United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
SUSAN SIMPSON, ET AL.
DOLLAR TREE STORES, INC. d/b/a DOLLAR TREE
L. HAYES MAG. JUDGE.
G. JAMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Susan Simpson (“Mrs. Simpson”) and Jerry Simpson
(“Mr. Simpson”) brought a personal injury suit
against Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (“Dollar Tree”)
for negligence. Mrs. Simpson alleges that Dollar Tree is
liable for damages she incurred as a result of a robbery by
an unknown party, which occurred in the parking lot of Dollar
Tree. [Doc. No. 1-1, p. 4-5].
before the Court is Dollar Tree's Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. No. 34]. Dollar Tree argues that Plaintiffs
cannot show that it had a duty to protect Mrs. Simpson from
the criminal act of the unknown third party. Plaintiffs filed
an opposition arguing that there is a genuine issue of
material fact for trial whether Dollar Tree had a duty to
protect Mrs. Simpson under the circumstances. [Doc. No. 40].
Dollar Tree filed a reply memorandum objecting to the use of
exhibits supplied in Plaintiffs' opposition. Dollar Tree
further argues that Plaintiffs' evidence in opposition is
insufficient to create a duty to protect Mrs. Simpson under
following reasons, Dollar Tree's Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 16, 2014, Mrs. Simpson was injured during a robbery
in Dollar Tree's parking lot. [doc # 1-1, p. 4]. During
the robbery an unidentified third party demanded Mrs.
Simpson's purse, struck her in the head with a gun, took
her purse, and escaped through a hole in the fence on the
property. Id. Mrs. Simpson began bleeding profusely
from the blow to the head and attempted to re-enter the store
by crawling to the front door. Id.
claim that, as a result of the robbery, Mrs. Simpson suffered
loss of property and severe personal injuries. Specifically,
Mrs. Simpson claims loss of property and money; past,
present, and future pain and suffering; past, present, and
future severe mental anguish and distress; past, present, and
future medical expenses; lost income; and loss of quality and
enjoyment of life. Id. at 5-6. Plaintiffs further
claim that, as a result of this incident, Mr. Simpson
suffered past, present, and future mental anguish and
distress. Id. at 6. Mr. Simpson also brings a claim
for loss of consortium. Id.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Summary Judgment Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which
summary judgment is sought. The court shall 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.” The moving party bears
the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for
its motion by identifying portions of the record which
highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact.
Topalian v. Ehrmann, 1125');">954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir.
1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A
party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must
support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of
materials in the record . . .). A fact is
“material” if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under
applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a
material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is
such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for
the nonmoving party. Id.
moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v.
Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017');">19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In
evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court
must accept the evidence of the nonmovant as credible and
draw all justifiable inferences in its favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party
cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations,
unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.
Thus, Summary Judgment is appropriate if a reasonable jury
could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337,
343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)); see also Ruiz v.
Whirlpool, Inc., 12 F.3d 510');">12 F.3d 510, 513 (5th Cir. 1994)
(“Testimony based on conjecture or speculation is
insufficient to raise an issue of fact to defeat a summary
judgment motion because ‘there is no issue for trial
unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving
party for a jury to return a verdict for that party. . . . If
the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted.'”).
Duty to Protect
Motion for Summary Judgment, Dollar Tree argues that, in
order to prevail in this negligence action, Plaintiffs must
show that it had a duty to protect Mrs. Simpson from the acts
of a third party. [Doc. No. 34-3]. Dollar Tree asserts that
Plaintiffs' action must fail because they cannot show
that the armed robbery was ...