United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is Plaintiff's motion for partial summary
judgment. R. Doc. 17. Defendant has responded in opposition.
R. Doc. 18. Having considered the parties' briefs and the
applicable law, the Court issues this Order & Reasons.
case arises from injuries Plaintiff John Scott, Jr.
(“Scott”) allegedly sustained while delivering a
package to Defendant Weeks Marine, Inc. (“Weeks
Marine”). R. Doc. 1-1 at 2. Plaintiff brought this
action in state court in the 32nd Judicial
District Court in Terrebonne Parrish and Defendant removed to
this Court on the basis of diversity. R. Doc. 1 at 1.
Plaintiff is a citizen of Louisiana and Defendant is a
citizen of New Jersey. Id. at 2. Defendant asserts
that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id.
alleges that he sustained severe personal injuries as a
result of Defendant's employees' negligence. R. Doc.
1-1 at 4. Plaintiff was employed by UPS as a delivery driver.
Id. at 2. Plaintiff asserts he was delivering a
package of a 500 pound piece of industrial furniture when
Defendant's employee negligently operated a forklift,
causing the package to fall on Plaintiff's
hand. Id. at 3-4. Plaintiff experienced
immediate and severe pain and continues to have pain and
swelling in his hand. Id. at 3. He has undergone
significant physical therapy and is currently treating with a
hand specialist. Id. Plaintiff claims as a result of
the alleged accident he suffered severe physical pain and
disability, mental anguish, medical expenses, disfigurement,
lost wages, and lost earning potential. Id.
Plaintiff therefore seeks damages for those injuries in
addition to exemplary damages and attorney's fees.
Id. at 4.
timely answers and denies all allegations in Plaintiff's
complaint. R. Doc. 6 at 1-2. Defendant also asserts Plaintiff
failed to state a cause of action upon which relief can be
granted. Id. at 2. Defendant avers that any injuries
were caused by Plaintiff's own negligence. Id.
moves for partial summary judgment on the liability issue. R.
Doc. 17. Plaintiff avers that Defendant is liable under
either Plaintiff's or Defendant's description of the
facts. R. Doc. 17-3 at 3. Therefore, Plaintiff argues that
there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding
liability. R. Doc. 17-3 at 4.
explains that under Defendant's description of the facts,
Plaintiff was inside his delivery truck at the time the
furniture fell and Plaintiff's hand was crushed between
the furniture and the wall of the truck. R. Doc. 17-3 at 6-7.
Plaintiff alleges that under this scenario Defendant is
solely liable for his injuries because Defendant is liable
for the negligence of its employees. R. Doc. 17-3 at 6.
Plaintiff argues that Defendant's employee negligently
operated the forklift while removing the furniture, failed to
determine Plaintiff's location in the truck before moving
the furniture, and created an unreasonable risk of harm to
Plaintiff. R. Doc. 17-3 at 8.
Plaintiff's description of the facts, Plaintiff was
outside his delivery truck at the time of the incident. R.
Doc. 17-3 at 10. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's
employee was irritated at having to unload the furniture and
operated the forklift in anger. R. Doc. 17-3 at 12. Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant negligently operated the forklift and
failed to follow Defendant's policies and procedures for
unloading deliveries. R. Doc. 17-3 at 12. Therefore,
Plaintiff asks the Court for summary judgment as to
liability. R. Doc. 17.
responds in opposition. R. Doc. 18. Weeks Marine argues that
in either version of the accident there are genuine issues of
material fact as the how the accident happened and whether
Plaintiff was at fault. R. Doc. 18. First, Weeks Marine
argues that it is disputed whether Plaintiff communicated
with Defendant's employee during the unloading of the
cabinet, whether the pallet broke during the delivery, and
whether the cabinet fell to the ground. R. Doc. 18 at 5.
Weeks Marine also argues that under Plaintiff's version
of the facts Plaintiff is partially at fault for taking
control of and directing the movement of the cabinet. R. Doc.
18 at 4. Second, Defendant argues that in either version of
the facts Plaintiff is at fault for grabbing the cabinet. R.
Doc. 18 at 6.
LAW & ANALYSIS
Summary Judgment Standard (Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56)
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Rule 56(c) 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 the party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Id. A party
moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the basis for summary judgment and identifying
those portions of the record, discovery, and any affidavits
supporting the conclusion that ...