September 27, 2011

U.S. Court of Appeals Reverses Summary Judgment Where Disputed Issue of Material Fact Exists – Win in Federal Appellate Court

VOIS, Inc. v. Michael Spindel and Edward Spindel,
Case No. 10-15668-D

We represented a corporation that had gone through multiple changes of ownership since issuing promissory notes to two of its investors and former directors, the Spindels. The corporation sued the Spindels for corporate wrongdoing, and the Spindels countersued claiming they were never paid under the promissory notes relating to their investments. The Spindels removed the case to federal court. During the litigation, the corporation discovered that it possessed the original promissory notes, giving rise to the legal presumption that the debts had been satisfied. However, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Spindels, despite evidence showing that the corporation properly mailed the original promissory notes to the Spindels, supporting the corporation’s position that its debt under the notes had been satisfied.

On appeal, we argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Spindels where evidence existed from which a finder of fact could conclude the corporation mailed the spindles the original promissory notes. Summary judgment is inappropriate where there exists conflicting evidence as to an issue of material fact. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed. The court reasoned that the trial court’s finding the evidence was undisputed was erroneous because the corporation had produced evidence indicating that it sent the Spindels the original notes. The Eleventh Circuit reversed and remanded to the trial court.