United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
the Court are Defendant Link-Belt Construction Equipment
Company's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 60],
Estate Plaintiff Victoria Jeffords's Rule 56 Motion to
Strike Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to the
Plaintiff's Notice of Non-Opposition [ECF No. 80], and
Defendants BP Corporation North America Inc., and MC
Industrial (“MCI”), Inc.'s Motion for Leave
to File Nonparty Affirmative Defense [ECF No. 83]. The
parties have informed the Court that the pending Motions are
ripe for ruling.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY OF THIS CASE
4, 2013, Donald Jeffords was injured while “performing
his work duties on a Link-Belt Crane” at the BP site in
Whiting, Indiana. (Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 6.) Mr. Jeffords
died on October 31, 2015, before his deposition was taken or
his testimony could be preserved. (See Jeffords
Obituary 4, ECF No. 61-1.) Victoria Jeffords, the Estate
Plaintiff, filed this lawsuit in the Lake Circuit Court on
December 22, 2014 [ECF No. 6], alleging state law claims for
negligence against the Defendants. The claims presented a
theory of premises liability as to Defendants BP, MCI, and
Fluor Constructors (id. ¶¶ 7-11), and a
theory of products liability as to Defendant Link-Belt
(id. ¶¶ 12-17). On February 12, 2015, the
case was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1441 and 1446, based upon the diversity of the
parties' citizenship and the amount in controversy.
[See ECF No. 1.]
Defendants filed two separate Motions for Summary
Judgment-one by Defendants BP and MCI, the other by Defendant
Link-Belt-on the grounds that the Estate Plaintiff had
proffered no evidence that the Defendants proximately caused
Mr. Jeffords's injuries. On August 22, 2016, the Estate
Plaintiff moved for an Extension of Time to File a
Response/Reply to Defendants BP and MCI's Motion [ECF No.
64], but did not seek an extension of time to file a response
as to the other Motion. Instead, the Estate Plaintiff filed a
Notice of Agreement of Non-Opposition to Defendant
Link-Belt's Motion [ECF No. 78] on November 22, 2016, and
attached Email Correspondence [ECF No. 78-1] with Defendant
Link-Belt's attorney in which they stated:
Plaintiff will not challenge Link-Belt's pending Motion
for Summary Judgment by foregoing the filing of a response,
and Link-Belt will forego any claim for attorney fees and
costs. In order to accomplish this agreement, Plaintiff will
simply not file a response, and Link-Belt will simply file a
short reply requesting entry of summary judgment due to the
lack of a filed response . . . .
(Email 1, ECF No. 78-1.) This Notice of Non-Opposition led
Defendants BP and MCI to file a Memorandum of Law in
Opposition to the Plaintiff's Notice of Non-Opposition
[ECF No. 79], on December 2, 2016. In their Memorandum, they
argued that if summary judgment was entered in favor of
Defendant Link-Belt, then the Court would also be required to
enter summary judgment in their favor. In the event that the
Court voluntarily dismissed Defendant-Link Belt alone, they
moved in the alternative for leave to file a non-party
affirmative defense as to Defendant Link-Belt.
December 9, 2016, the Estate Plaintiff filed a Rule 56 Motion
to Strike Defendants BP and MCI's Memorandum [ECF No.
80]. She argued that they had no standing to oppose Defendant
Link-Belt's attempts to exit the case on summary
judgment, that their Memorandum was untimely filed, and that
their request for alternative relief violated the Northern
District of Indiana Local Rules. Defendants BP and MCI's
Opposition to the Plaintiff's Rule 56 Motion [ECF No. 84]
was filed on December 20, 2016, and the Estate
Plaintiff's Reply [ECF No. 85] was entered on December
23, 2016. Also on December 20, 2016, Defendants BP and MCI
moved for leave to file a non-party affirmative defense. [ECF
No. 83.] The Estate Plaintiff's Response to the
Defendant's Motion for Leave to File [ECF No. 86] was
entered on December 23, 2016. Finally, in a telephonic
conference held on January 25, 2017, the parties informed
this Court that briefing was completed on all the
aforementioned pending Motions.
judgment is warranted when “the movant shows 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). Summary judgment is the moment in
litigation where the nonmoving party is required to marshal
and present the court with evidence on which a reasonable
jury could rely to find in that party's favor.
Goodman v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, Inc., 621 F.3d
651, 654 (7th Cir. 2010). A court should only deny a motion
for summary judgment when the nonmoving party presents
admissible evidence that creates a genuine issue of material
fact. Luster v. Ill. Dep't of Corrs., 652 F.3d
726, 731 (7th Cir. 2011) (first citing United States v.
5443 Suffield Terrace, 607 F.3d 504, 510 (7th Cir.
2010); then citing Swearnigen-El v. Cook Cty.
Sheriff's Dep't, 602 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir.
2010)). A court's role in deciding a motion for summary
judgment “is not to sift through the evidence,
pondering the nuances and inconsistencies, and decide whom to
believe. [A] court has one task and one task only: to decide,
based on the evidence of record, whether there is any
material dispute of fact that requires a trial.”
Waldridge v. Am. Heochst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920
(7th Cir. 1994). Material facts are those that are outcome
determinative under the applicable law. Smith v.
Severn, 129 F.3d 419, 427 (7th Cir. 1997). Although a
bare contention that an issue of material fact exists is
insufficient to create a factual dispute, a court must
construe all facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, view all reasonable inferences in that party's
favor, see Bellaver v. Quanex Corp., 200 F.3d 485,
491-92 (7th Cir. 2000), and avoid “the temptation to
decide which party's version of the facts is more likely
true, ” Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770
(7th Cir. 2003).
Court has diversity jurisdiction over this suit because the
parties are completely diverse. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The
Estate Plaintiff is a citizen of Indiana, Defendant BP is
incorporated in Maryland and has its principal place of
business in Illinois, Defendant MCI is incorporated in
Missouri and has its principal place of business there as
well, Defendant Fluor Constructors is incorporated in
California and has its principal place of business in Texas,
and Defendant Link-Belt and its partners are all formed under
the laws of Delaware with their principal place of business
in Kentucky. (Notice of Removal 1-2, ECF No. 1.) The
injuries suffered in this case exceed the amount in
controversy threshold of $75, 000. The matter was properly
removed from state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1441 & 1446.
their Notices to the Court, the Estate Plaintiff and
Defendant Link-Belt seek the entry of summary judgment in
favor of Defendant Link-Belt effectively because
“Link-Belt's Motion for Summary Judgment is
unopposed.” (Def.'s Notice of Non-Opp'n to
Def.'s Mot. Summ J. 2, ECF No. 77; see also
Pl.'s Notice of Non-Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J.
¶ 5, ECF No. 78.) In addition, the Estate Plaintiff and
Defendant Link-Belt “did not anticipate any factual
findings being entered by the Court as the lack of response
by the Plaintiff would subject Link-Belt's Motion for
Summary Judgment to summary ...