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Schwartz v. The TJX Companies, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

April 6, 2018




         The court has before it the October 30, 2017 motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant The TJX Companies, Inc. (“TJ Maxx”). (Doc. 25). Pursuant to the court's initial order and November 21, 2017 order, the motion is fully briefed and under submission as of December 21, 2017. (Docs. 7 and 27). The motion is due to be granted for the following reasons.


         On September 15, 2014, Plaintiff and her husband went to TJ Maxx in Oxford, Alabama, to purchase gifts for the pastors at their church. (Doc. 28-2 at 6). Upon entering, Plaintiff got a shopping cart located at the front of the store. (Id. at 7). Plaintiff described the shopping cart as “your regular shopping cart buggy thing, but then the wheels came down and jutted out the back like alligator mouths practically.” (Id.). She stated the wheel “was like something's sticking out in your way.” (Id.). Although she noticed the wheel while getting the shopping cart, Plaintiff did not think it would cause her any problems. (Id.).

         Plaintiff first spent some time shopping for items for herself and finished her shopping in the men's department for the gifts she needed. (Id. at 6-7). After placing the gifts in her shopping cart, she proceeded to the front of the store to check out. (Id. at 7, 9). When she reached the checkout lane, Plaintiff estimated she had been in the store for about 45 minutes. (Id. at 7). At this point, Plaintiff's husband left the store and went to the parking lot to start their car. (Id. at 13).

         Plaintiff turned the shopping cart into the last register and placed it on the side of the counter “where it was supposed to be and the lady [cashier] started unloading it.” (Id. at 9). The cashier began helping Plaintiff remove items in the cart from the front end, as Plaintiff removed items from the rear of the cart. (Id. at 10). As Plaintiff went to remove the last item from the cart, the cashier noticed Plaintiff was having difficulty reaching the item and said she would get it for her. (Id.). The cashier reached for the item, and the cart started rolling back and rolled into Plaintiff. (Id.). Plaintiff testified she believed the cashier pushed the cart toward her because it would not have otherwise moved. (Id.).

         As the cart rolled, “the wheels and the apparatus that came out to hold the wheels . . . caught [Plaintiff's] foot and threw [her] down.” (Id. at 11). Plaintiff explained she “was standing there to get the last . . . little bitty thing out, and when [she] walked over there, it just must have rolled right in front of [her] feet, because it tripped [her] up, and down [she] went before [she] could get anything out.” (Id. at 10). According to Plaintiff, the wheels of the shopping cart were sticking out in a way that caused her to fall. (Id. at 11). Her foot did not get caught between the side of the counter and the shopping cart. (Id.).

         Plaintiff testified she fell to her knees and was injured. (Id. at 12). Plaintiff stated her right knee and left hip were injured, but she did not break anything. (Id.). She contends she has been in continuous pain since the accident. (Id.).


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), summary judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The party asking for summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and by his own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. See 324.

         The substantive law identifies which facts are material and which are irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). All reasonable doubts about the facts and all justifiable inferences are resolved in favor of the non-movant. See Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A dispute is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See id. at 249.


         Plaintiff's complaint alleges two claims against TJ Maxx under Alabama law: negligence and wantonness. (Doc. 1-2 at 2-3). Defendant contends summary judgment is proper as to both claims. The court agrees.

         A. Plaintiff's ...

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