Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria Ltd v. Swiftships Shipbuilders L L C et al
MEMORANDUM RULING re 98 MOTION to Take Judicial Notice of Spurgeon Case filed by Hadassa Investment Security Nigeria Ltd. Signed by Judge Terry A Doughty on 3/18/2019. (crt,Crawford, A)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
HADASSA INVESTMENT SECURITY CIVIL ACTION NO. 16-1502
JUDGE TERRY A. DOUGHTY
SWIFTSHIPS SHIPBUILDERS, LLC
MAG. JUDGE CAROL B. WHITEHURST
Pending before the Court is a Motion to Take Judicial Notice of the Spurgeon Case [Doc.
No. 98] and a Second Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 99] filed by Plaintiff Hadassa
Investment Security Nigeria, Ltd. (“Hadassa”). Defendant Swiftships, LLC opposes the motions.
[Doc. Nos. 103 & 104]. Hadassa filed reply memoranda in support of its motions. [Doc. Nos.
106 & 107]. For the following reasons, Hadassa’s Motion to Take Judicial Notice is GRANTED
IN PART and DENIED IN PART, but its Second Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Court previously recounted the facts in this case in ruling on Hadassa’s first Motion
for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 94]. The Court incorporates those facts by reference.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Federal Rule of Evidence 201 provides that the Court “may judicially notice a fact that is
not subject to reasonable dispute because it . . . is generally known within the trial court’s
territorial jurisdiction; or . . . can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose
accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”
In this case, Hadassa urges the Court to take judicial notice of Spurgeon v. LeLeux, Civil
Action No. 6:11-1807 (W.D. La. 2019). Both Hadassa in support of its motion and Defendants
in opposition to the motion appear to focus on this Court’s ability to take judicial notice of
another court’s record. However, that is not the issue here. The issue is whether this Court can
take judicial notice of facts in a related proceeding conducted by this same Court. In Taylor v.
Charter Medical Corp., 162 F.3d 827 (5th Cir. 1998), the Fifth Circuit held, on a matter of first
impression that a district court did not err in refusing to take judicial notice of “the factual
findings of another court.” Id. at 829, 831. In reaching that decision, the Fifth Circuit discussed
Kinnett Dairies, Inc. v. J.C. Farrow, 580 F.2d 1260 (5th Cir. 1978). The Taylor court
In Kinnett, the plaintiff requested that the district court “take judicial notice of the
record in [a separate, but related case] and asked the clerk to bring it into the
courtroom particularly the discovery depositions. . . .” . . . The district court stated
in its opinion that it had taken “judicial notice” of the subject material, but did not
clarify of what exactly it had taken notice. On appeal, the defendant objected to
the inclusion of the depositions and other evidence in the record. We rejected the
defendant's argument, noting that the defendant (1) had not objected to the
plaintiff's request for judicial notice in the district court and (2) had been granted
the opportunity to submit its own evidence and to question those parties whose
depositions were made part of the record. . . .In his brief, Taylor argues that, in so
holding in Kinnett, we went beyond simply permitting a district court to take
judicial notice of facts found true by another court, actually allowing the district
court to take “as true certain evidence in depositions in a completely separate
Taylor misreads Kinnett. In fact, the issue in Kinnett was not even properly
categorized as one of judicial notice, despite the court's use of that term. A fact
that has been judicially noticed is not subject to dispute by the opposing party—
indeed, that is the very purpose of judicial notice. . . .The district court in Kinnett,
however, did not accept the deposition testimony and evidence presented to it as
true, but rather granted the defendant the opportunity to present counter-evidence
and examine witnesses on the issues covered by the alleged judicially-noticed
deposition testimony. . . The court did not, as Taylor asserts in his brief, take “as
true certain evidence in depositions in a completely separate case.” It simply
admitted into evidence deposition testimony taken in another case. Kinnett,
therefore, in no way conflicts with our holding today that the district court did not
err in refusing to take judicial notice of the Milonas courts' state actor
Taylor, 162 F.3d at 831–32. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit was clear that there was a distinction
between what the Kinnett did by allowing the admission of depositions and testimony from a
related case and a request for judicial notice of another court’s factual findings in another case.
