United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is one of 14 consolidated cases involving
Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendants operated a
pipe-making facility in Birmingham, Alabama that released
harmful chemical contaminants into areas occupied or
frequented by Plaintiffs, causing personal injury and
property damage. This matter is before the court on
Defendants United States Pipe and Foundry Company, LLC (USPF)
and Mueller Water Products, Inc.'s (Mueller)
“Motion for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiff Eugene
Maddox's Time-Barred Claims.” (Doc. 9 [redacted];
Doc. 13 [sealed]). Plaintiff filed a response (doc. 77) and
Defendants filed a reply. (Doc. 82). Plaintiff then moved
for, and was granted, leave to file a sur-reply. (Docs. 88,
reasons stated in this Memorandum Opinion, the court will
GRANT Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment as to
Plaintiff Eugene Maddox's Time-Barred Claims.
Standard of Review
judgment allows a trial court to decide cases when no genuine
issues of material fact are present and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56. When a district court reviews a motion for
summary judgment, it must determine two things: (1) whether
any genuine issues of material fact exist; and if not, (2)
whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56©.
moving party “always 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.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).
the moving party meets its burden of showing the district
court that no genuine issues of material fact exist, the
burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce sufficient
favorable evidence “to demonstrate that there is indeed
a material issue of fact that precludes summary
judgment.” Clark v. Coats & Clark, Inc.,
929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991). “If the evidence
[on which the nonmoving party relies] is merely colorable, or
is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986) (internal citations omitted).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court should
view all evidence and inferences drawn from the underlying
facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
See Graham v. State Farm Mut. Ins. Co., 193 F.3d
1274, 1282 (11th Cir. 1999). The evidence of the non-moving
party “is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in [its] favor.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “If reasonable
minds could differ on the inferences arising from undisputed
facts, then a court should deny summary judgment.”
Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th
Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
This standard exists because “the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a
judge.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products,
Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
both parties have addressed the motion for summary judgment,
the court must grant the motion only if no genuine issues of
material fact exist and if the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
Factual and Procedural Background
Eugene Maddox asserts several state law personal injury and
property damage claims related to Defendants' release of
chemical contaminants from USPF's Birmingham pipe-making
facility, which closed in 2010. Mr. Maddox does not
specifically allege the nature of his injuries or property
damage in the Complaint, nor does he provide any information
about his dates of discovery or diagnosis. Rather, he claims
to have contracted one or more of the “linked
diseases” identified in the Complaint and to have
generally suffered property damage. The “linked
diseases” include hearing loss.
February 2015, before this lawsuit's filing and as part
of a pre-litigation demand, Mr. Maddox's previous
attorney submitted a chart with putative plaintiffs'
information to USPF and Mueller. This chart contained Mr.
Maddox's identifying information and listed his injury as
hearing loss and his date of diagnosis as 2006. Mr. Maddox
filed this suit on September 21, 2015.
allege that Mr. Maddox's personal injury claims
predicated on his hearing loss are time-barred whether
Alabama law governs or federal law preempts Alabama law.
Defendants argue that Mr. Maddox cannot invoke preemption
because he cannot state a claim under the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
(CERCLA), commonly known as the “Superfund” law.
Mr. Maddox submits that CERCLA preempts the Alabama statute
of limitations in this case and that his personal injury
claims are timely; he notes ...