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Jeane v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

April 17, 2019

EVELYN C. JEANE, ET AL.
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC.; ET AL.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHLEEN`KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the court are Motions for Summary Judgment [docs. 109, 113] filed, respectively, by maintenance subcontractor Master Technicians and Mechanical, LLC (“Master Tech”) and its insurer, Federated Service Insurance Company (“Federated”) (collectively, “movants”). The motions relate to defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart of Louisiana, LLC's (“Wal -Mart”) cross-claim against Master Tech for defense and indemnity.

         I.

         Background

         This action arises from an accident allegedly suffered by plaintiff Evelyn C. Jeane at a Wal-Mart store in Leesville, Louisiana, in June 2016. Doc. 1. She alleges that she was injured after slipping in the produce aisle, in a liquid possibly spilled by Master Tech. Doc. 1, att. 2, p. 4. Accordingly, Jeane and her husband filed suit against Wal-Mart, Master Tech, and Federated in the 30th Judicial District Court, Vernon Parish, Louisiana, on May 30, 2017. Id. at 3-7. Wal-Mart then removed the suit to this court based on federal diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Wal-Mart filed a cross-claim (and amendments thereto) against movants, alleging that they are contractually obligated to defend and indemnify Wal-Mart in this suit under the terms of Wal- Mart and Master Tech's Master Service Agreement (“MSA”). Docs. 20, 31, 103. Movants now request summary judgment on this cross-claim. Docs. 109, 113. Master Tech asserts that the indemnification clause of the MSA is unenforceable as a matter of law. Doc. 109, att. 1. Federated maintains that Wal-Mart does not qualify as an additional insured under the policy it issued to Master Tech. Doc. 113, att. 1. Wal-Mart opposes both motions, which are now fully briefed and ripe for review.

         II.

         Summary Judgment Standard

         A court 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, 5 F.3d 951');">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.

         If the 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., 505');">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, 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).

         A court may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence in ruling on a motion for summary judgment. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 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');">551 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2008).

         III.

         Application

         A. Enforceability of ...


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