United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON DEFENDANT'S
WILLIAM P. JOHNSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment on Defendant's Counterclaims [Doc.
98], filed November 16, 2018. Plaintiff was a prime
contractor to Los Alamos National Security, LLC for waste
remediation work at Los Alamos National Lab. Defendant was
one of Plaintiff's subcontractors. Defendant filed
counterclaims alleging Plaintiff wrongfully withheld $1, 057,
354.63 in payments for work Defendant performed at
Plaintiff's direction. Doc. 98 at 1-2. Defendant now
seeks summary judgment on its counterclaim for breach of
contract, and in the alternative, breach of the covenant of
good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel/detrimental
reliance, unjust enrichment, and open account/account stated.
judgment is appropriate when “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute is genuine “if there is
sufficient evidence on each side so that a rational trier of
fact could resolve the issue either way, ” and it is
material “if under the substantive law it is essential
to the proper disposition of the claim.” Becker v.
Bateman, 709 F.3d 1019, 1022 (10th Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). In other words, the question “is whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id.
(citation omitted). When answering that question, the Court
must view the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences
from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the
party opposing summary judgment. Id.
and Defendant entered into a subcontract on August 20, 2013.
Doc. 98 at Statement of Fact ¶12. In April 2014, Los
Alamos National Security, LLC awarded Plaintiff Task Order
No. 1. Id. at ¶16. Plaintiff and Defendant
began work in July 2014. Id. For work from February
to July 2015, Defendant submitted six invoices totaling $1,
057, 354.63. Id. at ¶27. Plaintiff's
Project Manager, Chris Edgmon, authorized Defendant to
perform the work reflected in each invoice and approved each
invoice for payment, but Plaintiff did not pay Defendant.
Id. at ¶28. Defendant argues Plaintiff's
withholding payment has no basis in the parties'
however, argues there is a genuine issue of material fact as
to whether Defendant is entitled to payment for work it
performed after it was given a stop work order in May 2015
and continued to work at its own risk. Doc. 113 at 10. As
supporting evidence, Plaintiff submitted a May 12, 2015 cure
letter from Plaintiff's Senior Vice President to
Defendant that stated Defendant needed to reduce its staff
and that if not done “by Friday May 15, 2015, any work
performed by [Defendant] above and beyond 35% is done so
solely at [Defendant's] risk.” Doc. 113-2.
argues the letter does not create a genuine dispute of
material fact because it does not have any bearing on
Plaintiff withholding payment for the work Defendant
performed from February 2015 until the May 2015 letter. Doc.
117 at 5. Defendant, however, seeks summary judgment on its
counterclaims for the work it performed from February to July
2015, not for the work it performed until the May 2015
letter. Defendant's argument, although persuasive, does
not resolve the factual dispute as to the entirety of its
also argues the letter does not create a genuine dispute of
material fact because Plaintiff continued to direct and
authorize Defendant to perform work after the letter.
Id. Defendant cites Edgmon's deposition where he
explains that he continued to authorize Defendant to work
after the letter. Doc. 99 at 62. Defendant also cites
Plaintiffs response to Statement of Fact 35 in which
Plaintiff admits that Edgmon continued to authorize work from
Defendant, but also stated that Defendant did the work at its
own risk. Doc. 113 at 7. It is undisputed that Edgmon
authorized Defendant to do work after the letter, but there
remains a genuine factual dispute as to whether Defendant did
that work at its own risk in light of the May 2015 letter and
Plaintiffs Senior Vice President's testimony: “I
don't care what . . . [Edgmon] says. I'm giving this
direction to say, if you go over 35 percent, you're doing
so at your own risk. It's that simple. They work for
me.” Doc. 99 at 25. It is also not clear whether the
letter's 35% restriction had any effect on the
parties' contract and, if so, whether Defendant complied
with the 35% restriction after receiving the letter.
standard for summary judgment is a high-bar for the moving
party to clear. The evidence must be so one-sided in favor of
the moving party that they must prevail as a matter of law.
The Court finds that Defendant has not cleared that high-bar
because there is a genuine dispute of material fact
concerning whether Defendant is entitled to payment for the
work it performed after the May 2015 letter; specifically,
whether that work was done at Defendant's own risk.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment on Defendant's ...