United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
K. KALLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gray was injured when he slipped and fell while servicing
equipment at LB Foster's pipe-coating plant. He filed
this lawsuit, alleging negligence and wantonness, doc. 1, and
LB Foster filed a motion for summary judgment, doc. 47. The
motion is fully briefed, docs. 48, 52, 53 & 54, and ripe
for consideration. After reading the briefs,  viewing the
evidence, and considering the relevant law, the court grants
LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is proper “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. “Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment,
after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a
party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322 (1986) (alteration in original). The moving party
bears the initial burden of proving the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact. Id. at 323. The burden then
shifts to the nonmoving party, who is required to “go
beyond the pleadings” to establish that there is a
“genuine issue for trial.” Id. at 324
(internal quotations omitted). A dispute about a material
fact is genuine “if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
summary judgment, the court must construe the evidence and
all reasonable inferences arising from it in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Adickes v. S. H. Kress
& Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); see also
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. Any factual disputes will be
resolved in the non-moving party's favor when sufficient
competent evidence supports the non-moving party's
version of the disputed facts. See Pace v.
Capobianco, 283 F.3d 1275, 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2002)
(a court is not required to resolve disputes in the
non-moving party's favor when that party's version of
events is supported by insufficient evidence). However,
“mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations
are legally insufficient to defeat a summary judgment
motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326
(11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mountain Park,
Ltd. v. Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)).
Moreover, “[a] mere ‘scintilla' of evidence
supporting the opposing party's position will not
suffice; there must be enough of a showing that the jury
could reasonably find for that party.” Walker v.
Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252)).
case arises out of an accident that occurred at a
pipe-coating plant. The plaintiff, John Gray, is an
electrician employed by the American Cast Iron Pipe Company
(ACIPCO), a pipe manufacturer with its principal facilities
in Birmingham, Alabama. Docs. 1 at 4; 48 at 2; 49-1 at 9,
221. The ACIPCO property covers a wide swath of land, which
is closed to the public, protected by physical barriers, and
patrolled by ACIPCO security guards twenty-four hours a day.
Doc. 49-1 at 10. ACIPCO leases a pipe-coating plant on its
property to the defendant, LB Foster, a construction
equipment manufacturer. Docs. 1 at 3; 9 at 1; 49-1 at 3,
point in 2013, ACIPCO contracted LB Foster to coat the pipes
for one of its manufacturing jobs. Docs. 48 at 3; 49-1 at
11-12, 241. Most of LB Foster's pipe-coating orders
require the application of “fusion bonded epoxy”
coating onto the exterior of the pipes. Docs. 48 at 3-4; 49-1
at 3-5, 10. The 2013 order, however, required both exterior
and interior coating. Docs. 48 at 3-4; 49-1 at 3-5, 12, 60.
Before the order, LB Foster had performed interior coating,
or “inner diameter coating, ” only three times,
doc. 49-1 at 232, so it had to re-launch its inner diameter
blast line, or “ID blast line, ” an area of the
plant where highly specialized machines clean the pipes
before coating. Doc. 49-1 at 12.
these machines is a “blast head cart, ” which
moves on tracks and sprays abrasive steel “blast
shot” beads inside the pipe to clean out any dirt and
debris. Docs. 49-1 at 12; 55-3 at 2. The “rear blast
cabinet, ” or “dust catcher, ” then
captures many of these beads and other debris. Doc. 49-1 at
12. A conveyor belt, called the “reclaim conveyor,
” runs between the blast head cart and the blast
cabinet and catches most of the remaining blast shot beads
for reuse. Doc. 49-1 at 12. This conveyor belt is guarded by
metal plates, painted yellow and positioned directly above
the belt. Doc. 49-1 at 13. The yellow guard plates tilt at a
downward angle so that the blast shot will fall onto the
conveyor belt below. Docs. 49-1 at 13; 49-2 at 79-85. These
devices are not capable of capturing all the blast shot
beads, however, so much of it remains on the floor. Doc. 48
at 8-11. The beads are difficult to differentiate from dirt
and dust and are therefore hard to see. Doc. 53-1 at 29.
Walking on the beads poses a hazard that is like
“walking on ice.” Doc. 49-1 at 38, 82. To reduce
the risk of slipping, LB Foster keeps brooms on the floor so
that employees working on the ID blast line can periodically
sweep up any remaining discarded blast shot. Doc. 49-2 at 94.
Foster employs its own electricians to service its equipment,
but, per an agreement with ACIPCO, LB Foster can request that
some of ACIPCO's electricians be “on call”
during busier periods. Docs. 1 at 5; 48 at 2; 49-1 at 9-11,
59-63. ACIPCO's on call electricians have free access to
the LB Foster plant, but generally sit in their trucks and
wait for a call after clocking in at the electronics
department. Doc. 49-1 at 4, 63, 64, 103.
21, 2014, Gray was working an on call shift and entered the
LB Foster plant, although it is not clear whether LB Foster
actually requested an on call electrician that day. Docs. 48
at 2; 49-1 at 6, 44; 53 at 3. According to eyewitnesses and
LB Foster's incident report, Gray was inspecting one of
the machines on the blast line when he suddenly slipped and
fell onto the yellow guard plates above the conveyor belt.
Docs. 48 at 2; 49-1 at 6, 44; 53 at 3; 53-1 at 1-7. The fall
knocked Gray unconscious, and first responders had to
resuscitate him. Docs. 49-1 at 6, 68, 98; 49-2 at 79. Gray
has no recollection of what happened that day, doc. 49-1 at
146, but the parties agree that he likely slipped on the
blast shot beads. See docs. 48, 52, 53, & 54.
Witnesses give conflicting accounts as to whether there was a
caution sign warning of the danger of blast shot at the time
of the accident. Compare doc. 55-2 at 20
with docs. 53-1 at 74 and 49-1 at 106.
filed this lawsuit alleging that LB Foster is liable for
negligence and wantonness for failing to warn him of the
danger of the ID blast line. Doc. 1. LB Foster has moved for
summary judgment on both claims. Doc. 48.