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Tendler v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 26, 2018

SUSAN TENDLER
v.
HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. deGRAVELLES JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment, (“Motion, ” Doc. 49), filed by Plaintiff Susan Tendler (“Plaintiff” or “Tendler”). Defendant Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Hobby Lobby”) opposes the Motion, (Doc. 57), and Plaintiff has filed a Reply in further support of the Motion, (Doc. 59). Oral argument is not necessary. Having carefully considered the law, the record, and the arguments of the parties, the Court grants the motion in part and denies the motion in part.

         I. Relevant Factual Background

         On February 11, 2016, Plaintiff was shopping at a Hobby Lobby store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Doc 49-2 at 1). Plaintiff went to the Hobby Lobby store to purchase a stool. (Id.). Plaintiff found a bar stool that she was interested in purchasing, but the stool collapsed when Plaintiff attempted to sit on it. (Id.).

         The bar stool required assembly prior to being put in the Hobby Lobby showroom and was assembled by a Hobby Lobby employee at the Hobby Lobby store. (Id.). All furniture sold at Hobby Lobby stores is assembled in-store. (Doc. 49-3 at 53). The component parts of the stool were sent to Hobby Lobby by Hillsdale Furniture. (Doc. 57-2 at 2).

         Hobby Lobby affixed a temporary price tag to the stool, and Hobby Lobby is the sole entity named on that tag. (Doc. 49-2 at 2; Doc. 49-4 at 5).

         II. Relevant Law

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). If the mover bears his burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of fact, “its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-587 (1986) (internal citations omitted). The non-mover's burden is not satisfied 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) (citations and internal quotations omitted). “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. Further:

In resolving the motion, the court may not undertake to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes; so long as the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor, the court must deny the motion.

International Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991).

         B. The Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”)

         The Motion concerns Hobby Lobby's alleged manufacturer status and liability under the LPLA. (See Doc. 49-1 at 1). The LPLA establishes the “exclusive theories of liability for manufacturers for damage caused by their products.” La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.52. In relevant part, the LPLA defines a manufacturer as follows:

(1) “Manufacturer” means a person or entity who is in the business of manufacturing a product for placement ...

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