United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division
RUSSELL HENRY, ET AL.
SUNSHINE FREIGHT, INC., ET AL.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHLEEN KAY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 21] filed
pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
by defendants L&J Freight, Inc. (“L&J”)
and Wesco Insurance Company (“Wesco”). Plaintiffs
Russell Henry and Stacia Henry oppose the motion. Doc. 25.
Defendants Reinaldo Quintanilla, Sunrise Freight, Inc.
(“Sunrise”), and National Specialty Insurance
Company (“National”) also oppose summary judgment
and to that end they adopt the arguments made in
plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition. Doc. 26.
matter has been referred to the undersigned for review,
report, and recommendation in accordance with the provisions
of 28 U.S.C. § 636. For the reasons stated below,
IT IS RECOMMENDED that the Motion for
Summary Judgment be DENIED.
case arises from an automobile accident that allegedly
occurred on Interstate 10 in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
Doc. 1, att. 1, pp. 2-3. Plaintiffs allege that Quintanilla
was driving a truck and trailer hauling oranges from Florida
to California when he twice swerved into Russell's lane,
striking his (Russell's) pickup truck. Id. at p.
3. The pickup became entangled with the trailer and was
dragged for a short distance on the highway before dislodging
and crashing into a guardrail. Id.
filed suit in the 14th Judicial District Court, Calcasieu
Parish, Louisiana, seeking to recover for Russell's
personal injuries, past and future physical and emotional
pain, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and
future lost income. Id. at pp. 4-5. Russell's
wife, Stacia, asserted claims for non-pecuniary injuries,
including loss of consortium. Id. at p. 5. They
named as defendants Quintanilla, Sunrise, National, Amtrust
North America d/b/a Wesco Insurance Company, and L&J, as
well as Sunshine Freight, Inc.
(“Sunshine”). Id. at pp. 1-2. Plaintiffs
maintain that Quintanilla's negligence caused the
accident, Sunrise and/or L&J were his employer, and
National and/or Wesco issued insurance policies covering the
collision. Id. at pp. 3-4.
and National removed the action to this court with the
consent of their co-defendants on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. Doc. 1, pp. 3-6. Wesco and L&J (collectively,
“movants”) then filed the instant motion for
summary judgment, [doc. 21], seeking a declaration that
L&J is not vicariously liable for Quintanilla's
alleged negligence because he was never an L&J employee
and L&J did not own the truck he was driving. Doc. 21,
att. 6, pp. 4, 6.
should grant a motion for summary judgment when 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. The party moving for
summary judgment is initially responsible for identifying
portions of pleadings and discovery that show the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact. Tubacex, Inc. v. M/V
Risan, 45 F.3d 951, 954 (5th Cir. 1995). The court must
deny the motion for summary judgment if the movant fails to
meet this burden. Id.
movant makes this showing, however, the burden then shifts to
the non-moving party to “set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505,
2511 (1986) (quotations omitted). This requires more than
mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's
pleadings. Instead, the nonmovant must submit
“significant probative evidence” in support of
his claim. State Farm Life Ins. Co. v. Gutterman,
116');">896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). “If the evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 106 S.Ct.
at 2511 (citations omitted).
may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence
in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 7');">120 S.Ct. 2097, 2110
(2000). The court is also required to view all evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all
reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Clift v.
Clift, 210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this
standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a
reasonable trier of fact could render a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Brumfield v. Hollins, 551 F.3d 322,
326 (5th Cir. 2008).
assert that Quintanilla was never an L&J employee and
“all of the other defendants” maintain that he
was working only for Sunrise at the time of the accident.
Doc. 21, att. 6, pp. 4-5. Plaintiffs do not contest that
Quintanilla was a Sunrise employee. See doc. 25,
att. 3, pp. 2-3. However, they contend that L&J should be
deemed Quintanilla's statutory employer, based on the
lease agreement, [doc. 21, att. 7, p. 65] that movants
attached to the motion for summary judgment and ...