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Richardson v. Dollar General Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louiseville

August 4, 2017

BRENDA RICHARDSON PLAINTIFF
v.
DOLLAR GENERAL CORPORATION, DOLLAR GENERAL PARTNERS, DG STRATEGIC VI, LLC, and UNKNOWN DEFENDANT DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          CHARLES R. SIMPSON III, UNITED STATES DISTRICT SENIOR JUDGE.

         Memorandum Opinion

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on the motion of Defendants Dollar General Corporation, Dollar General Partners, and DG Strategic VI, LLC (collectively, “Dollar General”) to alter or amend the Court's May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion and order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), ECF No. 20.[1] Plaintiff Brenda Richardson responded, ECF No. 21. Dollar General replied, ECF No. 22. For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny Dollar General's motion to alter or amend the May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion and order.

         II. Background

         The Court recounted the facts of this case at length in its May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion. See Mem. Op. 5/16/2017 1-2, ECF No. 18. The Court, however, believes a brief review of the events giving rise to the claims and the procedural history of the case would be of assistance in considering the current motion to alter or amend the May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion and order.

         On September 7, 2015, Richardson went to Dollar General's store in Elizabethtown, Kentucky (“the store”) around 12:00 P.M. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 10, ECF No. 1-1; Richardson Dep. 2, ECF No. 16-2. Richardson remembered that she parked her car in front of the store. Richardson Dep. 3, ECF No. 16-2. She said that she began walking towards the store's front entrance. Richardson Dep. 3, ECF No. 13-1. The automatic doors opened. Id. Almost immediately after entering the store, she slipped and fell to the floor. Id.

         Richardson further testified that she did not see that the floor was slippery until she was on the ground. Richardson Dep. 6, ECF No. 16-2. But as she was walking into the store, she saw a yellow cone on the floor that signaled that the floor was slippery. Richardson Dep. 5, ECF No. 13-1. Richardson stated that the yellow cone was beyond where she slipped and fell. Id. at 6.

         Richardson filed suit against Dollar General in the Hardin County, Kentucky Circuit Court in September 2016. Compl. 1, ECF No. 1-1. She asserts that Dollar General was negligent in maintaining the entrance of the store, which caused her injuries. Id. ¶¶ 6-13. She seeks compensatory damages and all other appropriate relief. Id. at 6. Soon after she filed suit in the Hardin County Circuit Court, Dollar General removed the case to this Court. Not. Removal 1, ECF No. 1.

         Dollar General then moved for summary judgment. Mot. Summ. J. 1, ECF No. 13. In relevant part, Dollar General argued that summary judgment should be granted on Richardson's claims because it satisfied the duty of care that a landowner owes to an invitee under Kentucky law by placing a yellow cone near the substance on the floor. Id. at 7-9. In its May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion, the Court explained that this argument was unavailing because-although Dollar General had placed a yellow cone on the floor-Dollar General did “not provide any evidence showing that the cone's placement relative to the substance was a reasonable precaution to prevent invitees from being injured.” Mem. Op. 5/16/2017 8, ECF No. 18 (emphasis in original). The Court also noted, “If the available evidence showed that the yellow cone had been placed sufficiently close to the substance on the floor such that there was no genuine dispute of fact that the cone was a reasonable precaution to prevent injury, summary judgment would be appropriate.” Id.

         III. Discussion

         Dollar General now moves to alter or amend the May 16, 2017 memorandum opinion and order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). Mot. Amend 1, ECF No. 20. Because Dollar General's motion is untimely, Court will also address whether Dollar General is entitled to relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b).

         A. Whether the May 16, 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order Should be Altered or Amended under Rule 59(e)

         Rule 59(e) provides that a party may move to alter or amend a judgment previously issued by the court. Rule 59(e) is intended to permit a court to “rectify its own mistakes in the period following the entry of judgment.” White v. N.H. Dep't of Employment Sec., 455 U.S. 445, 450 (1982). A court may alter a prior judgment under Rule 59(e) based only on (1) “a clear error of law, ” (2) “newly discovered evidence, ” (3) “an intervening change in controlling law, ” or (4) “a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Leisure ...


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