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Brock v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

November 4, 2013

SOL D. BROCK, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court on the motion of Defendant Ford Motor Company ("Defendant") for summary judgment. (DN 39). Plaintiff Sol D. Brock ("Plaintiff") has filed a response to Defendant's motion (DN 40), to which Defendant has replied (DN 41). Fully briefed, the matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's motion for summary judgment (DN 39) will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed. Plaintiff is a Kentucky resident who originally filed this state law personal injury action in Jefferson Circuit Court on December 1, 2011. In his complaint, Plaintiff asserted a negligence claim against Defendant and sought damages for personal injuries he allegedly sustained at Defendant's facility.

Defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Michigan. After Defendant was properly served, it timely removed the case to this court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (DN 1). Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint, adding Voith Industrial Services, Inc. as a defendant. (DN 14). On November 8, 2012, we granted Voith Industrial Services' motion to dismiss the claims against it (DN 18) on the ground that such claims were barred by the statute of limitations. (DN 30). The parties then engaged in fact discovery, which they completed on or before January 29, 2013. Defendant has now moved for summary judgment. (DN 39).

Plaintiff is a truck driver who operated under an independent contractor agreement with TransCorr, LLC ("TransCorr"), an Indiana trucking company. TransCorr, in turn, subcontracted with Defendant to pick up and deliver vehicle parts to and from Defendant's Kentucky Truck Plant ("Plant"). On December 16, 2010, TransCorr sent Plaintiff to pick up vehicle parts at the Plant and deliver them to a contractor in Ohio. While waiting to pick up his load at the Plant, Plaintiff fell on snow and ice and allegedly suffered injuries to his lower back.

After the incident, one of Defendant's employees filed a Preliminary Initial Security Report which indicated that Plaintiff "slipped and fell on ice landing on his hand and leg" and instructed Defendant's snow removal company to put salt in the area in which Plaintiff fell. (DN 14-1). Plaintiff alleges that the area where he fell had not been cleaned or salted and that he was not warned about the snow, ice, or other dangerous conditions on Defendant's premises. Plaintiff did not file a workers' compensation claim with TransCorr or Defendant, but rather submitted a claim to-and was approved for coverage by-OneBeacon Insurance, through which he had previously purchased truckers' occupational accident insurance. That policy specifically states that it is not a substitute for workers' compensation insurance.

II. STANDARD

A court may grant a motion for summary judgment if it finds that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and of identifying the portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the nonmoving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

The evidence must be construed in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bohn Aluminum & Brass Corp. v. Storm King Corp., 303 F.2d 425 (6th Cir. 1962). However, the nonmoving party is required to do more than simply show there is some "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party cannot rely upon the assertions in its pleadings; rather, that party must come forward with probative evidence, such as sworn affidavits, to support its claims. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. It must present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmoving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [nonmoving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant asserts the "up-the-ladder" defense[1] to support its contention that it is immune from tort liability. According to Defendant, the Kentucky Workers' Compensation Act ("KWCA") provides the exclusive remedy in this case. This defense is outlined in KRS §§ 342.610 and 342.690. KRS § 342.610(2) states in part as follows:

A contractor who subcontracts all or any part of a contract and his or her carrier shall be liable for the payment of compensation to the employees of the subcontractor unless the subcontractor primarily liable for the payment of such compensation has secured the payment of compensation ...

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