United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc, 17.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion
is GRANTED. As a result, Plaintiff's
complaint is DIMISSSED. (Doc. 1, Ex. A.) The
Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to close this
case arises from an incident in which a customer at a local
Publix tripped and fell over a scale located near the
store's entryway. On or about January 21, 2015, Plaintiff
Sonya Diamond was shopping at Defendant's grocery store
located on 5500 Abercorn Street, Suite #2, Savannah, Georgia,
31405. (Doc. 1, Ex. A ¶ 5.) After Plaintiff paid for her
groceries, one of Defendant's employees took
Plaintiff's groceries and shopping cart and began walking
with . Plaintiff to her vehicle. (Doc. 17, Attach. 1 at
56-57.) Because of the brightness of the sun, Plaintiff
removed her bifocal lenses and began to look for her
sunglasses in her purse as she walked behind the employee.
(Id. at 58.) As Plaintiff continued to follow the
employee out of the store, Plaintiff tripped and fell forward
over a scale located near the store's exit.
(Id.) Plaintiff later testified that while she did
not see the scale when she tripped over it, nothing
interfered with her ability to see in front of her.
(Id. at 57.)
her injury, Plaintiff had previously shopped at the same
Publix at least once a week since the store's opening.
(Id. at 54.) Plaintiff was aware from these previous
shopping trips of the scale and its location. (Id.
at 79.) She testified that she typically passed the scale on
her normal path to enter and exit the store. (Id.)
Plaintiff even admitted to previously using the scale.
(Id. at 59.)
initially brought suit in the State Court of Chatham County
seeking relief for her injuries caused by the fall. On
February 17, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court
based on diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 1.) Defendant is now
seeking summary judgment. (Doc. 17.) In its motion, Defendant
claims that there is no genuine dispute of material fact in
this case that would allow Plaintiff to prevail on her
premise liability claim. Specifically, Defendant argues that
Plaintiff's claim must fail because the scale was open
and obvious, and, alternatively, Plaintiff failed to act with
reasonable care in avoiding the scale. Plaintiff has
responded by arguing that certain conditions on the day of
the incident inhibited her view of the scale, negating any
claim that the scale was open and obvious, and that she did
act with reasonable care.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), "[a] party may
move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or
defense-or the part of each claim of defense-on which summary
judgment is sought." Such a motion must 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." Id. 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 Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee notes).
judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "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).
The substantive law governing the action determines whether
an element is essential. DeLong Equip. Co. v.
Wash. Mills Abrasive Co., 887 F.2d 1499, 1505 (11th Cir.
1989). As the Supreme Court explained:
[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its imotion, 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.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The burden then shifts to
the nonmovant to establish, by going beyond the pleadings,
that there is a genuine issue as to facts material to the
nonmovant's case. Clark v. Coats & Clark,
Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) .
Court must review the evidence and all reasonable factual
inferences arising from it in the light most favorable to the
nonmovant. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587-88. However,
the nonmoving party "must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts." Id. at 586. A mere
"scintilla" of evidence, or simply conclusory
allegations, will not suffice. See, e.g.,
Tidwell v. Carter Prods., 135 F.3d 1422, 1425 (11th
Cir. 1998). Nevertheless, where a reasonable fact finder may
"draw more than one inference from the facts,
and that inference creates a genuine issue of material fact,
then the Court should refuse to grant summary judgment."
Barfield v. Brierton, 883 F.2d 923, 933-34 (11th