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Rowen Petroleum Properties, LLC v. Hollywood Tanning Systems

September 28, 2012

ROWEN PETROLEUM PROPERTIES, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HOLLYWOOD TANNING SYSTEMS, INC., HOLLYWOOD TANS, LLC, HT SYSTEMS, LLC, TAN HOLDINGS, LLC, RALPH VENTO, SR., RALPH VENTO, JR., DAVID N. RAHN, INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANTS 1 THROUGH 10, DEFENDANTS.



On behalf of Defendants Hollywood Tanning Systems, Inc., Ralph Venuto, Sr., Ralph Venuto, Jr., David N. Rahn*fn1

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Before the Court are a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Defendants Hollywood Tanning Systems, Inc. ("HTS"), David R. Rahn, Ralph Venuto, Jr., and Ralph Venuto, Sr.*fn2 , and a cross motion for partial summary judgment filed by plaintiff Rowen Petroleum Properties, LLC ("Rowen"). For the reasons expressed below, defendants' motion regarding plaintiff's claims for rescission of the lease and individual member liability will be granted. Plaintiff's cross motion for partial summary judgment as to his breach of contract claims will be granted, but his request for attorneys' fees will be denied without prejudice.

I. BACKGROUND

This matter concerns the lease of space in a mall by a Hollywood Tans franchise. The factual background of this case has been provided in previous Opinions and will not be repeated here. See Rowen Petroleum Prop., LLC v. Hollywood Tanning Sys., Inc., No. 08-4764, 2010 WL 936217 (D.N.J. Dec. 23, 2011) (Hillman, J.) (denying motion and cross motion for partial summary judgment) ("Rowen III"); Rowen Petroleum Prop., LLC v. Hollywood Tanning Sys., Inc., No. 08-4764, 2010 WL 936217 (D.N.J. March 12, 2010) (Hillman, J.) (granting motion to amend complaint) ("Rowen II"); and Rowen Petroleum Prop., LLC v. Hollywood Tanning Sys., Inc., No. 08-4764, 2009 WL 1085737 (D.N.J. April 20, 2009) (Hillman, J.) (denying motion to dismiss) ("Rowen I").

II. JURISDICTION

As stated previously, this Court exercises jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. See id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such

that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary judgment must do more than just rest upon mere allegations, general denials, or vague statements. Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001).

If review of cross-motions for summary judgment reveals no genuine issue of material fact, then judgment may be entered in favor of the party deserving of judgment in light of the law and undisputed facts. See Iberia Foods Corp. v. ...


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