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Zendejas v. Redman

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

June 13, 2017

ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS, Plaintiff,
v.
EUGENIE H. REDMAN, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          KENNETH A. MARRA United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Colin Syquia's Motion for Summary Judgment (DE 95). The motion is ripe for review. For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         I. Undisputed Facts

         This action arises out of Plaintiff Alejandro Zendejas's purchase of a horse named Vorst from Defendant Eugenie Redman. (DE 98 ¶¶ 2-3.) Vorst is a Grand Prix show jumping horse with United States Equestrian Federation registration number 5068133. Zendejas purchased Vorst for his son, Juan Jose Zendejas, who competes at the Grand Prix level of equestrian show jumping. (DE 98 ¶¶ 2, 9.)

         Before purchasing Vorst, Zendejas hired Defendant Simon Nizri to act as his agent in finding him a horse to purchase for Juan Jose Zendejas. (DE 98 ¶ 7.) In January 2014, Nizri approached Defendant Colin Syquia about Vorst. (DE 98 ¶ 10.) Syquia had trained and rode Vorst in competition almost every month between September of 2012 and April 2014(DE 93 ¶ 7.), and was authorized to act as Redman's agent in connection with Vorst's sale to Zendejas. (DE 98 ¶ 6.)

         Redman approved, consented to, and ratified all of Syquia's acts and omissions in connection with Redman's sale of Vorst to Zendejas. (DE 98 ¶ 6.) And, as a disclosed agent, Syquia was paid a sales commission from Redman for his role in the sale of Vorst. (DE 98 ¶ 21.)

         Prior to Vorst's sale, Syquia represented to Zendejas, Nizri, and Juan Jose Zendejas that Vorst was physically and behaviorally fit to compete at the Grand Prix level of show jumping, since that was the purpose of Zendejas's purchase. (DE 99 ¶¶ 15-18.) Redman and Syquia were each aware and had knowledge, however, that Vorst had previously stopped before attempting an obstacle in competitions before. (DE 92-1 at 6; DE 97-4 ¶ 20.) In equestrian parlance, this behavior is referred to as being a “dirty stopper, ” and it represents a danger to both Vorst and any rider. (DE 98 ¶ 26.) Zendejas asserts that he relied upon Syquia's material representations in connection with his decision to purchase Vorst from Redman, and the failure to mention anything about dirty stopping was material to that decision. (DE 98 ¶ 17; DE 99 ¶ 15.)

         Vorst was also evaluated by Zendejas, Nizri, and Juan Jose Zendejas prior to their negotiation of his sale. (DE 99 ¶¶ 13-15.) During this period, Juan Jose Zendejas successfully test-rode Vorst. (DE 98 ¶ 11.) Zendejas then instructed Nizri to negotiate the purchase and arrange a pre-purchase examination of Vorst. (Id.; DE 99 ¶ 17.) The pre-purchase examination was conducted by Dr. Gomez of Palm Beach Equine Clinic, and Vorst was thereafter treated for lameness in his right front foot. (DE 95 ¶ 12; DE 98 ¶ 12.) The lameness was disclosed on the pre-purchase examination report, but Zendejas alleges that this report was not received prior to him sending payment to Redman for Vorst.[1] (DE 99 ¶ 17.)

         The Bill of Sale for Zendejas' purchase of Vorst from Redman was signed April 24, 2014. (DE 98 ¶ 18.) Syquia acted as Redman's agent and signed the Bill of Sale on behalf of Redman. (Id.) Syquia was not a party to any contract between Zendejas and Redman concerning the sale of Vorst. (DE 97 ¶¶ 3, 4, 9, 17.; DE 92-2 ¶¶ 3, 4, 13, 14.)

         Zendejas wire-transferred at least $250, 000.00 to Redman for Vorst.[2] (DE 98 ¶ 20.) Upon receipt of the purchase price, Redman instructed Syquia to deliver Vorst to Zendejas. (Id.) Zendejas took possession of Vorst on or after April 24, 2014 and then shipped Vorst to Mexico for his son. (DE 98 ¶ 22.) After this time, Vorst performed poorly in competition, refusing to jump obstacles (“dirty stops”) during competitions in Mexico and Canada and then suffering a physical injury as a result of his refusal to jump during a competition in Canada. (DE 98 ¶¶ 22-25.)

         In this action, Zendejas alleges that Vorst has “dirty stopper” tendencies, that these tendencies were undisclosed prior to his sale, that the decision to purchase Vorst was made as a result of and with reliance on representations made to Zendejas as to Vorst's health and fitness for Grand Prix-level competition, and that these representations were made in the course of the transaction by Defendants Redman, Syquia, and Nizri.

         On August 31, 2015, Zendejas filed suit against Defendants. On April 8, 2016, Zendejas filed his First Amended Complaint, seeking to recover economic damages based on alleged misrepresentations and non-disclosures as to Vorst's physical and mental abilities. Count I through Count V of the Amended Complaint are for breach of contract and warranty claims against Defendant Redman. Counts VI and VII are the only claims against Syquia, and allege negligent misrepresentation and fraud, respectively. On April 22, 2016, Syquia filed and served his Answers and Affirmative Defenses, including the Economic Loss Rule as the Fifth Affirmative Defense. (DE 60 at 9.)

         II. Legal Standard

         The Court may grant summary judgment “if 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). The movant bears the burden of establishing the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). It must do so by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for the purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). The Court should not grant summary judgment unless it is clear that a trial is ...


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