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Huff v. Howmedica Osteonics

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

September 30, 2014

MILDRED J. HUFF, Plaintiff,
v.
HOWMEDICA OSTEONICS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

THOMAS B. RUSSELL, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Howmedica Osteonics Corp.'s motion for summary judgment (Docket #9) and motion to dismiss (Docket #10). Plaintiff Mildred Huff has responded to both. (Docket # 15, 18). Defendant has replied. (Docket #22, 23). Accordingly, these matters now are ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Docket #9) will be DENIED and Defendant's motion to dismiss (Docket #10) will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

BACKGROUND

Defendant Howmedica Osteonics Corp., Stryker Corporation, and Stryker Sales Corporation (collectively "Howmedica") market and sell the ShapeMatch Cutting Guide ("ShapeMatch"). The ShapeMatch is a medical device which assists surgeons in performing knee replacement surgery. (Docket #15).

Plaintiff Mildred Huff underwent knee replacement surgery in August, 2012. Huff's surgeon used the ShapeMatch during surgery. After the surgery, Huff experienced knee pain and instability. She subsequently underwent a second surgery. (Docket #15).

Huff informed Howmedica of her knee problems. Howmedica investigated and the parties discussed settling the dispute. Howmedica claims that Huff orally agreed to settle the dispute. Howmedica drafted a settlement agreement and sent it to Huff. She rejected the first draft because it incorrectly stated that she was not a beneficiary of Medicare. (Docket #9). Howmedica sent a revised draft. Huff refused to sign this draft as well. (Docket #9). Howmedica has moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Huff orally agreed to settle her claims.

Huff filed this lawsuit asserting, among other things, that Howmedica breached implied and express warranties. Howmedica moves to dismiss the warranty claims on the grounds that Huff did not have a contract with Howmedica because Huff's surgeon, and not Huff, purchased the ShapeMatch.

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that pleadings, including complaints, contain a "short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A defendant may move to dismiss a claim or case because the complaint fails to "state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must presume all of the factual allegations in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency, Inc. v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Great Lakes Steel v. Deggendorf, 716 F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir. 1983)). "The court need not, however, accept unwarranted factual inferences." Id. (citing Morgan v. Church's Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th Cir. 1987)).

Summary judgment is available under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) if the moving party can establish that the "pleadings, depositions, answer to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, a court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

"[N]ot every issue of fact or conflicting inference presents a genuine issue of material fact." Street v. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989). The test is "whether the party bearing the burden of proof has presented a jury question as to each element in the case." Hartsel v. Keys, 87 F.3d 795, 799 (6th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff must present more than a mere scintilla of evidence. To support this position, he must present evidence on which the trier of fact could find for the plaintiff. See id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). Mere speculation will not suffice to defeat a motion for summary judgment: "[t]he mere existence of a colorable factual dispute will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. A genuine dispute on an issue of material fact must exist to render summary judgment inappropriate." Monette v. Electronic Data Systems Corp., 90 F.3d 1173, 1177 (6th Cir. 1996).

DISCUSSION

I. Whether the parties orally agreed to settle is a factual issue for the jury.

"[T]he fact that a compromise agreement is verbal and not yet reduced to writing does not make it any less binding. Furthermore, if a dispute exists as to whether an oral agreement was reached, the issue is to be resolved by a jury." Motorists Mut. Ins. Co. v. Glass, 996 S.W.2d 437, 445 (Ky. 1997); Frear v. P.T.A. Indus., 103 S.W.3d 99, 106 (Ky. 2003) ("a question of fact appropriate for jury resolution will exist when a ...


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