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White v. Transportation Services, Inc.

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

December 21, 2017

WILLIAM STEFAN WHITE, et al. PLAINTIFF
v.
TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, INC. et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH H. MCKINLEY, JR., CHIEF JUDGE

         There are six matters currently before the Court: Defendant Morales' Motion for Summary Judgment [DN 61], Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DN 100], Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Exhibit [DN 127], Defendant Morales' Motion to Strike [DN 128], Defendant Morales' Motion to Withdraw and Amend [DN 129], and Plaintiff's Motion to Deem Requests for Admissions Admitted [DN 130]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.

         I. Background

         This case arises out of a vehicular accident that occurred on August 6, 2016 in Madisonville, Kentucky. The collision occurred when Krystal White was driving down I-69 along with her infant daughter in the backseat of the car. She collided with an 18-wheeler truck owned by Transportation Services, Inc. (“TSI”) and driven by Genaro Sanchez Ramirez. At the time, Ramirez was on route to Dayton, Ohio with his co-driver, David M. Morales. Both drivers were employees of TSI Logistica Fronteriza (“LF”).

         Krystal White was pronounced dead at the scene. Plaintiff's infant daughter suffered injuries as well. This lawsuit was initiated by Krystal White's husband, William Stefan White, on behalf of himself, his deceased wife, and his two minor children. Plaintiffs allege that TSI, Ramirez, Morales, and LF are liable for negligence, negligence per se, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and gross negligence. Additionally, Plaintiffs claim that TSI and LF are liable for negligent retention, entrustment, supervision, and training.

         II. Standard of Review

         In order to grant a motion for summary judgment, the Court must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the non-moving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record” or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence . . . of a genuine dispute[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         III. Preliminary Motions

         Before deciding either motion for summary judgment, the Court must decide which facts it is willing to consider on the merits. At issue here are four motions relating to Defendant Morales' failure to respond to Plaintiff's properly served Request for Admission [DN 94] (“The RFA”). Both parties acknowledge that Defendant Morales' failed to respond to The RFA within the thirty-day time frame proscribed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(3). For this reason, Plaintiffs ask the Court to deem The RFA as admitted, in accordance with this statute. (Mot. to Deem RFA Nonresponse Admitted [DN 130].) In addition, Plaintiffs request that they be allowed to file supplements to their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DN 100] and response to Defendant Morales' Motion for Summary Judgment [DN 95] to include the additional facts obtained from The RFA admissions. (Mot. to Supplement [DN 127].)

         Defendant Morales opposes both of these motions. In responding to Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement, Morales filed a Motion to Strike [DN 128]. However, as Magistrate Judge Brennenstuhl has previously informed Defendants, a motion to strike is not the appropriate procedural vehicle to address opposition to a motion. (See Order [DN 108] at 4.) For this reason, Morales' Motion to Strike is DENIED and the information within will be treated as a response to Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement. Further, Morales asks that he be allowed to withdraw or amend The RFA, essentially asking that the Court permit him to submit a tardy response. (Mot. to Withdraw and Amend [DN 129].)

         Section 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the rules related to requests for admission. “A matter is admitted unless, within 30 days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a written answer or objection addressed to the matter and signed by the party or its attorney.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36 (a)(3). Therefore, because Morales failed to submit an answer or objection to The RFA to Plaintiffs within 30 days, the matters requested within The RFA are admitted and Plaintiffs' Motion to Deem Requests for Admission Admitted [DN 130] is GRANTED.

         However, a matter admitted under Rule 36 “is conclusively established unless the court, on motion, permits the admission to be withdrawn or amended.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). Further, “the court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on the merits.” Id.

         In accordance with 36(b), Morales has moved the Court to withdraw or amend The RFA. After consideration, the Court finds that Morales meets the two prong test set forth in the rule. First, granting this motion will allow the question of Morales' liability to be decided on the merits rather than because of a missed deadline during discovery. Second, the Court finds that Plaintiffs will not be prejudiced by having to prove Morales' liability in this case, a burden the Plaintiffs were prepared to bear had it not been for the late response to the requests for admissions. Therefore, Defendant Morales' Motion to ...


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