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Meece v. Custer

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

November 27, 2018



          David L. Bunning United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants William Custer and Savannah Woodworking and Installation, Inc.'s ripe Joint Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. # 37). For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' motion is granted.


          The facts in this case are undisputed. Plaintiff Bryan Meece (“Meece”) was employed by TrueBlue, the corporate parent of staffing firm Labor Ready (a/k/a PeopleReady, Inc.). (Doc. # 37-1 at 2). Labor Ready had been hired by Savannah Woodworking & Installation, Inc. (“Savannah”) to provide temporary employees “to assist with a shipment of fixtures to a Homegoods store in Florence, Kentucky.” (Doc. # 37-2 at 2). The contract between Labor Ready and Savannah notes that the temporary employees would be compensated at $16.25 per hour for “Clean Up” and “Debris Removal.” (Doc. # 37-3). TrueBlue carried workers'-compensation insurance in compliance with Kentucky Law. (Doc. # 37-2).

         Meece was one of the TrueBlue employees assigned to work temporarily for Savannah. (Doc. # 37-4 at 2). On February 16, 2016, Meece was working at Homegoods in Florence “assist[ing] with final delivery of the fixtures” into the store. (Doc. # 37-2 at 2); see also (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 6). Specifically, he was helping to both unload shelving from tractor trailers on the Homegoods loading dock and reload furniture into a tractor trailer. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 6-9). Meece and another employee “were shifting skids with a pallet at the rear of a tractor trailer” and William Custer (“Custer”) was using a forklift to remove the materials from the tractor trailer. Id. at ¶ 8. At some point, Meece was stacking furniture to be loaded back into a tractor trailer and Custer backed the forklift into Meece. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10. The accident shattered Meece's ankle, and “Meece went into shock” as a result of the injury. Id. at ¶ 10.


         Plaintiff Meece filed suit against Custer, Savannah, and Homegoods, Inc. on February 13, 2017. (Doc. # 1). His Complaint included five causes of action-(1) a negligence claim against Custer, (2) a negligence per se claim against Savannah, (3) a negligence claim under a theory of respondeat-superior liability against Savannah, (4) a negligent-entrustment claim against Homegoods, and (5) a punitive-damages claim against Savannah. Id. Homegoods filed its Answer on March 13, 2017, (Doc. # 8), and Savannah filed its Answer the following day. (Doc. # 10). Homegoods was dismissed with prejudice on July 26, 2017, pursuant to an Agreed Order of Dismissal. (Doc. # 25). Custer filed his Answer on September 5, 2017. (Doc. # 31).

         On April 30, 2018, remaining Defendants, Custer and Savannah, jointly moved for summary judgment on all claims. (Doc. # 37). Having been granted an extension of time to respond to the Motion, (Doc. # 43), Meece filed his Response to the Motion on May 29, 2018 (Doc. # 44). Custer and Savannah filed separate replies on June 12 and 13, 2018, respectively. (Docs. # 45 and 46). The Motion is now ripe for the Court's review.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment may be granted when there is no genuine issue of material fact, and an issue can be decided as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). It is the job of the Court to consider the evidence presented and determine if there is a genuine issue which requires the matter to proceed to trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). In doing so, the Court is not to “weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter.” Id.

         The “moving party bears the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact.” Miller v. Maddox, 866 F.3d 386, 389 (6th Cir. 2017). In order to succeed on a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must then put forth evidence showing there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires a trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. A court should find that “there is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Id. Thus, “[a] mere scintilla of evidence” in favor of the non-moving party will not defeat summary judgment. Id. at 252.

         In considering a summary-judgment motion, a court is required to view the evidence in light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw reasonable inferences in their favor. Hamilton Cty. Educ. Ass'n v. Hamilton Cty. Bd. of Educ., 822 F.3d 831, 835 (6th Cir. 2016).

         B. ...

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