United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
L. HAYES Magistrate Judge
A. DOUGTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter arises from an accident at a railroad crossing.
Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment
[Doc. No. 21] filed by Defendant Union Pacific Railroad Co.
(“Union Pacific"). Plaintiff James O'Neal
(“O'Neal”) filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No.
29], an opposition memorandum to the Motion for Summary
Judgment [Doc. No. 32');">32], and a Motion to Continue Trial and
Pretrial Deadlines [Doc. No. 31]. Union Pacific filed a
memorandum in opposition to the Motion for Extension of Time
[Doc. No. 28] and memorandum in opposition in part to the
continuance of any pre-trial deadlines [Doc. No. 33], but not
the continuance of trial. Finally, Union Pacific filed a
reply in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No.
following reasons, O'Neal's Motion for an Extension
of Time is DENIED, Union Pacific's Motion for Summary
Judgment is GRANTED, and O'Neal's Motion to Continue
is DENIED AS MOOT.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 29, 2016, O'Neal, a seasonal employee of McLeod
Farms, was driving a tractor trailer loaded with corn to the
grain bins in Mer Rouge, Louisiana. At approximately 8:47
a.m., O'Neal, who was traveling eastbound, proceeded onto
the railroad tracks in front of a southbound Union Pacific
locomotive at the Harp Lane crossing, resulting in a
had driven over that crossing hundreds of times. The Harp
Lane crossing is posted with a stop sign and cross buck. The
engineer operating the train, Timothy Bland
(“Bland”), sounded the horn on the train's
approach to the crossing. O'Neal alleged in his original
Petition that he had stopped at the crossing, but at his
deposition, he admitted that he does not have a distinct
memory of stopping. The train's lead engine had a Track
Image Recorder (“TIR”) that recorded the view of
the engine looking forward down the track. The video shows
O'Neal failing to stop at the stop sign and proceeding
over the crossing. Upon viewing the video, he admitted that
he must not have stopped.
lead engine was also equipped with an Event Recorder that
records data, including speed, throttle position, amount of
train air braking, and horn. The Event Recorder confirmed
Bland's account that he sounded the horn and also showed
that the train was traveling fifty miles per hour when Bland
applied the emergency brake. Because of the proximity to the
crossing, however, Bland could not stop the train in time to
avoid a collision.
admitted: (1) if he had stopped at the stop sign and looked
to his left, he would have seen the oncoming train; (2) if he
had stopped at the stop sign, he would have avoided the
accident; (3) the stop sign and crossbuck at the crossing
gave him sufficient warning that he was approaching railroad
tracks; (4) there was a stopped train on the siding, but it
did not obscure his view of the oncoming train; (5) there was
a field of corn adjacent to the tracks which had not been
harvested, but it did not obscure his view of the oncoming
train; (6) the TIR video contains an audio track on which the
train's horn can be heard on its approach to the
crossing; and (7) he has no basis for the claim the train
crew had ample time and opportunity to stop.
August 29, 2017, O'Neal, acting pro se, filed
suit in the Fourth Judicial District Court for Morehouse
Parish, Louisiana. Union Pacific timely removed the case to
this Court on September 27, 2017, under diversity
January 5, 2018, a Scheduling Order [Doc. No. 10] issued,
setting trial for January 14, 2019. At that time, the
discovery completion deadline was August 29, 2018. On August
23, 2018, counsel enrolled on behalf of O'Neal, and the
following day, he filed an unopposed motion to continue the
pre-trial deadlines. The Court granted the motion and, among
others, extended the discovery completion deadline to
September 17, 2018, and the dispositive motion deadline to
October 31, 2018. O'Neal did not seek any further
extensions or move to continue prior to the expiration of
October 31, 2018, Union Pacific filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment. [Doc. No. 21]. O'Neal's opposition
was due no later than November 21, 2018.
November 21, 2018, O'Neal filed a Motion for Extension of
Time [Doc. No. 29]. O'Neal seeks a 60-day extension to
respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment because
“discovery is incomplete, ” and he needs
additional time. Id. Union Pacific opposes the
motion. [Doc. No. 28].
same day O'Neal filed a Motion to Continue Trial and
Pretrial Deadlines [Doc. No. 31] and opposition to the Motion
for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 32');">32].
Pacific filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion to
Continue Trial and Pretrial Deadlines. [Doc. No. 33]. Union
Pacific does not oppose a continuance of the trial date, but
does oppose a continuance of the deadlines that have passed.
November 26, 2018, Union Pacific filed a reply in support of
its Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 34].
motions are now ripe, and the Court is prepared to rule.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which
summary judgment is sought. 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." The moving party bears the
initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its
motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight
the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian
v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132');">32 (5th Cir. 1992); see
also Fed. R. Civ. p. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting
that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the
assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in
the record . . .). A fact is “material" if proof
of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of
the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute
about a material fact is “genuine" if the evidence
is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict
for the nonmoving party. Id.
Rule 56(d) provides:
If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for
specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to
justify its opposition, the court may:
(1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to
take discovery; or
(3) issue any other appropriate order.