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Sambrooks v. Choiseme

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

February 25, 2015

TAMMY SAMBROOKS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CLAUDE CHOISEME, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

RUDY LOZANO, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the: (1) Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, filed by Defendants, Claude Choiseme, Walgreen-Oshkosh Inc., d/b/a Walgreen Co., and Transervice Lease Corp., d/b/a Tranverse Lease Corp., on May 7, 2014 (DE #34); and (2) Motion to Strike Certain Exhibits Designated By Plaintiffs, filed by Defendants, Claude Choiseme, Walgreen-Oshkosh Inc., d/b/a Walgreen Co., and Transervice Lease Corp., d/b/a Tranverse Lease Corp., on June 6, 2014 (DE #42). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Strike (DE #42) is DENIED as MOOT. Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (DE #34) is GRANTED. The Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant, Transervice Lease Corp. d/b/a Transverse Lease Corp., are hereby DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. Additionally, the claims for reckless and willful and wanton conduct (for punitive damages) are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The remaining claims in the complaint REMAIN PENDING. Finally, Plaintiffs' request for additional discovery pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d) is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

This litigation arises from a motor vehicle accident which occurred on May 14, 2010, on southbound U.S. 41 in St. John, Lake County, Indiana, between Defendant, Claude Choiseme (hereinafter "Choiseme" and Plaintiff, Tammy Sambrooks (hereinafter "Sambrooks"). Defendants moved for partial summary judgment, arguing they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the claims against Defendant, Transervice, and on all the claims for reckless, willful, and wanton conduct against all the Defendants. (DE #34). Plaintiffs filed a response memorandum on May 23, 2014 (DE #41), and Defendants filed a reply on June 6, 2014 (DE #44). Therefore, this motion is fully briefed and ripe for adjudication. Additionally, Defendants filed a motion to strike certain exhibits designated by Plaintiffs (DE #42). Plaintiffs failed to file a response to the motion to strike Plaintiffs' Exhibits A, E, and F, which Defendants argue are not admissible for the purpose of ruling on this motion because they are not authenticated.

DISCUSSION

The standards that generally govern summary judgment motions are familiar. Pursuant to Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is proper only if it is demonstrated that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Nebraska v. Wyoming, 507 U.S. 584, 590 (1993); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the nonmovant. Karazanos v. Navistar Int'l Transp. Corp., 948 F.2d 332, 335 (7th Cir. 1991); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must view all facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; NUCOR Corp. v. Aceros Y Maquilas De Occidente, 28 F.3d 572, 583 (7th Cir. 1994).

The burden is upon the movant to identify those portions of, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, " if any, that the movant believes, "demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. Once the movant has met this burden, the nonmovant may not rest upon mere allegations, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Becker v. Tenenbaum-Hill Assocs., Inc., 914 F.2d 107, 110 (7th Cir. 1990); Schroeder v. Lufthansa German Airlines, 875 F.2d 613, 620 (7th Cir. 1989). "Whether a fact is material depends on the substantive law underlying a particular claim and only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.'" Walter v. Fiorenzo, 840 F.2d 427, 434 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248).

"[A] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleading, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact which requires trial." Beard v. Whitley Cnty. REMC, 840 F.2d 405, 410 (7th Cir. 1988) (emphasis in original); see also Hickey v. A.E. Staley Mfg., 995 F.2d 1385, 1391 (7th Cir. 1993). Therefore, if a party fails to establish the existence of an essential element on which the party bears the burden of proof at trial, summary judgment will be appropriate. In this situation, there can be, "no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

In a diversity case, like this action brought under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332, this Court applies Indiana state substantive law and federal procedure. See, e.g., Erie v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938); Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 465 (1965); Trytko v. Hubbell, Inc., 28 F.3d 715, 719-20 (7th Cir.1994)(citing Kutsugeras v. AVCO Corp., 973 F.2d 1341, 1346 (7th Cir. 1992)).

Motion to Strike

The Defendants filed a Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Exhibits A, E, and F, which are not authenticated. Plaintiffs' Exhibit A is the Indiana Standard Crash Report (DE #40-1); Plaintiffs' Exhibit E is the USDOT Safety Measurement System Carrier Overview (DE #40-5); and Plaintiffs' Exhibit F is the USDOT Safety Measurement System Inspection Report (DE #40-6). Plaintiffs did not respond to the motion to strike.

Motions to strike are heavily disfavored, and usually only granted in circumstances where the contested evidence causes prejudice to the moving party. Kuntzman v. Wal-Mart, 673 F.Supp.2d 690, 695 (N.D. Ind. 2009); Gaskin v. Sharp Elec. Corp., No. 2:05-CV-303, 2007 WL 2228594, at *1 (N.D. Ind. July 30, 2007). As discussed below, even considering the evidence set forth by Plaintiffs (including unauthenticated Exhibits A, E, and F), partial summary judgment is still appropriate, and this Court prefers to rule upon all the evidence before it. Therefore, the motion to strike (DE #42) is DENIED AS MOOT.

Motion For Partial ...


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