United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
OSCAR COOK III, ET AL.
PENSKE TRUCK LEASING CO., L.P.
ORDER AND REASONS
TRICHE MILAZZO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Penske Truck Leasing Company,
L.P's unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26).
For the following reasons, the Motion is
personal injury suit arises out of a rear-end collision that
occurred on Interstate 10 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana.
On April 6, 2017, Plaintiff Oscar Cook was a passenger in an
18-wheeler being driven by Terrell Sims. At the time, Cook
and Sims were employees of Airgas, LLC
(“Airgas”), which was renting the 18-wheeler from
Defendant Penske Truck Leasing Company, L.P.
(“Penske”). Plaintiffs allege that Cook was
sleeping in the 18-wheeler's sleeper berth when the
collision occurred. Plaintiffs further allege that the force
of the collision caused Cook to be thrown from the
truck's sleeper berth into the truck's passenger
cabin. Plaintiffs allege that Cook suffered severe and
permanent injuries as a result of this crash.
only Defendant in this suit is Penske, and the only claim
against it is one arising in negligence. The negligence claim
stems from an allegation that Penske violated federal safety
regulations by failing to equip its 18-wheeler with an
operational sleeper berth restraint system. “In fact,
said vehicle lacked any restraint system in the sleeper berth
in which Mr. Cook was riding at the time of the Accident,
” Plaintiffs allege. Plaintiffs do not allege that Penske
was negligent in any other manner except in its alleged
failure to equip its truck with a working seat belt in the
truck's sleeper berth.
March 29, 2019, Defendant Penske filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment. In support, Defendant argues that the
undisputed record shows that the 18-wheeler in question was
in fact equipped with a functioning sleeper berth restraint
system before, during, and after the April 2017 crash in
which Cook was injured. The Motion came under submission on
April 24, 2019. Plaintiffs filed no Opposition to the Motion.
The Fifth Circuit approaches the automatic grant of
dispositive motions with considerable aversion.Accordingly, this
Court has considered the merits of Defendant's Motion.
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.” “A motion for summary judgment
cannot be granted simply because there is no opposition;
[h]owever, a court may grant an unopposed summary judgment
motion if the undisputed facts show that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” “If a party
fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to
properly address another party's assertion of fact as
required by [the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure], the court
may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the
motion [and] grant summary judgment if the motion and
supporting materials-including the facts considered
undisputed-show that the movant is entitled to
claims rest entirely upon the allegation that the truck
in-question lacked a functioning sleeper berth seat belt at
the time of the crash in which Plaintiff Oscar Cook was
injured. The undisputed facts, however, are as follows:
“The tractor-trailer in which Oscar Cook, III, was
riding was equipped with restraint systems in the
tractor's sleeper berth compartment at the time of the
accident forming the basis of this suit.” Additionally,
“[t]he restraint systems in the sleeper berth of the
tractor-trailer in which Oscar Cook, III, was riding were
operational at the time of the accident forming the basis of
this suit.” Defendant submitted authenticated
inspection records and photographs to support these
undisputed facts. Defendant Penske has thus carried its
burden to show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
foregoing reasons, Defendant's Motion is
GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' claims ...