United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
before the Court is Plaintiffs Stephen and Angela
Dyniewski's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment with
respect to liability on the negligence claim. [DE 32]. The
motion is fully briefed and ripe for decision. [DE 33, 34,
40]. For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED on
the issue of liability alone, leaving outstanding the issue
of damages. The Defendants' Motion to Supplement the
record with unsigned versions of draft stipulations
contemplated by the parties is DENIED [DE 44], as the
exhibits would not affect the outcome of this Order even if
they could constitute evidence.
case arises from a motor vehicle accident which occurred on
May 6, 2015, at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Coolwood
Drive in Valparaiso, Indiana, involving an automobile driven
by Plaintiff Stephen Dyniewski (“Dyniewski”) and
a tractor-trailer driven by Defendant Dalius Rachlevicius
(“Rachlevicius”). On account of the accident,
Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint in state court
on July 2, 2015, alleging that Rachlevicius collided with
Dyniewski's vehicle, causing Dyniewski to suffer serious
and debilitating injuries. Angela Dyniewski, Stephen's
wife, filed a related claim for loss of
consortium. [DE 7]. Defendants removed the case to
this Court on August 16, 2015, based on diversity
the case's inception, Defendants have admitted that
Rachlevicius was negligent in his operation of the
tractor-trailer involved in the subject accident and that, as
a result of such negligence, “contact occurred”
between the tractor-trailer Rachlevicius was operating and
the automobile Dyniewski was driving. [DE 29 at 6, 10]. No
one disputes that Dyniewski's car was damaged and he was
taken by ambulance to the emergency room. [DE 33-5].
Defendants further admitted that AG Lines is vicariously
liable for Rachlevicius' negligence at the time of the
subject accident. [DE 29 at 7]. Defendants have also conceded
that they do not have any information indicating that
Dyniewski, or any nonparty, did anything to cause or
contribute to the collision. [DE 41-1]. Defendants have only
denied that Rachlevicius' negligence proximately caused
all of Dyniewski's alleged injuries and other losses
claimed by Plaintiffs. [DE 29, 33-1, 34-1].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate when 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). A
genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“Once a party has made a properly-supported motion for
summary judgment, the nonmoving party may not simply rest
upon the pleadings but must instead submit evidentiary
materials that set forth specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.” Siegel v. Shell Oil
Co., 612 F.3d 932, 937 (7th Cir. 2010) (internal
quotation marks omitted). At the summary judgment stage, the
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
Court need not delve into a lengthy discussion here, given
that the parties' arguments unnecessarily focuses on mere
semantics. Essentially, Defendants have admitted that it
breached a duty owed to Dyniewski which resulted in a
vehicular accident. See Ford Motor Co. v. Rushford,
868 N.E.2d 806, 810 (Ind. 2007) (stating the elements of a
negligence claim); see also Romero v. Brady, 5
N.E.3d 1166, 1168 (Ind.Ct.App. 2014) (noting that motorists
have a duty to use due care to avoid collisions).
Defendants only deny the extent of the damages claimed by
Plaintiffs as a result of the accident. Thus, Defendants have
admitted liability for the accident, but Plaintiffs will
still need to prove that their claimed damages were
proximately caused by the accident. See Dunn v.
Cadiente, 516 N.E.2d 52, 55 (Ind. 1987) (“Just
because there is proof that some of the claimed
injury and loss was caused by the breach of duty does not
necessarily mean that all damages resulted from the
breach”); see also Daub v. Daub, 629 N.E.2d
873, 878 (Ind.Ct.App. 1994) (noting that when the issue of
cause is not within the understanding of a lay person,
testimony of an expert witness on the issue is necessary).
The question of proximate cause is one usually left for the
jury, see Rhodes v. Wright, 805 N.E.2d 382, 388
(Ind. 2004), hence, the reason even Plaintiffs' motion
acknowledges that the determination of the amount of
Plaintiffs' damages is one for the trier of fact.
foregoing reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment [DE 32] is GRANTED insofar as it establishes as a
matter of law that Defendants are liable for negligence
resulting in the motor vehicle accident, with damages left to
be determined. The Defendants' Motion to Supplement [DE
44] is DENIED.