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Kelly v. Circle K Stores, Inc.

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

March 14, 2018

DOROTHY KELLY
v.
CIRCLE K STORES, INC. and XYZ INSURANCE COMPANY

          HORNSBY, Magistrate Judge.

          ORDER

          S MAURICE HICKS, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE.

         MEMORANDUM RULING

         Before the Court is Defendant Circle K Stores, Inc.'s (“Circle K”) “Motion for Summary Judgment” (Record Document 14) seeking to dismiss with prejudice all claims asserted by Plaintiff Dorothy Kelly (“Kelly”). For the reasons stated herein, Circle K's Motion is GRANTED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Kelly was a customer at the Circle K store located at 4250 Greenwood Road in Shreveport, Louisiana, on June 21, 2015. See Record Document 1-4 at 1. Kelly is wheelchair bound and has been for the last four years due to the amputation of her right leg. See Record Document 14-5 at 12. Her wheelchair is motorized and operated by a knob on the right side, directing it to move forward, backward, and side to side. See id. at 19-20. On the date of the incident, Kelly visited the Circle K store alone. See id. at 19. When she arrived, another patron arrived at the same time. The patron pulled both doors open[1] and held them as Kelly wheeled herself into the store without any problems. See id. at 20-22. Upon her entry, Kelly noted that sufficient room existed for her wheelchair to fit through the threshold and found nothing unusual about the doors, stating they worked as she expected them to work. See id. at 22. There was no barrier, divider, or pole between the two doors. See id. at 24. Rather, if both doors were open, a person could go straight through the middle of them. See id. She had seen doors like this during visits to other stores. See id. at 26. While in the store, Kelly maneuvered through the aisles, selected a drink, and paid for it without any assistance. See id. at 23.

         As she was exiting, the same gentleman patron who held the doors open for her entry assisted her on her exit. See id. at 26. This time the patron pushed both doors open, holding both doors open outside of the store. See id. at 26-27. Admittedly, on her exit, Kelly got so close to the left side of the doorway that her footrest struck the wall where it meets the door. See id. at 32. As a result, Kelly's left leg got “caught up” behind the doors, breaking her leg and damaging her wheelchair footrest. See id. at 27-30, 39.

         Kelly agreed that no component of the door prevented her from going out closer to the middle or closer to the right side so that she was not up next to the left wall. See id. at 32. Nor could she identify anything about the door that was not working properly. See id. at 34. The patron was still present and holding the doors open when the incident occurred. See id. at 36. At all relevant times, Kelly did not ask Circle K personnel for any assistance. See id. at 55.

         Kelly filed this lawsuit on June 20, 2016, in the First Judicial District Court of Louisiana, Caddo Parish. See Record Document 1-4. Circle K properly removed the action to this Court on July 7, 2016. See Record Document 1. On February 9, 2017, Circle K filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to dismiss all of Kelly's claims. See Record Document 14. Kelly filed her opposition memorandum on February 26, 2017, [2] to which Circle K replied. See Record Documents 18 and 19.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”[3] Quality Infusion Care, Inc. v. Health Care Serv. Corp., 628 F.3d 725, 728 (5th Cir. 2010). “Rule 56[ (a) ] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who 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.” Patrick v. Ridge, 394 F.3d 311, 315 (5th Cir. 2004).

         “A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553 (1986). If the moving party fails to meet this initial burden, the motion must be denied, regardless of the nonmovant's response. See Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995).

         If the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact, “the nonmovant must go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine [dispute] for trial.” Gen. Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 141 (5th Cir. 2004). Where critical evidence is so weak or tenuous on an essential fact that it could not support a judgment in favor of the nonmovant, then summary judgment should be granted. See Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005). Where the parties dispute the facts, the Court must view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769 (2007). In sum, the motion for summary judgment “should be granted ...


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