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Hampton v. Scott's Finishing Touch, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 13, 2017



          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Scott's Finishing Touch, Inc.'s (“Scott's”) Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 34.] Plaintiff Victoria Hampton, proceeding pro se, [1]brought this negligence action alleging that Scott's mistakenly used a product called Wheel Magic, which contained lye, to clean the inside of her vehicle. [Filing No. 10.] Ms. Hampton alleges that her exposure to Wheel Magic caused her permanent respiratory injury. [Filing No. 10 at 4.] Scott's seeks summary judgment on Ms. Hampton's Amended Complaint, arguing that Ms. Hampton failed to file her lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations. [Filing No. 34.] For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Scott's Motion.


         Legal Standard

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not suffice to defeat summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable factfinder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).



         The following factual background is set forth pursuant to the standards detailed above. The facts stated are not necessarily objectively true, but as the summary judgment standard requires, the undisputed facts and the disputed evidence are presented in the light most favorable to “the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.” Premcor USA, Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., 400 F.3d 523, 526-27 (7th Cir. 2005).

         A. Ms. Hampton's Reaction & Doctor's Visit

         Ms. Hampton's lawsuit arises out of an October 2014 appointment with Scott's to have her car detailed. [Filing No. 35-3 at 6.] Following the appointment, on October 21, 2014, Ms. Hampton visited MedCheck Castleton, complaining that “last week she had her[] car[] detailed [and] experienced allergic response on the ride home.” [Filing No. 35-3 at 6.] Also on October 21, 2014, Linda Woods, RT, noted that Ms. Hampton had an “[a]llergic reaction to car being detailed, ” which “[h]appened one week ago.” [Filing No. 35-3 at 7.]

         B. Procedural History

         On October 19, 2016, Ms. Hampton, then represented by counsel, filed her Complaint against Scott's.[2][Filing No. 1.] On October 28, 2016, Ms. Hampton filed her currently-operative Amended Complaint, alleging that Scott's used Wheel Magic, a cleaner made for exterior use only, on the inside of her car. [Filing No. 10.] Ms. Hampton ...

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