United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
RICHARD W. STORY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages and Direct Negligence
Claims . After reviewing the record, the Court enters the
case arises out of a collision on June 6, 2014, between
Defendant Dexter Nickerson (“Defendant
Nickerson”) and Plaintiff Josephine Amoateng
(“Plaintiff Amoateng”). (Defs.' LR 56.1
Statement of Undisputed Material Facts (“Defs.'
SUMF”), Dkt. [48-9] ¶ 1.) At the time, Defendant
Nickerson was driving a tractor-trailer as the employee of
Defendant Buel, Inc. (“Defendant Buel”).
(Id. ¶ 2.) Defendant Buel is a named insured
under a policy covering the vehicle at issue with Defendant
Cherokee Insurance Company. (Id. ¶ 8.)
6, 2014, the tractor-trailer driven by Defendant Nickerson
overturned and collided with a vehicle driven by Plaintiff
Amoateng. (Answer, Dkt.  ¶ 14.) As a result,
Defendant Nickerson was cited for unsecured load. (Defs.'
SUMF, Dkt. [48-9] ¶ 11.)
April 4, 2016, Plaintiff Amoateng filed this suit seeking to
recover for her resulting injuries. She has brought claims
for negligence against Defendant Nickerson (Count I), for
respondeat superior against Defendant Buel (Count II), for
negligence against Defendant Buel (Count III), and punitive
damages (Count IV). Plaintiff Ehui Amonin, her husband, has
also brought a claim for loss of consortium (Count V).
Together they bring a claim against Defendant Cherokee
Insurance Company (Count VI). On August 16, 2017, Defendants
filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages
and Direct Negligence , which the court will now address.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 requires that 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.” “The moving party
bears ‘the initial responsibility of informing the . .
. court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those
portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact.'” Hickson
Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259 (11th Cir.
2004) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986)). Where the moving party makes such a
showing, the burden shifts to the non-movant, who must go
beyond the pleadings and present affirmative evidence to show
that a genuine issue of material fact does exist.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 257
applicable substantive law identifies which facts are
material. Id. at 248. A fact is not material if a
dispute over that fact will not affect the outcome of the
suit under the governing law. Id. An issue is
genuine when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id.
“the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, 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). No genuine issue of
material fact exists “since a complete failure of proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Id. at 323. Thus, if a party who has the burden of
proof fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of any essential element to a claim, summary
judgment may be properly granted against him.
in resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court must
view all evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. Patton v.
Triad Guar. Ins. Corp., 277 F.3d 1294, 1296 (11th Cir.
2002). But, the court is bound only to draw those inferences
that are reasonable. “Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th
Cir. 1997) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). “If the
evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations
omitted); see also Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586 (once
the moving party has met its burden under Rule 56(a), the
nonmoving party “must do more than simply show there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”).
seek summary judgment on Plaintiffs' claims for punitive
damages against Defendants (Count IV) and direct negligence
against Defendant Buel (Count III). They first argue that
Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden as to a claim for
punitive damages. As a result, they argue, the claims for
direct negligence against Defendant Buel must also be
dismissed since Defendant ...