United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
Charles R. Simpson III, United States District Court Senior
case is before the Court on Defendants Mohamed S.
Warsame and Shiidaad Trucking Corporation's
motion for partial summary judgment. DN 15. Plaintiff
Jeanelle Faith responded. DN 16. Defendants replied. DN 16.
Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. Finding that Faith
has failed to come forward with evidence sufficient to
prevail on her claim for punitive damages, the Court will
grant partial summary judgment to Defendants on that issue.
moving for summary judgment must show 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). “[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the
requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A genuine issue for trial exists
when “there is sufficient evidence favoring the
nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that
party.” Id. In undertaking this analysis, the
Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378
party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of
establishing the nonexistence of any issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
They can meet this burden by “citing to particular
parts of materials in the record” or “showing
that the materials cited do not establish the . . . presence
of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). This
burden can also be met by demonstrating that the nonmoving
party “fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that
party's case, and on which that party will bear the
burden of proof at trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S.
considering a motion for summary judgment, “a trial
judge must bear in mind the actual quantum and quality of
proof necessary to support liability.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254. As a result, when the
underlying claim requires “clear and convincing
evidence, ” summary judgment is proper if a plaintiff
fails to present evidence sufficient for a “rational
finder of fact” to find such “clear and
convincing” evidence. Id. See also Compuware Corp.
v. Moody's Investors Servs., Inc., 499 F.3d 520, 525
(6th Cir. 2007).
basic outline of the case is undisputed. On May 10, 2017, at
approximately 10:19 AM, Warsame was driving a tractor trailer
northbound off of Interstate 264 and onto 32nd Street in
Louisville, Kentucky. DN 1-1 at 2; DN 14-2 at 1. In doing so,
he was acting as an employee of Shiidaad Trucking. DN 1-1 at
2; DN 14-2 at 2. As he reached the intersection with River
Park Drive, Warsame drove through the intersection, ignoring
a clearly posted stop sign. DN 1-1 at 2-3; DN 14-1 at 2. In
doing so, Warsame did not yield the right-of-way to Faith, as
required by law, and was negligent in doing so. DN 1-1 at 3;
DN 14-1 at 2. See Ky. Rev. Stat. § 189.330(4);
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 189.290. According to Faith's
tendered expert, Warsame was traveling between 25.6 and 27
miles per hour. DN 11-1 at 47. After impact, he pushed
Faith's vehicle approximately 70.43 feet northward,
coming to rest on the shoulder or 32nd Street. Id.
seek summary judgment on only Faith's punitive damages
claim. In Kentucky, punitive damages are
available where a plaintiff proves, by “clear and
convincing evidence, ” that the defendant acted with
gross negligence, i.e., “negligence [which] was
accompanied by wanton or reckless disregard for the lives,
safety, or property of others.” Gibson v.
Fuel Transp., Inc., 410 S.W.3d 56, 59 (Ky. 2013).
See also Ky. Rev. Stat. § 411.184. The Supreme
Court of Kentucky has had the opportunity to opine on the
importance of limiting the availability of punitive damages
in automobile accident cases:
Nearly all auto accidents are the result of negligent
conduct, though few are sufficiently reckless as to amount to
gross negligence, authorizing punitive damages. We are of the
opinion that punitive damages should be reserved for truly
gross negligence as seen in cases such as Shortridge v.
Rice, 929 S.W.2d 194 (Ky. Ct. App. 1996), Stewart v.
Estate of Cooper, 102 S.W.3d 913 (Ky. 2003), and
Phelps v. Louisville Water Company, 103 S.W.3d 46
(Ky. 2003). In Shortridge and Stewart, the
defendant tortfeasors were driving while intoxicated; and, in
Phelps, the jury was presented with eighteen
instances where Louisville Water Co. misrepresented the
dangerous nature of a highway condition, violated its own
safety policies, and disregarded the Manual on Uniform
Traffic Control Devices, all of which evidenced a conscious
disregard for public safety.
Kinney v. Butcher, 131 S.W.3d 357, 359 (Ky. Ct. App.
2004). Outside of Shortridge, Stewart, and
Phelps, Kentucky has been reticent to go further in
expanding the availability of punitive damages related to
automobile accidents. See Gersh v. Bowman, 239
S.W.3d 567, 572 (Ky. Ct. App. 2007) (a jury could find gross
negligence when the driver was traveling at least thirty-four
miles per hour over the speed limit going into a curve, with
two passengers in the vehicle, when it was dark outside, and
when a passenger warned the driver of the upcoming curve in
the road and the driver said “yeah, I got it”).
opposing the motion for summary judgment, Faith argues that
punitive damages are available because Warsame admitted he
was reckless, Shiidaad intentionally lost or sold the tractor
trailer involved in the collision, and Warsame willfully
disregarded laws, ...