In Kinnett itself, the Fifth Circuit explained that:
Here counsel had requested the court to take judicial notice of material in its own
files and asked the clerk to bring the record of prior proceedings into the
courtroom. As Judge Weinstein has noted, “Courts are particularly apt to take
notice of material in court files.” (1 Weinstein & Berger, Weinstein's Evidence 48
We have held that it is not error “for a court to take judicial notice of related
proceedings and records in cases before that court.” State of Florida Board of
Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund v. Charley Toppino and Sons,
Inc., 514 F.2d 700, 704 (5th Cir. 1975). See also Aloe Creme Laboratories v.
Francine Co., 425 F.2d 1295 (5th Cir. 1970) (per curiam) (“The District Court
clearly had the right to take notice of its own files and records and it had no duty
to grind the same corn a second time.” Id. at 1296). Here the district court was
faced with issues similar and in some respects identical to those considered in
prior proceedings. While Flav-O-Rich was not a party to those proceedings, it
makes no claim that consideration of evidence presented in those proceedings is
violative of its due process rights. Flav-O-Rich had the opportunity at the
November 28 hearing to submit its own evidence and to interrogate those parties
whose depositions were part of the record of the prior proceedings. Further, FlavO-Rich did not object to Kinnett's request for judicial notice. In these
circumstances, we find no error in the district court's judicial notice of materials in
the court's own files from prior proceedings.
580 F.2d at 1277 n.33.
Similarly, the parties in this matter and in Spurgeon, may not be completely identical, but
the issues are, at the least, similar. While the terminology of “judicial notice” may or may not be
correct, it is clear that the Court can admit the records of the Spurgeon matter into the record of
this case. The Court may not, however, reach a legal determination without allowing Defendants
an opportunity to present additional evidence in this case. Accordingly, Hadassa’s Motion to
Take Judicial Notice is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. To the extent that
Hadassa urges the Court to take notice of its own files and records in the Spurgeon case, the
motion is GRANTED, and those records and files can be made part of the record in this case. To
the extent that Hadassa move the Court to take judicial notice of Spurgeon as dispositive of the
issues in this case, the motion is DENIED.
Standard of Review
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary
judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which
summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for
its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of
material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also FED. R. CIV. P.
56(c)(1) (“A party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . .
citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . ). A fact is “material” if proof of its
existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the
case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact
is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Id.
If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving
party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache
Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties,
the Court must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and draw all justifiable
inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party cannot defeat summary
judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.”
Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
In a bench trial, “a district court has somewhat greater discretion to consider what weight
it will accord the evidence.” In re Placid Oil Co., 932 F.2d 394, 397 (5th Cir. 1991). A court
“has the limited discretion to decide that the same evidence, presented to him or her as a trier of
fact in a plenary trial, could not possibly lead to a different result.” Id. at 398 (citing Nunez v.
Superior Oil Co., 572 F.2d 1119, 1124 (5th Cir. 1978)).
Second Motion for Summary Judgment
The Court has determined that records and files from the Spurgeon case are properly
admitted in this case. However, the Court has also ruled that Defendants should be permitted to
challenge that evidence at trial, and the Court cannot make a legal determination based on this
evidentiary ruling. Accordingly, while the evidence may further support Hadassa’s position, the
Court cannot find, as a matter of law, at this time that Swiftships, LLC, is a mere continuation of
Shipbuilders. The Court finds, as it did previously, that a trial on the merits is appropriate, so
that it may fully evaluate and weigh each factor and judge the credibility of the witnesses who
appear at trial. Accordingly, the Second Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.
For the foregoing reasons, Hadassa’s Motion to Take Judicial Notice [Doc. No. 98] is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. To the extent that Hadassa urges the Court to
take notice of its own files and records in the Spurgeon case, the motion is GRANTED, and
those records and files can be made part of the record in this case. To the extent that Hadassa
move the Court to take judicial notice of Spurgeon as dispositive of the issues in this case, the
motion is DENIED. Hadassa’s Second Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 99] is
MONROE, LOUISIANA, this 18th day of March, 20198.
TERRY A. DOUGHTY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?