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Young v. United Rentals, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

September 14, 2019

DWANNA YOUNG, Tutrix, o.b.o. minor child, Thaniel Young
v.
UNITED RENTALS, INC. and J L G INDUSTRIES, INC.

          PEREZ-MONTES MAG. JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          DEE D. DRELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the court are motions for summary judgment filed by defendants United Rentals, Inc. ("United") (Doc. 44) and J L G Industries, Inc., ("J L G") (Doc. 55). Plaintiff filed no opposition to these motions. For the reasons expressed in this ruling, both motions will be GRANTED in full, dismissing all claims by plaintiff, Dwanna Young ("Plaintiff), as tutrix of the minor child Thaniel Young.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Relevant Facts

         Plaintiff is the natural tutrix of Thaniel Young ("Minor"), a child born to Plaintiff and Davis Young ("Young"), who was killed as a result of the events forming the basis of this suit. On October 20, 2016, Young was employed in the maintenance department at German Pellets Louisiana, LLC ("German Pellets") when he fell from a vertical man lift ("Lift") he was using to clean pellet silos. The lift was manufactured by JLG Industries, Inc. ("JLG"), owned by United Rentals (North America), Inc. ("United") and rented to Elektro Fischer USA, LP ("Elektro"), a contractor performing work at the German Pellets plant.

         Plaintiffs complaint alleges that on the date of the accident in question, the lift

...suddenly and without warning, tipped over causing [Young] to fall to the ground, sustaining very serious injuries to his skull and brain as well as his spinal cord, resulting in his death on October 27, 2016. (Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 6).

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed this wrongful death suit in the Twenty-eighth Judicial District Court for the Parish of LaSalle on October 19, 2017, naming United and JLG as defendants. (Doc. 1). JLG removed the suit to this court timely on or about November 13, 2017 citing federal diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[1](Id.). Subsequently, JLG filed a motion to dismiss on the basis of lack of personal jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2). (Doc. 26). By adoption of the report and recommendation issued by the magistrate judge, this court denied JLG's motion, finding that we possessed specific personal jurisdiction over JLG under the stream of commerce theory. (Docs. 47, 53).

         During the pendency of the aforementioned motion to dismiss, United filed its instant motion for summary judgment, urging judgment in its favor dismissing all claims against it on the basis that plaintiff fails to prove that it had garde of the lift; that plaintiff fails to demonstrate any defect in the lift; and that plaintiff has not shown that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor applies in this case. (Doc. 44-1). Plaintiff filed no opposition to this motion.

         Shortly after this court's denial of JLG's motion to dismiss, JLG filed its own motion for summary judgment, asserting entitlement to dismissal of all claims against it based on plaintiffs failure to show that the lift was unreasonably dangerous; that JLG breached any express warranty; or that any breach of duty was the cause of Young's accident and subsequent demise. The motion also points out that plaintiff failed to designate an expert or produce any expert testimony on causation under the Louisiana Products Liability Act ("LPLA"), La. Rev. Stat. 9:2800.52. Finally, the motion contests the applicability of res ipsa loquitor in this case. (Doc. 55). Plaintiff filed no opposition to this motion.

         All necessary delays have now lapsed and the court finds the motions ripe for decision.

         C. ...


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