United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. BUNNING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Defendant, T.J. Maxx Companies, Inc. (“T.J.
Maxx”), moves for summary judgment against Plaintiff
Joyce McCord, arguing that Plaintiff has nto stated a claim
upon which relief can be granted. (Doc. # 9). The Motion for
Summary Judgment is fully briefed (Docs. # 10 and 11) and
ripe for review. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. For the reasons that
follow, T.J. Maxx's Motion for Summary Judgment is
granted and Plaintiff's claims are dismissed.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 17, 2016, Plaintiff Joyce McCord, who was
eighty-five-years-old at the time, was shopping at T.J. Maxx
in Florence, Kentucky. While shopping at T.J. Maxx for
approximately an hour and a half, the Plaintiff decided to
purchase dog food, and tried on several articles of clothing
she intended to purchase. (Doc. # 10-1 at 16:12-22). In her
first trip to the fitting room, the Plaintiff tried on a pair
of pajamas. Id. The Plaintiff continued to look
around and found a blouse she was interested in purchasing.
Id. at 16:19-22. As she reentered the fitting room,
the Plaintiff slipped and fell. Id. at 16:24-25.
Maxx employee, or other customers, saw Plaintiff fall. (Doc.
# 9-1 at 69:15-70:10; 73:3-25). However, shortly after the
Plaintiff fell, Ashley Kidwell, an employee, saw the
Plaintiff laying on the ground, and Kelly Roush, the manager
on duty, came into the fitting room to assist the Plaintiff.
Id. at 68:17-23; 73:22-25. Neither the Plaintiff nor
any T.J. Maxx employees observed any foreign substances on
the floor before or after the fall. Id. at 69:13-14.
Nevertheless, the Plaintiff contends that she slipped, and
therefore, there must have been something on the floor. (Doc.
# 10 at 6).
18, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit against T.J. Maxx in Boone
County Circuit Court, asserting a claim for negligence. (Doc.
# 1-2 at 2-3). Specifically, the Plaintiff alleges that T.J.
Maxx violated its duty to maintain safe premises for the use
of their business invitees, and that as a result, the
Plaintiff sustained injuries. Id. at 2. On March I,
2017, T.J. Maxx removed this action to federal court based on
diversity jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
(Doc. # 1). On April 20, 2017, T.J. Maxx filed the instant
Motion for Summary Judgment, seeking judgment as a matter of
law and arguing that the Plaintiff has failed to establish an
essential element of her claim-the existence of a foreign
substance on the floor. (Doc. # 9).
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when the record reveals “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). A genuine dispute of material fact exists
where “there is sufficient evidence … for a jury
to return a verdict for” the non-moving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). The “moving party bears the burden of showing
the absence of any genuine issues of material fact.”
Sigler v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 532 F.3d 469, 483
(6th Cir. 2008). Once a party files a properly supported
motion for summary judgment, by either affirmatively negating
an essential element of the non-moving party's claim or
establishing an affirmative defense, “the adverse party
must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.
However, “the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence
in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be
insufficient.” Id. at 252.
Court must “accept Plaintiff's evidence as true and
draw all reasonable inferences in [her] favor.”
Laster v. City of Kalamazoo, 746 F.3d 714, 726 (6th
Cir. 2014) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The
Court is not permitted to “make credibility
determinations” or “weigh the evidence when
determining whether an issue of fact remains for
trial.” Id. (citing Logan v. Denny's,
Inc., 259 F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001)). “The
ultimate question 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.'” Back v. Nestle USA, Inc.,
694 F.3d 571, 575 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Anderson,
477 U.S. at 251-52). If there is a dispute over facts that
might affect the outcome of the case under governing law, the
entry of summary judgment is precluded. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248.
party moving for summary judgment, T.J. Maxx must shoulder
the burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute of
material fact as to at least one essential element of
Plaintiff's claim. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also
Laster, 746 F.3d at 726 (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)). Assuming T.J. Maxx
satisfies its burden, the Plaintiff “must-by
deposition, answers to interrogatories, affidavits, and
admissions on file-show specific facts that reveal a genuine
issue for trial.” Laster, 746 F.3d at 726
(citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324).
Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
prevail on a negligence claim under Kentucky law, the
Plaintiff must prove: (1) that the defendant owed the
plaintiff a duty of care, (2) breach of that duty, and (3)
that the breach was the legal causation of the consequent
injury. Pathways, Inc. v. Hammons, 113 S.W.3d 85,
88-89 (Ky. 2003); Wright v. House of Imports, Inc.,
381 S.W.3d 209, 213 (Ky. 2012). The existence of a duty is a
question of law for the court to decide, breach and injury
are questions of fact for the jury to determine.
Pathways, 113 S.W.3d at 89.
premises-liability context, “a property owner, such as
[T.J. Maxx], must exercise reasonable care to protect
invitees, such as Plaintiff, from hazardous conditions that
the property owner knew about or should have discovered and
that the invitee could not be expected to discover.”
Denney v. Steak N Shake Operations, Inc., 559
F.App'x 485, 487 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Lanier v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 99 S.W.3d 431, 432-33 (Ky.
2003)). Therefore, the first element-the existence of a
duty-has been ...