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Jones v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 30, 2017

LATORY JONES
v.
FAMILY DOLLAR STORES OF LOUISIANA, INC. AND GATEKEEPER SYSTEMS, INC.

         SECTION: "S" (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Gatekeeper Systems, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #68) is GRANTED, and plaintiffs' claims against it are DISMISSED.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant, Gatekeeper Systems, Inc.

         On July 19, 2015, Dalton Baham, III was driving a motorcycle north in the center lane of Carrollton Avenue, under the I-10 overpass near Tulane Avenue in New Orleans when he struck a shopping cart that was in the roadway. Baham was ejected from the motorcycle, hit a wall, and died on the scene.

         On October 5, 2016, plaintiffs, Latory Jones (Baham's wife), individually and as natural tutrix of her minor child S.J.B. (Baham's daughter), Dalton Baham, IV (Baham's son), and Brandi Payton, as natural tutrix of her minor child B.B.P. (Baham's son), filed this action in the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana against Family Dollar Stores, Inc. and Gatekeeper. Gatekeeper sells a shopping cart containment system to equip carts with a special wheel that responds to a radio frequency around the perimeter of the property and locks the wheel if the cart is moved beyond the perimeter. Plaintiffs allege that Family Dollar had a master service agreement with Gatekeeper to use Gatekeeper's cart containment system on its shopping carts.

         Plaintiffs allege that Gatekeeper is liable for the accident under the Louisiana Products Liability Act ("LPLA"), La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.51, et seq., because the Gatekeeper wheel on the subject shopping cart was unreasonably dangerous in design, construction and composition, failed to provide adequate warnings and failed to conform to safety warranties.[1]

         Gatekeeper filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it is not liable under the LPLA because there is no evidence that the accident was proximately caused by an unreasonably dangerous condition of the Gatekeeper wheel in construction or composition, design, inadequate warning, or not conforming to an express warranty. Plaintiffs argue that Gatekeeper is liable under the LPLA because the Gatekeeper wheel was unreasonably dangerous in design for failing to incorporate reflective tape that would have made it more visible at night.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that 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." Granting a motion for summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits filed in support of the motion demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986). The court must find "[a] factual dispute . . . [to be] 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party . . . [and a] fact . . . [to be] 'material' if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law." Beck v. Somerset Techs., Inc., 882 F.2d 993, 996 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2510).

         If the moving party meets the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence of the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Celeotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The non-movant cannot satisfy the summary judgment burden with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). If the opposing party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party does not have to submit evidentiary documents properly to support its motion, but need only point out the absence of evidence supporting the essential elements of the opposing party's case. Saunders v. Michelin Tire Corp., 942 F.2d 299, 301 (5th Cir. 1991).

         II. Louisiana ...


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