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Leal v. Tsa Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

February 23, 2015

MICHELLE LEAL, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
TSA STORES, INC., d/b/a THE SPORTS AUTHORITY, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM C. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff, Michelle Leal (hereafter "Leal") suffered injuries in a bicycling accident. She filed a state court complaint against several defendants including TSA Stores Inc. d/b/a The Sports Authority (hereafter "Sports Authority"), Urban Express Assembly LLC (hereafter "Urban Express"), Yong Qi Bicycle Industrial Co. ("Yong Qi"), LTD., Go Configure, Inc., and Guhlam Thomas ("Thomas") (referred collectively herein as "Defendants") alleging that their negligence in designing, manufacturing, producing, and assembling the bicycle and/or a design defect with the bicycle were responsible for her injuries.[1] The case was then removed to federal court. [DE 3].

Defendant, Urban Express filed the present Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, [2] asserting that there is no genuine issue of material fact that it either assembled or was negligent in the assembly of the bicycle thereby causing the injuries suffered by Leal. [DE 12]. Plaintiff did not originally oppose the motion but two other defendants did. After the Court requested supplemental briefing on the issue of whether the other defendants had standing to oppose the motion for summary judgment [DE 52], Plaintiff sought leave to file a belated response which the Court granted. [DE 72, 74].

For the following reasons, Urban Express's Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED.

APPLICABLE STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A "material fact" is one that "might affect the outcome of the suit." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). "[T]he burden on the moving party may be discharged by showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On August 17, 2011, Leal was injured while riding her bicycle, a K2 Breeze, which was purchased by Leal's husband, already assembled, at Sports Authority. [Second Amended Complaint, ¶8]. The bicycle was purchased on July 7, 2011, [3] from the Sports Authority store located in Merrillville, Indiana.

According to Leal, while riding the bicycle, the handlebar shifted suddenly causing her to fall. [ Id. ¶8]. Leal was cycling uphill and put pressure on the handlebars of the bicycle at which time the handlebars came loose turning all the way to the left. As a result of the bicycle malfunction and the resulting fall, Leal was injured.

Prior to Leal's accident, on February 1, 2011, Urban Express entered into a "Delivery, Assembly, and Installation Services Agreement ("the Agreement") with Sports Authority. [Affidavit of Arthur Lagrega ("Lagrega Aff" or "Lagrega"), ¶3]. Under the terms of the Agreement, when requested, Urban Express provided pickup services at Sports Authority locations and delivery, assembly, and installation services as well as swap out services at Sports Authority customer locations. [ Id ]. Equipment covered under the Agreement included bicycles, fitness equipment, sporting goods, and grills. [ Id. at ¶4.].

As it pertained to bicycles, Urban Express did not ship or deliver any bicycles to Sports Authority under the Agreement. Rather, Sports Authority was required to place an order with Urban Express indicating the equipment Sports Authority needed assembled under the Agreement and the quantity of equipment that was required to be assembled. In turn, Urban Express arranged to have an independent contractor technician schedule a date to assemble the equipment, including bicycles. [ Id. at ¶5]. However, under the terms of the Agreement, the Sports Authority also had the right to have its own employees assemble bicycles at the Sports Authority location. [ Id. at ¶7].

Lagrega is the President of Urban Express and has held that position at all relevant times relating to this lawsuit. According to Lagrega, each time an independent contractor technician visits the Sports Authority location to assemble or repair equipment pursuant to the Agreement, the technician generates an invoice that logs particular information including: the date of the visit, the technician's name, the particular Sports Authority location, the name of the store manager, the serial and model numbers of the equipment being assembled or repaired, and the assembly or repair code, Lagrega Aff. ¶8. The invoice contains a signature line for the Sports Authority manager and contains the following language, "By signing this invoice I authorize payment to the vendor o associate for In-store services rendered. I have verified and completed the Bike Quality Checklist and personally ensured that the bikes built today are in ride ready condition." Id. at ¶9. These invoices are generated and maintained as part of Urban Express's ordinary course of business.

Lagrega regularly undertakes a review of the invoices. The bicycle involved in this matter is a K2 Trine or Breeze bicycle with serial number G100711036 purchased on or around July 27, 2011. Lagrega reviewed all invoices from March 6, 2011 through August 1, 2011 for the Merrillville, Indiana store where Leal purchased the bicycle but was unable to locate an invoice for the assembly or repair of the a K2 Trine or Breeze bicycle with the serial number ...


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