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The district court properly grants summary judgment if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, the district court may not weigh the evidence and resolve issues of fact. Disputed facts must be left for resolution in a trial. Moreover, all reasonable inferences from the evidence must be drawn in favor of the non-movant.
Marine Bank brought an action against Joseph Falcone on a contract to recover sums allegedly due on a lease agreement. Marine Bank moved for summary judgment as to liability and Falcone filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. On March 10, 1986, the district court granted Falcone's motion for summary judgment and denied Marine Bank's motion. 635 F. Supp. 1029. The court ruled that there could be no question that Jim Roemer, an agent of Marinebanc Leasing Company ("MBL") (Marine Bank is the assignee of MBL's rights under the lease) misrepresented the facts regarding the guaranty, that the misrepresentation was material, and that it induced Falcone to sign in justifiable reliance on the statement. The court concluded that Falcone had persuasively stated an affirmative defense and, therefore, no genuine issue of material fact remained for trial.
Did the district court err in holding that no genuine issue of fact existed on whether the elements of the affirmative defense of misrepresentation had been satisfied?
The court reversed and remanded the judgment and disagreed with the district court that there was no genuine issue of material fact for trial. The court held that a misrepresentation induced a party's manifestation of assent if it substantially contributed to his decision to manifest his assent. The court held that the issue of inducement was not clear enough to decide without having to weigh and resolve the evidence. The guarantor had not read the contract and there was not evidence of a trust relationship that might excuse or justify the casual signing of the guaranty contract without examining the document. The district court erred in holding that no genuine issue of fact existed on whether the elements of the affirmative defense of misrepresentation had been satisfied.