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Holland v. Equipment Services Parts, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

June 23, 2015

KAYCEE HOLLAND AND GEORGE HOLLAND INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF THEIR MINOR SON, HUNTER HOLLAND,
v.
EQUIPMENT SERVICES PARTS, INC., ET. AL

RULING

ROBERT G. JAMES, District Judge.

This is a products liability case brought by Plaintiff Kaycee Holland ("Holland") against Defendant Equipment Service Parts, Inc. ("ESP") and Alliance Industrial Corporation ("Alliance") as a result of a workplace injury. Pending before the Court is Alliance's Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 23].

For the reasons stated below, Alliance's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Holland worked for Ardagh Glass, Inc., ("Ardagh") at its glass container production facility in Simsboro, Louisiana. On June 5, 2013, Holland severely injured her right arm in a wine bottle packing machine ("the sorter"), which was manufactured by ESP and installed at the Simboro facility in 1995.

Six years preceding the accident, on September 14, 2007, Alliance purchased plans from ESP for (1) equipment, (2) parts and electrical control schedules, and (3) electrical PLC files. See [Doc. No. 27, Exh. A, Asset Purchase Agreement (the "Agreement"), p. 8]. Alliance did not purchase the sorter.

Under the Agreement, [1] the assets were purchased "free and clear of all" ESP liabilities.[2] Alliance's officers and directors did not acquire any of ESP's stock, or ownership or membership shares, before or after the Agreement was executed. Gary Garner ("Garner"), President of Alliance, avers that Alliance and ESP are completely separate corporate entities and that Alliance did not assume or acquire any ESP company assets, other than those identified in the Agreement. [Doc. No. 23-4, Exh. B, Affidavit of Gary Garner, ¶¶ 7-12].

On June 5, 2014, Holland filed suit in the Third Judicial District Court for Lincoln Parish against Alliance and ESP, who then removed to this Court. [Doc. No. 4]. According to Holland, Alliance faces liability because it "purchased [ESP], thereby making [Alliance] liable for any and all defects of machinery produced, manufactured and/or distributed by [ESP]." [Doc. No. 1-1, Plaintiffs' Petition, ¶ 2]. The Agreement also contained a non-compete clause, whereby ESP agreed not to compete with Alliance for a period of seven years. [Doc. No. 27, Exh. A, Asset Purchase Agreement, p. 4]. Citing this clause, Holland also argues Alliance faces liability because any repairs made to the sorter after 2007 would have been performed by Alliance. However, Garner avers that Alliance never made any modifications or performed any maintenance or repairs on the sorter. [Doc. No. 23-4, Exh. B, Affidavit of Gary Garner, ¶ 6].

Ardagh and Travelers Property & Casualty Company of America ("Travelers") intervened for recovery of worker's compensation benefits. [Doc. No. 11].

On December 5, 2014, Alliance filed a motion for summary judgment. [Doc No. 23]. Holland and Travelers filed opposition memoranda. [Doc. Nos. 27 & 28]. Alliance replied. [Doc. No. 31].

In her opposition memorandum, Holland argued that the Court should defer ruling on the instant Motion for Summary Judgment because discovery was ongoing. Her request, however, failed to comply with the applicable Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d).[3] Consequently, on June 8, 2015, the Court issued a minute entry instructing Holland to provide an affidavit or declaration under FED. R. CIV. P. 56(d) specifying, by June 15, 2015, the reasons that would justify a delay in ruling. [Doc. No. 37]. Holland did not file an affidavit or declaration within the deadline.

II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

A. Choice of Law

Sitting in diversity, this Court is required to apply the Louisiana approach to conflicts of law. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487 (1941). Louisiana conflicts doctrine requires that a contractual choice of law clause be given effect "unless there is a statutory or jurisprudential law to the contrary justifying the refusal to honor the contract as written." Delhomme Indus., Inc. v. Hous. Beechcraft, Inc., 669 F.2d 1049, 1058 (5th Cir. 1982) (internal citations and quotations omitted). The ...


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