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Keltner v. General Motors, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

September 3, 2019

DEBRA S. KELTNER et al. PLAINTIFFS
v.
GENERAL MOTORS, LLC et al. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GREG N. STIVERS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (DN 96) and Defendant's Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum (DN 125). The matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Memorandum is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises from the explosion of a 2006 Chevrolet utility truck that resulted in the death of Mitchell O. Coomer and Steven A. Keltner. (Compl. ¶ 16, DN 1). Plaintiffs Debra S. Keltner[1] and Jason Coomer[2] (“Plaintiffs”) allege the truck's bi-fuel system was defective, which caused the explosion. (Compl. ¶¶ 25-26).

         Landi Renzo USA Corporation (“Landi”) manufactures component parts for bi-fuel systems. (Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 2, DN 96 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]). Believing it was not involved in the production of the system at issue in this litigation, Landi propounded requests for admission to Plaintiffs asking them to admit that Landi was not involved in the design, manufacture, sale, distribution, installation, marketing, or inspection of any component of the truck. (Pl.'s Answer Def.'s First Set Reqs. Admis. 1-4, DN 96-2). Plaintiffs responded with a blanket statement that the parties had not yet developed a discovery plan, so that the requests for admission were premature and therefore denied. (Pls.' Answer Def.'s First Set Reqs. Admis. 1-7).

         In support of its present motion, Landi has submitted Defendant General Motors LLC's (“GM”) responses to Plaintiffs' first set of interrogatories. Plaintiffs asked GM to identify all individuals and corporations “who assisted or participated (in any way) with the design, manufacture, production, installation, sale and/or distribution of the compressed natural gas (“CNG“), bi-fuel system contained in one 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD utility truck, VIN 1GBHC24U06E248199, which is at issue in Plaintiffs' Complaint.” (Gen. Motors' Resp. Pls.' First Set Interrogs. 3-4, DN 96-3). General Motors did not list Landi among the entities identified in its answer. Landi now contends Plaintiffs cannot show that Landi was involved in the manufacture of the relevant fuel system and that it is therefore entitled to summary judgment.

         Additionally, Landi has moved for leave to file a supplemental memorandum in support of its motion. (Def.'s Mot. Leave File Suppl. Mem. 1, DN 125). The supporting memorandum, however, adds only that GM Canada has also responded to discovery requests and do not list Landi as involved in the design or manufacture of the CNG bi-fuel system. (Def.'s Suppl. Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 2, DN 125-1).

         In response, Plaintiffs argue that discovery is in its infancy and summary judgment would be premature at this point. (Pls.' Resp. Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 10, DN 98 [hereinafter Pls.' Resp.]). Plaintiffs note that, at the time of filing their response to Landi's motion, they had not deposed any Landi officers nor received responses to their first set of interrogatories and requests for production. (Pls.' Resp. 10-12).

         In support of their objection, Plaintiffs' counsel has submitted an affidavit as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d). (Adamson Aff., DN 98-8). Plaintiffs aver they need more discovery because evidence collected from the truck explosion has not yet been analyzed, and Plaintiffs do not possess sufficient information to refute Landi's allegation that it was not involved. (Adamson Aff. ¶¶ 2-9).

         II. JURISDICTION

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 as there is complete diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $75, 000.00.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must determine whether there is any genuine issue of material fact that would preclude entry of judgment for the moving party as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of stating the basis for the motion and identifying evidence in the record that demonstrates an absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the non-moving party must then produce specific evidence proving the existence of a genuine dispute of fact for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         While the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show the existence of some “metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (citation omitted). Rather, the non-moving party must present specific facts proving that a genuine factual dispute exists by “citing to particular parts of the 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 ...


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