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Vita v. Rooms To Go Louisiana Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 3, 2014

LEAH ARNOLD VITA, ET AL
v.
ROOMS TO GO LOUISIANA CORP., ET AL., SECTION: J (5)

ORDER AND REASONS

CARL J. BARBIER, District Judge.

Before the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 57) filed by Defendant, Rooms to Go Louisiana Corp. ("RTG"), as well as an Opposition (Rec. Doc. 68) by Plaintiffs, Leah Arnold Vita and Giovanni Vita ("Plaintiffs"), and RTG's Reply (Rec. Doc. 92). Having considered the motion, the parties' submissions, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds, for the reasons expressed below, that the motion should be DENIED.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On or about August 2, 2008, Plaintiffs purchased a 42" × 72" glass top dining table ("the glass table") from a Rooms to Go store located in Metairie, Louisiana. The glass table was delivered to and accepted by Plaintiffs on August 14, 2008. Plaintiffs allege that Rooms to Go advertised and labeled the glass table as being made with "safety glass" that was "shatterproof." On October 26, 2012, while the Plaintiffs were in the process of moving furniture into a new home, the glass table broke into a "few large shards of glass."(Rec. Doc. 1, p. 3). One of the pieces of glass cut Plaintiff Leah Arnold Vita in the leg, "damaging her tendon, and slicing her artery." (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 3). On October 21, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the present lawsuit against RTG in this Court based on diversity jurisdiction.

In their complaint, Plaintiffs set forth several causes of action. Plaintiffs claim that RTG should be held liable for damages as a result of its negligent misrepresentation of the table by describing it as "shatter proof" and being composed of "safety glass." Plaintiffs also claim that RTG breached its warranty against redhibition by selling allegedly defective "shatter proof" glass. Additionally, Plaintiff argues that RTG violated the Louisiana Products Liability Act ("LPLA"), set forth in La. R.S. § 9:2800.57, under several theories. These theories include the following: (1) the glass table contained a construction or composition defect; (2) the glass table contained a design defect; (3) RTG provided an inadequate warning regarding the danger posed by the glass; and (4) RTG breached an express warranty by misrepresenting the glass as "shatter proof." For each of these claims, Plaintiffs seek damages including medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical disfigurement and impairment, and loss of earnings.

RTG initially filed a motion for partial summary judgment seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims under the LPLA and a limitation of damages on Plaintiffs' redhibition claim on July 31, 2014. In light of the fact that Plaintiff had not yet had a chance to conduct a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition of an RTG corporate executive, the Court found that the motion was premature. The Court denied the motion without prejudice, noting that RTG could re-file the motion after the aforementioned deposition was conducted and further information regarding RTG's relationship with the foreign manufacturer of the table was revealed.

The 30(b)(6) deposition was conducted on or about September 23, 2014. The parties then attended a pre-trial conference on November 13, 2014, and the jury trial in this matter is currently set for December 8, 2014. RTG filed the instant motion, alleging arguments nearly identical to those contained in its previous motion for partial summary judgment. Specifically, RTG requests that the Court dismiss Plaintiffs' claims brought pursuant to the LPLA as well as Plaintiffs' redhibitory action.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)); Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact exists, the Court considers "all of the evidence in the record but refrains from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence. " Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398 (5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated assertions. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. A court ultimately must be satisfied that "a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Delta, 530 F.3d at 399.

If the dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party "must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.'" Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263-64 (5th Cir. 1991) (citation omitted). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by either countering with sufficient evidence of its own, or "showing that the moving party's evidence is so sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict in favor of the moving party." Id. at 1265.

If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by merely pointing out that the evidence in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue exists. See id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest upon the pleadings, but must identify specific facts that establish a genuine issue for trial. See, e.g., id. at 325; Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.

DISCUSSION

A. Louisiana Product Liability Act

The LPLA "provides the exclusive remedy for persons claiming injury due to product defects." Willis v. Noble Drilling, Inc., 11-598 (La.App. 5 Cir. 11/13/12); 105 So.3d 828, 842, n. 35 (citing Scott v. Am. Tobacco Co., Inc., 04-2095 (La.App. 4 Cir. 2/7/07); 949 So.2d 1266, 1273) (emphasis added). Additionally, the plaintiff may only recover from a defendant who ...


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