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Leone v. General Motors, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 23, 2017

TANYA LEONE
v.
GENERAL MOTORS, LLC, ET AL.

         SECTION "B"(3)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court are Defendant “General Motors LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment, ” (Rec. Doc. 60) and “Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Expert Mechanic, Sid Gearhart” (Rec. Doc. 63), as well as Defendant Avis Budget Car Rental, L.L.C. and Budget Rent A Car System, Inc.'s “Motion for Summary Judgment, ” (Rec. Doc. 62) and “Motion in Limine to Strike Sid Gearhart as Plaintiff's Expert Witness and to Exclude His Testimony at Trial” (Rec. Doc. 64). The motions were set for submission on August 23, 2017. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.5, Plaintiff's memoranda in opposition were due on or before August 15, 2017. No memoranda in opposition were filed. Further, no party filed a motion to continue the noticed submission date or a motion for extension of time within which to oppose the motions. Thus, the motions are deemed to be unopposed. As discussed below, it further appears to the Court that the motions have merit. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the motions (Rec. Docs. 60, 62-64) are GRANTED AS UNOPPOSED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of an April 22, 2015 motor vehicle accident. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 2-3, ¶¶ 5-6. Tanya Leone (“Plaintiff”) alleges that her 2014 Chevrolet Cruze (VIN number 1G1PG5SB9E7407408) “suddenly, unexplainably and unintentionally accelerated in speed . . . [and] application of the brakes failed to stop the vehicle.” Id. at 3, ¶¶ 5, 8. To avoid hitting another vehicle, Plaintiff “swerved the vehicle left, over the median . . . and thereafter hit the base of a traffic signal.” Id. at 3, ¶ 6. She insists that both she and her minor son, Nikko Leone, suffered damage as a result of the accident. Id. at 3, ¶¶ 8, 11.

         The Chevrolet Cruze was manufactured by Defendant General Motors LLC (“GM”) and owned and maintained by Defendant Avis Budget Car Rental, L.L.C. (“Avis”) and/or Defendant Budget Rent A Car System, Inc. (“Budget”). Rec. Docs. 1-1 at 3-4, ¶¶ 9-10, 17; 13 at 1-2.[1]

         On April 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, alleging that the Cruze was defectively designed and/or manufactured and that Defendants were liable pursuant to the Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”), La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:2800.51. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 3-4, ¶¶ 12-14, 16.

         On May 23, 2016, GM removed the matter pursuant to this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Rec. Doc. 1 at 3, ¶¶ VIII-IX.

         Under this Court's scheduling order, Plaintiff's expert reports had to be exchanged no later than June 9, 2017. Rec. Doc. 22 at 2. On June 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to continue the trial date, arguing that her second expert required additional time to conduct discovery and complete his report. Rec. Doc. 28-1 at 2. However, Plaintiff's expert completed his inspections in 2015, Plaintiff knew about the June 9, 2017 deadline as early as August 5, 2016, and Plaintiff waited to file a motion to continue until two days before the expert report deadline and set the motion for submission more than a month later. Rec. Doc. 55 at 4. Accordingly, this Court determined that there was no good cause to modify the scheduling order and we denied the motion to continue. Id.

         Despite this Court's order, Plaintiff filed a witness list on July 10, 2017 identifying Sid Gearhart as an “expert mechanic.” Rec. Doc. 51 at 1. Because Plaintiff failed to exchange Gearhart's expert report, Defendants moved to strike Gearhart from the witness list. Rec. Docs. 63-64.

         II. THE PARTIES' SUMMARY JUDGMENT CONTENTIONS

         GM argues that Plaintiff has not identified experts who will testify at trial, supplied expert reports, identified defects in the Cruze, or specified whether any such defect is due to the vehicle's design, composition, specification, warnings, or express warranty. Rec. Doc. 60-2 at 5.

         Avis and Budget argue that Plaintiff failed to allege that their ownership and/or maintenance of the vehicle “caused or contributed to the existence of any defect(s) in the vehicle, or that [they] knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the alleged ruin, vice or defect(s) which allegedly caused or contributed to the accident, ” such that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Rec. Doc. 62-3 at 4. They further argue that, even if Plaintiff had alleged such claims, she cannot produce any evidence to support those allegations. Id.

         Essentially, both Defendants argue that Plaintiff has not produced sufficient evidence to meet her burden of proof.

         III. ...


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