United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
E. SELF, III, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Defendant Wal-Mart Stores East LP's Motion
for Summary Judgment [Doc. 28]. After reviewing the
parties' submissions, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 28].
judgment is appropriate “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). A dispute is genuine if the evidence
would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the
nonmovant and a fact is material if it “might affect
the outcome of the suit.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In considering
this motion, “the evidence of the [nonmovant] is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in
[the nonmovant's] favor.” Id. at 255.
However, the Court need not draw “all possible
inferences” in favor of the nonmovant. Horn v.
United Parcel Servs., Inc., 433 Fed.Appx. 788, 796 (11th
movant “bears the initial burden of informing the
district 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.” Jones v. UPS
Ground Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2012)
(internal quotation omitted) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The burden then
shifts to the nonmovant “to rebut that showing by
producing affidavits or other relevant and admissible
evidence beyond the pleadings.” Jones, 683
F.3d at 1292 (quoting Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence
Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1315 (11th Cir. 2012)).
The Court recounts the facts of this case below in light of
premises liability case arises out of an injury Plaintiff
Amanda Jones sustained when she tripped over a pallet while
she was picking up donated food items from Defendant's
facility. At the time of the injury, Plaintiff worked as a
truck driver for Middle Georgia Community Food Bank
(“Middle Georgia”). [Doc. 30-1 at 20:19-21]. In
this position, Plaintiff drove to a number of nearby
businesses-including Defendant's- to pick up donated
items for the food bank. [Id. at 44:8-10]. Plaintiff
held her position with Middle Georgia for three years prior
to the incident giving rise to her claim and during that time
picked up donations from Defendant's facility three days
a week. [Id. at 47:6-8; 50:1-2].
deposition taken on August 15, 2016, Plaintiff described at
length her routine for making a pick up at Defendant's
facility. See [id. at 47:12-59:25]. On
arrival, Plaintiff would back her truck up to the loading
dock and then enter the facility through a rear door into
Defendant's receiving area where products were delivered
and stored. [Id. at 47:9-16; 48:2-4]; see
also [Doc. 30-2 at 124:3-14]. Defendant usually donated
a substantial amount of food, so Plaintiff would find a
pallet jack to facilitate loading the donated goods onto her
truck. [Doc. 30-1 at 47:18-21; 52:9-12]. Once Plaintiff
procured her pallet jack, she would exit the receiving area
through a set of double doors into the public area of
Defendant's facility. [Id. at 48:8-10].
Plaintiff would then drag her pallet jack through the public
area of the store to another set of double doors leading to
the dry goods receiving area where Defendant placed its
donations at a designated spot. [Doc. 30-2 at 108:24-109:7];
see also [Doc. 30-1 at 49:1-3]. Plaintiff would then
load her pallet jack and return to the other receiving area
where she parked her truck. [Doc. 30-1 at 53:14-54:16].
Plaintiff testified that she often walked backward while
pulling the pallet jack because it made it easier to move.
[Doc. 30-2 at 114:6-14]. Plaintiff noted, though, that if she
was walking backward, she was constantly looking over her
shoulder to avoid bumping into customers or goods that may
have fallen from the shelves in the store. [Id. at
117:12-15; 119:5-17]. After returning to the receiving area,
Plaintiff would load her truck and return the pallet jack.
[Doc. 30-1 at 54:6-19].
day of the incident, Plaintiff followed her customary
practice for picking up donated goods at Defendant's
facility. [Doc. 30-2 at 113:15-18]. However, on this day,
Defendant placed a pallet with a box on it by the double
doors leading from Defendant's receiving area into the
public area of the store. [Doc. 30-2 at 142:13-19]. Plaintiff
admits that she walked by the pallet and that it was not
hidden for someone walking out of the receiving area into the
public area of Defendant's store but denies she actually
saw the pallet. [Doc. 30-2 at 142:13-19; 152:13-14;
injury occurred as she was re-entering the receiving area
with her loaded pallet jack when she tripped over the pallet
Defendant had placed by the double doors. [Doc. 30-2 at
142:13-19]. Plaintiff admits that when she arrived at the
double doors leading to the receiving area, she looked
through their windows to ensure that it was safe for her to
enter but again denied seeing the pallet that she tripped on.
[Id. at 180:1-6]. After looking through the window,
Plaintiff walked backward through the double doors pulling
the pallet jack with her. [Id. at 133:20-134:16].
Plaintiff testified that she did not see the pallet as she
walked through the doors because it was on her left side and
she was looking over her right shoulder as she entered the
receiving area. [Id.]. When the pallet jack was
about half way through the doorway, Plaintiff's heel hit
the pallet, causing her to fall. [Id. at 186:7-10;
result of her fall, Plaintiff incurred approximately $13, 000
in medical expenses as well as lost wages. [Doc. 1-3 at p.
2]. Plaintiff has received some compensation for these
damages as part of her worker's compensation settlement
and she now asserts claims against Defendant for allegedly
negligently placing the pallet next to the double doors.
[Doc. 30-2 at 96:4-7].
reviewing the parties' submissions, the Court finds that
Defendant is entitled to summary judgment. Under Georgia law,
[w]here an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied
invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises
for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such
persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise