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Rudesill v. Charter Communications, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 19, 2019

LISA RUDESILL
v.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, LLC

          RULING AND ORDER

          BRIAN A. JACKSON JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court are several motions for summary judgment, including the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Entergy Louisiana, LLC ("Entergy") (Doc. 52), the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff (Doc. 53), the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Entergy (Doc. 54), and the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Charter Communications, LLC ("Charter") (Doc. 55). Responses in opposition to each motion have been filed (Docs. 83, 71, 67, 66). For the following reasons, Entergy's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 52) is DENIED. Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 53) is DENIED. Entergy's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 54) is DENIED. Charter's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 55) is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges that on June 8, 2017, a cable line belonging to Charter was snagged by a boat being towed down her driveway. (Doc. 26, at 4). Plaintiff allegedly became entangled in the cable and was dragged across the ground and underneath the trailer towing the boat. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff allegedly suffered severe physical, economic, and emotional injuries, (Id. at 4). Plaintiff alleges negligence on the part of Charter for failing to install and maintain the cable line at a safe height and for failing to properly respond to complaints that the cable line appeared to be too low, and Entergy for failing to properly locate its own service lines, to oversee Charter's positioning of its cable line, and to allow or require Charter to move its cable line. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff also alleges that both Charter and Entergy are strictly liable for her injuries. Id.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In determining whether the movant is entitled to summary judgment, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and draws all reasonable inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Coleman v. Hous. Indep. Sch. Dist., 113 F.3d 528, 533 (5th Cir. 1997).

         After a proper motion for summary judgment is made, the nonmovant "must set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986) (internal citations omitted). At that moment, the court does not evaluate the credibility of witnesses, weigh the evidence, or resolve factual disputes. Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v. Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir. 1991), cert, denied, 502 U.S. 1059 (1992). However, if "the evidence in the record is such that a reasonable jury, drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, could arrive at a verdict in that party's favor," the motion for summary judgment must be denied. Id.

         The nonmovant's burden is not satisfied by some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, or by conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (internal quotations omitted). Summary judgment is appropriate if the nonmovant "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Entergy's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 52)

         Entergy requests that the Court grant its claim for indemnity against Charter on summary judgment. However, the Louisiana Supreme Court has held that "a cause of action for indemnification for cost of defense does not arise until the lawsuit is concluded and defense costs are paid." Meloy v. Conoco, Inc., 504 So.2d 833, 839 (La. 1987). Thus, at this early stage in the proceedings, Entergy's motion for partial summary judgment as to its indemnity claim must be denied without prejudice. See Winslow v. Am. Airlines, Inc., No. CIV.A. 07-236, 2008 WL 4469962, at *1 (E.D. La. Sept. 29, 2008) ("Louisiana courts have noted that in those situations where a claim for defense and indemnity is made before a judicial determination of fault, there is no prohibition from . . . deferring resolution of the claim until the lawsuit concludes and liability [is] determined.").

         Entergy also requests that the Court declare Charter to be in breach of contract for failure to obtain commercial general liability insurance. An examination of the pole attachment agreement between Entergy and Charter reveals that Charter agreed to carry comprehensive general liability insurance with a combined single limit of not less than one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1, 500, 000) for bodily injury and property damage and to name Entergy as an additional insured. (Doc. 52-2, at 8). Entergy contends that Charter's initial disclosures under Federal Rule of Procedure 26 indicated that it would provide information on insurance coverage, but that it has not received any such information to date. In its response in opposition, Charter neither contends that it has provided information on insurance coverage nor cites to any evidence providing information on insurance coverage. In fact, Charter simply does not address the issue of insurance coverage in the response. However, given that the lawsuit has not concluded, the Court will defer resolution of Charter's breach of contract claim until Entergy's liability is determined. Nonetheless, the Court notes that Entergy appears to have a viable breach of contract claim against Charter. The Court invites Entergy to renew its claim at a later stage of this case.

         B. Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 53)

         Plaintiff argues that Charter was negligent for failing to install and maintain the cable line at a safe height and for failing to properly respond to complaints that the cable line appeared to be too low. ...


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