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Balderas v. Target Corp.

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

August 2, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 31], filed November 1, 2018, and Defendant's Motion to Strike [DE 67], filed May 30, 2019.

         I. Procedural Background

         On June 23, 2017, Plaintiff's Complaint, initially filed in state court on May 3, 2017, was removed to this Court. It includes a single personal injury claim, alleging that Plaintiff slipped and was injured in a Target store as a result of Defendant's negligence.

         The instant motion for summary judgment was filed on November 1, 2018. After several extensions of time to allow for completion of discovery, Plaintiff filed a response on May 16, 2019. Defendant filed its reply on May 30, 2019, along with the instant motion to strike. On June 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed a response to the motion to strike and on June 20, 2019, Defendant filed a reply.

         The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that motions for summary judgment be granted “if 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). Rule 56 further requires the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery, against a party “who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “[S]ummary judgment is appropriate - in fact, is mandated - where there are no disputed issues of material fact and the movant must prevail as a matter of law. In other words, the record must reveal that no reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party.” Dempsey v. Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Ry. Co., 16 F.3d 832, 836 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations and quotations omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue of fact, the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” but must “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)).

         In viewing the facts presented on a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts in a light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all legitimate inferences in favor of that party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Srail v. Vill. of Lisle, 588 F.3d 940, 948 (7th Cir. 2009); NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-Am., Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995). A court's role is not to evaluate the weight of the evidence, to judge the credibility of witnesses, or to determine the truth of the matter, but instead to determine whether there is a genuine issue of triable fact. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         III. Undisputed Material Facts

         On March 18, 2016, Plaintiff slipped and fell at the Target store in Munster, Indiana. Plaintiff reported that he slipped on an unknown, slippery substance and injured his knee when he fell. He stated that it “looked like cake or some kind of dessert, or something, some like slippery substance on the floor.” Balderas Dep. 58:1-6 [DE 33]. The friend who was with him testified that he saw, immediately after Plaintiff fell, what “seemed like some type of dessert” on the floor where Plaintiff slipped. Gomez Dep. 14:12-20 [DE 33]. An employee, Devante Hillard-Lawhon, drafted a Team Member Witness Statement at 10:30 p.m. on March 18, 2016. He reported that he had been in the area before the incident, at around 10:17 p.m., and saw a “streak of clear, dried up substance. Looked like some type of food was in the substance.” Def. Ex. B [DE 65-3]. He also reported that when he arrived at the scene after the incident, he saw a “clear dry substance, seemed to be fruit or something wasted.” Target documents report that Plaintiff slipped at approximately 10:24 or 10:25 p.m., less than 10 minutes after Hillard-Lawhon stated that he had seen the substance on the floor. Target employees are trained to watch for hazardous conditions and debris on the premises and to address them.

         IV. Analysis

         A. Motion to Strike

         Defendant argues that portions of Plaintiff's designated evidence and the parts of the brief that rely on them should be stricken as inadmissible hearsay and unauthenticated exhibits. ...

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