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McCon v. FCA U.S. LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

June 1, 2017




         Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 14) filed by FCA U.S. LLC ("Defendant"). In its Motion, the Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff s claim on the ground that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate proximate cause, which is a necessary element of her claim. (Doc. 14). Plaintiff filed a response, Defendant filed a reply, and Plaintiff filed a sur-reply. (Docs. 15, 18, 21). Accordingly, the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 14) is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a single car accident. (Doc. 1-1 at p. 2). Plaintiff alleges that on or about September 5, 2014, she was driving a 2009 Dodge Ram produced by Defendant on Interstate 10. (Id. at 1-2). Plaintiff had owned the vehicle for 5 years, and had driven the vehicle over 100, 000 miles. (Doc. 14-3 at p. 2:6-25). While driving the vehicle, Plaintiff alleges that the "driveshaft of her 2009 Dodge Ram separated from the rear differential, causing petitioner to lose control of the vehicle and careen into the center concrete dividing wall." (Doc. 1-1 at p. 1). This particular make and model of the vehicle had been the subject of a recall by the manufacturer. (Doc. 14-4).

         According to the recall:

The problem is . . . [t]he rear axle pinion nut on your vehicle . . . may loosen due to undersized pinion shaft splines. A loose pinion nut could cause the rear axle to seize or cause the driveshaft to separate resulting in a loss of motive power. Either situation could cause a crash without warning.

(Doc. 14-4 at p. 1). After the accident, the vehicle was taken to Ralph Sellers, which is a car dealership and repair shop, and repaired. (See 15-5 at pp. 1-2). In response to the accident, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, naming the manufacturer of the vehicle, FCA U.S. LLC and ABC Insurance Company. (Doc. 1-1 at p. 2).


         Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "[W]hen a properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (quotation marks and footnote omitted).

         In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the Court "view[s] facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in her favor." Coleman v. Houston Indep. Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997). At this stage, the Court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Int'l Shortstop, Inc., 939 F.2d at 1263. On the other hand, the non-movant's burden is not satisfied merely upon a showing of "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).

         In sum, summary judgment is appropriate if, "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, [the non-movant] fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Summary judgment will lie only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Sherman v. Hallbauer, 455 F.2d 1236, 1241 (5th Cir. 1972).


          Defendant moves for summary judgment on the sole issue that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the manufacturing defect in the vehicle caused the accident. (Doc. 14-1 at p. 1). Defendant argues that since the defective part was not preserved, and since Plaintiff presents no other evidence in admissible form that demonstrates a manufacturing defect that caused the accident, Plaintiff cannot demonstrate an issue of material fact as to the issue of proximate cause. (Id. at 1-2; Doc. 18 at pp. 1-2). According to the Defendants, Plaintiff has submitted unauthenticated documents, including reports from the repair of the vehicle, and contends that these documents should be considered for the purposes of summary judgment to demonstrate an issue of material ...

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