United States District Court, D. Colorado
A. BRIMMER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on intervenor Ameris Bank’s
Motion for Summary Judgment of the Priority of its Interest
in Interpleader Funds [Docket No. 125] and plaintiff Jacob
Baruth’s Motion to Disburse Interpleader Funds [Docket
issue in this case is $42, 103.00 held by Comcast Cable
Communications Management (“Comcast”) as an
account receivable of defendant Stellar Recovery, Inc.
(“Stellar”). Stellar, a Florida corporation,
voluntarily dissolved at some point after February 2016.
Docket No. 126 at 3, ¶ 8. Both plaintiff Jacob Baruth
(“Baruth”) and intervenor Ameris Bank
(“Ameris”) contend that they are entitled to the
April 6, 2016, Baruth filed a complaint alleging that Stellar
violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 1692 et seq. (“FDCPA”), and the Telephone
Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227 et seq.
(“TCPA”). Docket No. 1. On June 9, 2017, following
an offer of judgment by Stellar pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 68
and an acceptance by Baruth, see Docket Nos. 94 and
94-1, the Court entered judgment in favor of Baruth and
against Stellar in the amount of $21, 000.00, plus
Baruth’s costs and Baruth’s “reasonable
attorney’s fees related solely to the Plaintiff’s
FDCPA claim.” Docket No. 95 at 1. On March 19, 2018,
the Court awarded Baruth $42, 033.00 in attorney’s
fees. Docket No. 106.
February 5, 2016, Stellar, which was incorporated in Florida,
signed a business loan agreement with The Jacksonville Bank
(“TJB”). Docket No. 125 at 2, ¶¶
In exchange for a $5, 000, 000.00 line of credit from TJB,
Stellar executed a $5, 000, 000.00 promissory note.
Id., ¶ 5. Stellar also signed a commercial
security agreement, granting TJB a security interest in
certain personal property of Stellar (the “personal
property”), including its accounts receivable.
Id. at 2-3, ¶ 6. On February 15, 2016, TJB
recorded its interest in the personal property with the
Florida Secretary of State in the Florida Secured Transaction
Registry. Id. at 3, ¶ 7. On March 11, 2016, TJB
merged with and into Ameris. Id., ¶ 8.
Stellar defaulted on the business loan agreement, Ameris
filed suit against Stellar in Florida state court.
Id. at 3-4, ¶ 10. On January 3, 2018, the Florida
court entered final summary judgment in favor of Ameris and
against Stellar. Id. As part of its order, the state
court adjudged “the security interest of Ameris in and
to the [c]ollateral is superior to any right, title, or
interest of [Stellar]” and “any parties claiming
by or through [Stellar].” Id. The
“collateral” included Stellar’s accounts
receivable. Id. On March 8, 2018, Ameris purchased
the collateral at a judicial sale. Id. at 4, ¶
11. On March 19, 2018, the Clerk of the Court issued a
certificate of title confirming Ameris as owner of the
April 3, 2018, Baruth obtained a Writ of Garnishment from the
Court directed at Comcast, intending to collect the $42,
103.00 still owed to him by Stellar in this case. Docket No.
111. On May 17, 2018, Comcast filed a motion to deposit $42,
103.00 in interpleader funds (the “funds”) with
the Court. Docket No. 116. In the motion, Comcast indicated
the funds “may or may not be subject to the Writ of
Garnishment because non-party Ameris Bank may be the rightful
owner of the funds.” Id. at 2. Baruth did not
file a response. The Court subsequently granted
Comcast’s motion. Docket No. 118. On May 30, 2018,
Ameris moved to intervene. Docket No. 119. Baruth did not
file a response. On October 19, 2018, the Court granted
Ameris’s motion to intervene. Docket No. 122. On
December 7, 2018, Ameris filed a motion for summary judgment,
asking the Court to hold that its interest in the
interpleader funds is superior to Baruth’s interest and
to release the funds to Ameris. Docket No. 125. On December
10, 2018, Baruth filed a “motion to disburse
interpleader funds, ” asking the Court to release the
funds to Baruth. Docket No. 127.
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56 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);
see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248-50 (1986). A disputed fact is “material” if
under the relevant substantive law it is essential to proper
disposition of the claim. Wright v. Abbott Labs.,
Inc., 259 F.3d 1226, 1231-32 (10th Cir. 2001). Only
disputes over material facts can create a genuine issue for
trial and preclude summary judgment. Faustin v. City
& Cty. of Denver, 423 F.3d 1192, 1198 (10th Cir.
2005). An issue is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that it might lead a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Allen v. Muskogee, 119 F.3d
837, 839 (10th Cir. 1997).
“the moving party does not bear the ultimate burden of
persuasion at trial, it may satisfy its burden at the summary
judgment stage by identifying a lack of evidence for the
nonmovant on an essential element of the nonmovant’s
claim.” Bausman v. Interstate Brands Corp.,
252 F.3d 1111, 1115 (10th Cir. 2001) (internal quotation
marks omitted) (quoting Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores,
Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 671 (10th Cir. 1998)). “Once
the moving party meets this burden, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to demonstrate a genuine issue for trial on a
material matter.” Concrete Works of Colo., Inc. v.
City & Cty. of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1518 (10th Cir.
1994). The nonmoving party may not rest solely on the
allegations in the pleadings, but instead must designate
“specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 324 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). “To
avoid summary judgment, the nonmovant must establish, at a
minimum, an inference of the presence of each element
essential to the case.” Bausman, 252 F.3d at
1115. When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, a court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Id.
is a form of joinder open to one who does not know to which
of several claimants it is liable.” Amoco Prod. Co.
v. Aspen Group, 59 F.Supp.2d 1112, 1114 (D. Colo. 1999)
(citation omitted). “An interpleader action typically
proceeds in two stages. During the first stage, the court
determines whether the stakeholder has properly invoked
interpleader, including whether the court has jurisdiction
over the suit, whether the stakeholder is actually threatened
with double or multiple liability, and whether any equitable
concerns prevent the use of interpleader. . . . During the
second stage, the court determines the respective rights of
the claimants to the fund or property at stake via ...