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Workman v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division

June 1, 2017

JODIE WORKMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HENRY R. WILHOLT JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 19]. The matter has been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos, 19-1, 23 and 29]. For the reasons stated herein, the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         I.

         This case arises from an incident which occurred at the Wal-Mart in Ashland, Kentucky on August 21, 2014. On that day, Plaintiff Jodie Workman went to Wal-Mart with her son to shop for school supplies. [Deposition of Plaintiff, Docket No. 19-2, pg. 53]. In her deposition, she described the incident in detail. When they finished shopping, Plaintiff put her groceries in the trunk of her car and returned her cart next to a cart corral in the parking lot. Id. at 56, 61. When she approached the cart corral, there were several carts extending from the it as well carts surrounding it. Id. at 58. The carts that extended out of the cart corral were collapsed into one another. Id. at 59. There were also carts collapsed into one another next to the cart corral, and some carts were by themselves. Id. at 60. Plaintiff positioned her cart next to the other carts, very carefully, so it would not turn or roll. Id. at 58, 60, 62. She saw carts, in her peripheral vision, ahead of where she placed her cart, begin to move. Id. She does not know why these carts started to move. Id. at 70-71. She does not believe she touched any other carts when she placed her cart next to the carts outside of the cart corral. Id. at 61. She does not know if another customer knocked the carts, starting their motion. Id. at 62. She testified that it was easy to see the carts moving toward her, because this was quite obvious. Id. at 78. When the carts began to move, however, rather than getting out of the way, Plaintiff began collecting the carts and placing them back within the corral. Id. at 62-63. She did this for "probably a good five minutes, " but it "seemed like it took forever." Id. at 63. Plaintiff admitted that no one - not another shopper or a Wal-Mart employee - told her to collect the carts. Id. at 66.

         At some point during the five minutes, Plaintiff noticed a cart coming toward her, and she raised her hand to stop it. Id. at 32, 64. A cart then hit the top of her right hand. Id. at 32, 64. When her right hand was struck by the cart, both of her palms were facing away from the cart and her fingertips were pointed down towards the ground, Id. at 64-65.

         Plaintiffs son was sitting in the car when the accident happened, but did not witness it. Id. at 54. Plaintiff does not know if the cart that hit her was the one she had used while she was shopping. Id. at 65. Plaintiff cannot identify which cart struck her. Id. at 68. She looked at the cart that struck her and saw nothing wrong with it. Id.

         As a result of the impact with carts, Ms. Workman suffered a torn tendon in her hand. She had surgery and was off work because of it for a few months. She alleges that the medical bills were over $40, 000.00 and she continues to have problems with that hand.

         Plaintiff sued Wal-Mart for negligence in Boyd Circuit Court, seeking payment of medical expenses, lost wages, and damages for her pain and suffering and her impaired capacity to earn money.

         The case was removed to this Court upon the basis of diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         Defendant now seeks summary judgement, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to bring forth any evidence that Wal-Mart breached a duty to her or caused the accident.

         II.

         Summary judgment is appropriate when "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.317, 322-23 (1986). 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 onesided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.242, 251-52(1986).

         "Once a moving party has met its burden of production, 'its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Keeneland Ass'n, Inc. v. Barnes, 830 F.Supp. 974, 984 (E.D. Ky. 1993) citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party may not merely 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. In making this determination, the Court must review all the facts and the inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.

         Ultimately, the standard for determining whether summary judgment is appropriate is "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." Booker v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co.,8 ...


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