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Sinegal v. PNK (Lake Charles) LLC

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

July 31, 2019

ANASTASIA SINEGAL, ET AL.
v.
PNK (LAKE CHARLES), LLC

          KAY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          JAMES D. CAIN, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court are a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [doc. 12] and Motion for Summary Judgment [doc. 31] filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by defendant PNK (Lake Charles), LLC ("PNK") and former defendant Cheryl Tezeno. Plaintiffs Anastasia Sinegal and Lewis Dervis oppose both motions.

         I.

         Background

         This suit arises from injuries that plaintiff Anastasia Sinegal allegedly sustained at L'Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on the morning of May 6, 2017. Sinegal approached a slot machine on the casino floor. See doc. 31, att. 4, at 08:52 (L'Auberge security footage). In the brief time Sinegal's back was turned, a L'Auberge employee operating a carpet sweeper turned from the perpendicular aisle into the aisle behind the row of machines where Sinegal was standing. Id. Sinegal turned around and began walking away from the slot machines, at which time she tripped over the carpet sweeper and fell to the ground. Id.

         Sinegal and her husband, Lewis Dervis, filed suit against PNK and the employee (later identified as Cheryl Tezeno) in the Fourteenth Judicial District Court, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. Doc. 1, att. 1. PNK removed the action to this court, alleging that there was no basis for Tezeno's liability and that she had been improperly joined to the suit to defeat the court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Doc. 1. They also moved for partial summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the claims against Tezeno. Doc. 12.

         Plaintiffs moved to remand the matter. Doc. 9. The court denied the motion, finding that Tezeno was improperly joined and dismissing the claims against her, but has not ruled on the motion for partial summary judgment. See docs. 28, 33. Before that ruling, PNK and Tezeno also moved for summary judgment seeking dismissal of all claims in the matter. Doc. 31. They assert, in relevant part, that plaintiffs will not be able to show that PNK is liable under Louisiana's Merchant Liability Act. Doc. 31, att. 1. Plaintiffs oppose the motion and PNK has filed a reply. Docs. 34, 36.

         II.

         Summary Judgment Standards

         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, 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., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (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, 477 U.S. at 249 (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.,530 U.S. 133, 150 (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. Gift,210 F.3d 268, 270 (5th Cir. 2000). Under this standard, a genuine issue of material fact exists if a ...


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