United States District Court, D. Nebraska
JUSTIN E. RIDDLE and ERIN M. RIDDLE, Plaintiffs,
CHARTER WEST BANK, a Nebraska Corporation, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Gerrard Chief United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. Filing 94; filing 97.
The Court finds that the plaintiffs' remaining
claim-tortious interference with a business relationship or
expectancy-fails because the plaintiffs failed to present
evidence they were damaged by the defendant's allegedly
tortious conduct. Accordingly, the Court will grant summary
judgment for the defendant and dismiss the complaint.
defendant, Charter West Bank, is a Nebraska corporation that,
among other things, processes mortgage loan applications
including Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loans. Filing
99 at 1-2. The plaintiffs, Justin and Erin Riddle,
submitted a Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) to
Charter West, intending to purchase a home. Filing 99 at
the questions on the URLA asked whether either of the Riddles
was obligated to pay child support. Filing 100-1 at
3. They said they weren't. Filing 100-1 at
3. But, in fact, Justin was. Filing 100-3 at
2-3. Charter West obtained records from the Nebraska
Department of Health and Human Services reflecting that
Justin's child support was in arrears. Filing 100 at
3; filing 100-4.
events that follow aren't really disputed, although the
sequence of events is. On May 16, 2016, Justin asked Charter
West for a copy of the Riddles' file, and their FHA case
number, to transfer the loan request. Filing 94-1;
filing 100-8. And at some point, Charter West denied
the Riddles' loan application. Filing 100 at 3.
Charter West claims that was on May 16. Filing 100 at
3. But the "Credit Denial Date" on Charter
West's entry into FHA Connection records, reflecting the
denial, is "05/17/16." Filing 100-7.
West claims that the Riddles never "withdrew" their
loan application, so Charter West denied it. Filing 99 at
5. The Riddles' version of events is that Charter
West should have stopped processing their loan after they
indicated they wanted to transfer it, but proceeded to deny
it instead. See filing 107 at 3. But regardless, on
May 19, Charter West was asked by Freedom Lending to transfer
the Riddles' FHA case number. Filing 100-10 at
2-3. Charter West transferred the case and the
Riddles' FHA appraisal, completing the transfer by May 23
(which was two business days later). Filing 100-10 at
1-2; filing 100-11.
Riddles eventually completed another URLA for Freedom Lending
and obtained financing. Filing 100-12; filing
100-14; filing 100-15. They successfully
purchased the home they'd been trying to buy. Filing
Riddles sued Charter West, asserting six claims for relief:
(1) breach of fiduciary duty; (2) tortious interference with
a business relationship; (3) fraud; (4) violation of the Fair
Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et
seq.; (5) "willful noncompliance"; and (6)
conspiracy. Filing 1-1. The Court dismissed all of
those claims except tortious interference with a business
relationship as to Charter West. Filing 21. It's
that claim that's now the basis for the parties'
motions for summary judgment.
judgment is proper if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial
responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for the
motion, and must identify those portions of the record which
the movant believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Torgerson v. City of
Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en
banc). If the movant does so, the nonmovant must respond by
submitting evidentiary materials that set out specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.
motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is
a genuine dispute as to those facts. Id. Credibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the evidence are jury
functions, not those of a judge. Id. But the
nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Id. In
order to show that disputed facts are material, the party
opposing summary judgment must cite to the relevant
substantive law in identifying facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit. Quinn v. St. Louis Cty., 653
F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011). The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's
position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on
which the jury could conceivably find for the nonmovant.
Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d
782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011). Where the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.
Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042.
succeed on a claim for tortious interference with a business
relationship or expectancy, a plaintiff must prove (1) the
existence of a valid business relationship or expectancy, (2)
knowledge by the interferer of the relationship or
expectancy, (3) an unjustified intentional act of
interference on the part of the interferer, (4) proof that
the interference caused the harm sustained, and (5) damage to
the party whose relationship or expectancy was disrupted.
Thompson v. Johnson,910 N.W.2d 800, 806-07 (Neb.
2018); seeW. ...