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Tackett v. Vargas

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division at Lexington

July 24, 2014

BETTY RUTH TACKETT, Plaintiff,
v.
THERESA VARGAS, et al., Defendant,

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DANNY C. REEVES, District Judge.

Defendant Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of KY, LLC ("Enterprise") moves to dismiss the claim against it under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). Alternatively, it seeks summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. [Record No. 23] The matter has now been fully briefed. For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Enterprise.

I.

Theresa Vargas[1] rented a vehicle from Enterprise on January 11, 2012. [Record No. 23-1, 23-2] At the time of the rental, Vargas presented a Florida license indicating that she was 31 years old. [Record No. 23-1, 23-2] And while Vargas presented a Florida license, she provided a physical address in Brooklyn, New York. [Record No. 23-2] On January 12, 2012, while operating the rental vehicle owned by Enterprise, Vargas allegedly ran a red light and struck a vehicle in which Tackett was a passenger. Tackett subsequently filed this suit seeking compensation from Vargas and Enterprise. [Record No. 1] The Complaint[2] states, in relevant part:

That [on or about January 12, 2012]... [Vargas], was operating a 2011 Toyota Corolla, owned by [Enterprise] in such a negligent manner so as to collide with the motor vehicle which [Tackett] was occupying, causing [Tackett] to suffer severe bodily injuries.
...
[T]he motor vehicle driven by [Vargas], was owned and under the care, custody and control of [Enterprise], and as such, [Enterprise] was responsible for insuring the safe operation of said vehicle on the public roadway.
...
[Vargas] was operating the motor vehicle with the actual or implied consent of [Enterprise].

[Record No. 1 at ¶¶ 6-9]. Tackett alleges that she incurred damages as a "direct and proximate" result of Enterprise's negligence. [Record No. 1 at ¶¶ 16-19]

II.

Enterprise moves to dismiss the claims against it under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12 or, in the alternative, for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. In support, Enterprise submits an affidavit from Angela Fletcher, Enterprise's Risk Manager, together with a copy of Vargas' rental agreement to establish certain undisputed facts. [Record No. 23-1, 23-2] However, Rule 12(d) provides that, "[if] matters outside the pleadings are presented and not excluded by the court, the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56." In such circumstances, the Court must provide the parties a reasonable opportunity to present all pertinent material. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Because the parties do not dispute the facts regarding the claim against Enterprise, this Court will consider this matter under the Rule 56 standard.[3]

Summary judgment is required when "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); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Chao v. Hall Holding Co., 285 F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). A dispute over a material fact is not "genuine" unless a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. That is, the determination must be "whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986); see Harrison v. Ash, 539 F.3d 510, 516 (6th Cir. 2008). In deciding whether to grant summary ...


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