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Manning v. Tractor Supply Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Northern Division

April 9, 2015



KRISTI K. DuBOSE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion For Summary Judgment (Doc. 19), Plaintiff's Response (Doc. 25) and Defendant's Reply (Doc. 26).[1]

I. Findings of Fact[2]

This action stems from Plaintiff Lucasta Manning (Manning)'s August 6, 2012 shopping trip to the Defendant Tractor Supply Company[3] (TSC)'s store in Northport, Alabama, to buy salt blocks for her livestock. (Doc. 1-1; Doc. 25-1 (Dep. Manning at 119-121, 144)). Manning traveled to the store, located the salt blocks stacked on shelves/racks (after asking for help as they were not in their usual location), reached for a block, made contact with a shelf, and was cut "by a sharp edge [or wire] on a metal rack and that caused [her] to twist her shoulder." (Id.) "After cutting her arm, Plaintiff twisted her shoulder from the sudden pain of the cut to her arm and the fifty (50) pound weight of the salt block that she held." (Doc. 1-1). Manning claims that the metal shelf/rack[4] had a hidden defect due to its sharp edge that "was not open nor was it obvious to the general consumer or patron[, ]" and was "unexposed to the general public[, ]" - without any signs alerting customers of the danger - such that TSC should have known injury would result. (Id.; Doc. 25-1 (Dep. Manning at 144-145, 152)). Manning subsequently underwent surgery for a left shoulder torn rotator cuff. (Doc. 25-1 (Dep. Manning at 16, 25)).

On August 2, 2014 Manning sued TSC in the Circuit Court of Marengo County, Alabama for $150, 000 in compensatory damages and $100, 000 in punitive damages, asserting state claims for negligence, wantonness, breach of contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent/wanton hiring, training and/or supervision, and damages (including an injunction "requiring Defendant to refrain from such future actions that have led to Plaintiff's injuries[]"). (Id.) On August 6, 2014, TSC removed this case to this Court. (Doc. 1).

II. Standard of Review

"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). Rule 56(c) provides as follows:

(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party may object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible in evidence.
(3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.
(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is competent to testify on the matters stated.

FED.R.CIV.P. Rule 56(c). The party seeking summary judgment bears the "initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). If the nonmoving party fails to make "a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with respect to which she has the burden of proof, " the moving party is entitled to summary judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. "In reviewing whether the nonmoving party has met its burden, the court must stop short of weighing the evidence and making credibility determinations of the truth of the matter... the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBH-Siegen, 965 F.2d 994, 998-999 (11th Cir. 1992).

III. Conclusions ...

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