Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kline v. Gemini Transport, LLC

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

June 22, 2018

MATTHEW KLINE and MARK KLINE, Individually and on behalf of minor HAYDEN KLINE, Plaintiffs,
v.
GEMINI TRANSPORT, LLC, AMARILDO ZERE, FEDEX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEM, INCORPORATED, and DELBERT E. LALLATHIN, JR., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 by Defendants FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx”) and Delbert E. Lallathin, Jr. (“Lallathin”) (collectively, “Defendants”) (Filing No. 78). Following a multi-vehicle car accident during a winter storm, Plaintiffs Matthew Kline and Mark Kline, individually and on behalf of his minor daughter Hayden Kline, (collectively, “Klines” or “Plaintiffs”) filed this negligence action against the Defendants as well as co-defendants Gemini Transport, LLC (“Gemini”) and Amarildo Zere (“Zere”). The Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that the evidence shows they did not breach a duty to the Klines and did not cause the Klines' injuries or damages. Also before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Reply in Support of F edEx Ground Package System, Inc.'s and Delbert E. Lallathin, Jr.'s Motion for Summary Judgment, (Filing No. 93), and Motion for Hearing on Motion for Summary Judgment, (Filing No. 106). For the following reasons, the Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment and denies the remaining motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are not necessarily objectively true, but as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the facts are presented in the light most favorable to the Klines as the non-moving party. See Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).

         On February 14, 2015, Matthew Kline was driving southbound on Interstate 69 near Washington Township, Indianapolis, Indiana, with Mark Kline and Hayden Kline as passengers. Lallathin also was driving southbound on Interstate 69 in this same area, driving a FedEx tractor-trailer. Zere was driving a Gemini tractor-trailer in the same area, also heading southbound on Interstate 69 (Filing No. 1 at 2-4).

         Lallathin was driving a tandem FedEx tractor-trailer. Although he had not previously encountered visibility issues while driving that day, Lallathin testified there was a sudden loss of visibility, which he referred to as a whiteout (Filing No. 79-4 at 10-11). The wind was blowing snow drifts, which reduced visibility, and the roads were slick (Filing No. 79-5 at 5-6; Filing No. 90-2 at 5). Lallathin emerged from the blinding whiteout condition in the road to see a tractor-trailer stopped in the roadway in front of him (Filing No. 79-4 at 7-9, 12). There were twenty-eight vehicles involved in an accident at this location (Filing No. 79-5 at 4).

         Lallathin put on his flashing hazard lights and slowed his FedEx truck (Filing No. 79-4 at 10). He moved into the left lane in an attempt to avoid a collision. As he moved to the left, the rear trailer on his tandem tractor-trailer jackknifed, and his rear trailer struck another tractor-trailer stopped in the road. Lallathin did not strike any object with his tractor-trailer other than his rear trailer striking the stationary tractor-trailer. Id. at 8-9, 12-13. Lallathin's truck came to a stop in the left lane and median of the highway (Filing No. 79-5 at 5, 7; Filing No. 90-2 at 7).

         Soon thereafter, Zere approached the scene of the multi-vehicle accident while driving his Gemini tractor-trailer. He also was dealing with reduced visibility because of the whiteout conditions. He was able to see for a second and then the next second he was unable to see anything. Once he could see again, he was able to see only one to two truck lengths ahead of him. Zere's truck was traveling in the right lane when it emerged from the whiteout conditions. When the whiteout cleared, Zere saw many vehicles involved in an accident stopped in front of him (Filing No. 79-5 at 5-7). Zere made a last second veer to the left in order for the right side of his tractor to absorb the impact of the collision. Zere made this maneuver also to prevent his tractor from crashing into two cars that had collided with the FedEx truck (Filing No. 90-3 at 3, 5). Lallathin's FedEx truck was to the left of Zere's truck when Zere veered to the left and collided with another truck (Filing No. 79-5 at 7).

         When Zere's truck collided with another stopped truck (not Lallathin's FedEx truck), this collision caused Zere's truck to slide to the right and collide with the Klines' vehicle, which was forced off the roadway and into a ditch (Filing No. 79-5 at 7-8; Filing No. 90-5 at 3; Filing No. 1 at 2-4). The Klines sustained multiple injuries to their face, neck, head, and back (Filing No. 1 at 2). Zere did not collide with Lallathin's FedEx truck. The FedEx truck did not come into contact with either Zere's Gemini truck or the Klines' vehicle (Filing No. 79-5 at 7-8; Filing No. 79-4 at 7-9). Zere acknowledged that Lallathin and the FedEx truck did not cause him to do, or not do, anything as he approached the accident scene. Zere simply was reacting to a large group of vehicles (Filing No. 79-5 at 10).

         Matthew Kline acknowledged that he knows of no basis to say that Lallathin's FedEx truck caused or contributed to their accident (Filing No. 79-6 at 4). Matthew Kline could not recall seeing Lallathin's FedEx truck before the accident (Filing No. 90-5 at 3). Similarly, Mark Kline, who was a passenger in Matthew Kline's vehicle, acknowledged that he knows of no basis to say that Lallathin's FedEx truck caused or contributed to their accident, and he could not recall seeing the FedEx truck before the accident (Filing No. 79-7 at 3-5).

         On August 31, 2016, the Klines filed their Complaint against Zere, Gemini, Lallathin, and FedEx, asserting claims of negligence and vicarious liability and requesting compensatory and punitive damages (Filing No. 1). Following discovery, on November 29, 2017, Lallathin and FedEx filed their Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the evidence has revealed that Lallathin and FedEx did not cause the Klines' injuries and they did not breach any duty to the Klines (Filing No. 78).

         II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         The purpose of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine need for trial.” Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that summary judgment is appropriate if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Hemsworth v. Quotesmith.com, Inc., 476 F.3d 487, 489-90 (7th Cir. 2007). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews “the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Zerante, 555 F.3d at 584 (citation omitted). “However, inferences that are supported by only speculation or conjecture will not defeat a summary judgment motion.” Dorsey v. Morgan Stanley, 507 F.3d 624, 627 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, “[a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial.” Hemsworth, 476 F.3d at 490 (citation omitted). “The opposing party cannot meet this burden with conclusory statements or speculation but only with appropriate citations to relevant admissible evidence.” Sink v. Knox County Hosp., 900 F.Supp. 1065, 1072 (S.D. Ind. 1995) (citations omitted).

         “In much the same way that a court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, nor is it permitted to conduct a paper trial on the merits of [the] claim.” Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001) (citations and quotation marks omitted). “[N]either the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties nor the existence of some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts is sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Chiaramonte v. Fashion Bed Grp., Inc., 129 F.3d 391, 395 (7th Cir. 1997) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Lallathin and FedEx argue that there are no facts to support a claim of negligence against them because the elements of breach and causation are lacking. They also have filed related motions, asking for leave to file a “supplemental reply” in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment and asking for oral argument on the Motion. The Court will first address the Motion for Summary Judgment and then turn to the related motions.

         A. Motion for Summary Judgment

         In order for the Klines' negligence claims against the Defendants to proceed, the Klines must present evidence supporting each of the elements of a claim for negligence: (1) a duty was owed to the plaintiff by the defendant; (2) the defendant breached that duty by allowing conduct that fell below the applicable standard of care; and (3) compensable injury proximately caused by the defendant's breach of duty. Goodwin v. Yeakle's Sports Bar & Grill, Inc., 62 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.