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Bayuk v. Prisiajniouk

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

September 26, 2019

KATERYNA BAYUK, Plaintiff,
v.
JOANNA PRISIAJNIOUK, Defendant.

          ORDER

          SEAN P. FLWN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This cause is before the Court upon Kateryna Bayuk’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Summary Judgment on Count II of the Complaint (“Plaintiff’s Motion”) (Doc. 37), Joanna Prisiajniouk’s (“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts I, II, and III of the Complaint (“Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment”) (Doc. 40), and Defendant’s Motion to Strike Plaintiff’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Defendant’s Counterclaim (“Motion to Strike”) (Doc. 52).[1] Upon consideration, Plaintiff’s Motion is DENIED, Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and Defendant’s Motion to Strike is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a family dispute between Plaintiff (stepmother) and Defendant (stepdaughter) over a Certificate of Deposit issued by the Discover Bank (the “Discover CD”), a Delaware bank, and funded by Orest Bayuk (“Bayuk”), Plaintiff’s spouse and Defendant’s father. On August 19, 2016, Bayuk renewed the Discover CD Account ending in 4133 with a b alanc e of $164, 696.99 (Doc. 37 at 9). The Discover Bank operates as an online bank with its only branch office located in Delaware (Doc. 23 at 6). At some point in October 2016, Bayuk added both Plaintiff and Defendant as joint owners to the Discover CD, but neither Plaintiff nor Defendant contributed anything to the account (Doc. 39 at 10–11) (Doc. 37 at 1–2). Defendant disputes the fact that Plaintiff was properly added as a joint owner to the Discover CD because, according to Defendant, there is no evidence that Plaintiff signed the account agreement (Doc. 39 at 11). However, in October 2016, Discover Bank issued a letter to Bayuk confirming that he had successfully updated the account to add Plaintiff as a joint owner (Doc. 11-8).

         It is undisputed that the terms and conditions of the Discover CD were governed by the Deposit Account Agreement (the “Discover CD Agreement”) (Doc. 37 at 27–49). The Discover CD Agreement is governed by Delaware law (Id. at 28). As to the nature and rights of the joint tenants over the CD account, Section 6(b) of the Discover CD Agreement provides in relevant part:

• A Joint Account is an Account held by more than one natural person. All Joint Accounts are established as joint tenancy with right of survivorship only.
• Any funds deposited to a Joint Account by any of its owners shall be owned by all joint owners.
• Each owner of a Joint Account may . . . make withdrawals . . . with respect to the Joint Account without notice to or consent from any of the other owners of the Joint Account.
• The Joint Account may be closed by either joint owner. However, a joint owner may not remove another joint owner from the Joint Account.
• Any action of one owner of a Joint Account shall be binding upon all owners of a Joint Account.
• [The Bank] may act upon the direction of one or more owners of the Joint Account without notice to or consent from any of the other owners of the Joint Account.

Id. at 31–32. On January 15, 2017, shortly after Plaintiff and Defendant were added to the CD account, Bayuk was involved in an accident and died (Doc. 37 at 2). On February 2, 2017, Defendant withdrew the entire balance of the Discover CD without Plaintiff’s authorization (Id.). On October 27, 2017, Plaintiff sued Defendant for civil theft, conversion, and unjust enrichment in state court (Doc. 2). On January 19, 2018, Defendant removed the case to this Court and filed an answer to the Complaint and a Counterclaim against Plaintiff (Docs. 1 & 25). The parties then filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to Plaintiff’s Complaint (Docs. 37 & 40). The parties’ motions are ripe for consideration of the Court.

         DISCUSSION

         Summary judgment is appropriate if all the pleadings, discovery, affidavits, and disclosure materials on file show that there is no genuine disputed issue of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) and (c). The existence of some factual disputes between the litigants will not defeat an otherwise properly supported summary judgment motion; “the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48 (1986) (emphasis in original). A fact is material if it may affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir. 1997). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could decide an issue of material fact for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether a genuine dispute of material fact exists, the court must read the evidence and draw all factual inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must resolve any reasonable doubts in the non-movant's favor. Skop v. City of Atlanta, 485 F.3d 1130, 1136 (11th Cir. 2007).

         The non-moving party, however, “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Rather, the non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and “identify affirmative evidence” which creates a genuine dispute of material fact. Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998). “[M]ere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir.2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mtn. Park, Ltd. v. Oliver, 836 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir.1989)). Moreover, “[a] mere ‘scintilla’ of evidence supporting the opposing party’s position will not suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that party.” Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir.1990) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252).

         I. Choice of Law

         It is first necessary to determine the applicable law to Plaintiff’s claims. As here, when a court’s jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship (Docs. 7 and 18), the court “must apply the choice of law rules of the forum state to determine which substantive law governs the action.” Perez v. Fedex Ground Package Sys., 587 F. App’x. 603, 606 (11th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation omitted). Under Florida law, a court makes a separate choice of law determination as to ...


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