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Kraese v. Qi

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

December 10, 2019

SHANNON KRAESE, Plaintiff,
v.
JIALIANG QI and GD TOUR INC., Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM T. MOORE, JR. JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant GD Tour Inc.'s ("GD Tour") Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Doc. 49.) In its brief in support of its motion, Defendant GD Tour contends that "Plaintiff has failed to present any evidence in support of her claims for negligent hiring, training, and supervision, and for punitive damages . . ." and, therefore, Defendant is entitled to partial summary judgment as to those claims.[1] (Id. at 2.) After careful consideration, Defendant GD Tour's motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a motor-vehicle accident in which a bus, driven by Defendant Jialiang Qi and owned by Defendant GD Tour, collided with the rear of another vehicle. (Id.) At the time of the accident, Defendant Qi was employed by Defendant GD Tour. (Id.) Plaintiff was a passenger on the bus and, as a result of the accident, suffered injuries. (Doc. 49, Attach. 1 at 1; Doc. 53 at 1.) Plaintiff brought suit in the State Court of Chatham County against Defendants Qi and GD Tour. (Doc. 1 at 1.) On September 7, 2017, Defendants invoked this Court's diversity jurisdiction and removed this case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Id.)

         Defendant GD Tour hired Defendant Qi in May 2016. (Doc. 49, Attach 5 at 2; Doc. 53 at 3.) Prior to applying with Defendant GD Tour, Defendant Qi worked for another commercial bus company for approximately 2-3 months. (Doc. 62 at 15.) Before hiring Defendant Qi, Defendant GD Tour required him to submit an employment application. (Id. at 19.) Along with his application, Defendant Qi was required to submit a copy of his commercial driver's license ("CDL"), drug test results, driving record, and medical card. (Doc. 49, Attach. 1 at 2.) Defendant GD Tour claims that Defendant Qi submitted all the required documentation, but Plaintiff asserts that the only documentation reviewed by Defendant GD Tour was Defendant Qi's CDL. (Doc. 49, Attach. 5 at 2; Doc. 54 at 2.)

         On his application, Defendant Qi noted that he had one traffic violation for speeding in 2015. (Doc. 49, Attach. 2 at 41; Doc. 53 at 3; Doc. 62 at 20.) In his deposition, Defendant Qi clarified that this citation was for going 38 miles per hour over the speed limit. (Doc. 62 at 21.) Defendant Qi also acknowledged that his driving history report listed another citation for speeding from 2015 for going 18 miles per hour over the speed limit. (Id. at 21.) Defendant Qi did not recall why the citation for 38 miles per hour over the speed limit was listed on his employment application but the citation for 18 miles per hour was not listed. (Id. at 23.) Defendant Qi stated that both citations occurred while he was driving his personal vehicle. (Id. at 22.) Defendant Qi also testified that he obtained a copy of his driving history report from the Department of Motor Vehicles and provided the report to GD Tour. (Id. at 23.) The parties agree that Defendant Qi's driving record does not list any accidents involving personal injuries or property damage. (Doc. 49, Attach. 5 at 3; Doc. 54 at 2.)

         After an applicant submits his application to Defendant GD Tour, its owner, Zhaojian Chen, makes the decision on whether to hire the applicant as a driver. (Doc. 64 at 12.) Mr. Chen cannot read English, (Id. at 5), therefore, an employee at Defendant GD Tour "does the paperwork" for Mr. Chen. (Id. at 10.) During the hiring process of Defendant Qi, this employee did not explain or translate the information on Defendant Qi's employment application to Mr. Chen. (Id. at 12.) Additionally, Mr. Chen was unaware of Defendant Qi's traffic citation noted on his employment application. (Id. at 12.) According to Mr. Chen, Defendant GD Tour did not "pull" a driving report for Defendant Qi nor investigate Defendant Qi's driving history prior to hiring him. (Id. at 13.)

         After being hired by Defendant GD Tour, Defendant Qi stated that the training he received involved him watching another GD Tour employee drive a bus. (Doc. 62 at 29.) According to Defendant QI, this training occurred at least twice prior to the accident at issue. (Id.) Defendant Qi also stated that, other than this training, Defendant GD Tour did not provide any other training to him. (Id. at 29-30.) In Mr. Chen's deposition, he testified that Defendant Qi drove the bus approximately 2-3 times with another driver observing him prior to the accident. (Doc. 64 at 10-11.) However, Mr. Chen confirmed that GD Tour did not provide any training to Defendant Q1. (Id. at 11.) Defendant GD Tour's statement of material facts indicates that Defendant Qi was required to pass a Road Test Examination prior to being offered employment with GD Tour and provides the Court with Defendant Qi's exam results (Doc. 49, Attach 2, Attach. 5), but Plaintiff denies that an examination was required(Doc. 54 at 3). Mr. Chen was unaware if Defendant Qi was involved in any other moving violations while operating a GD Tour bus prior to the accident at issue. (Doc. 64 at 13.) After the accident at issue, Defendant GD Tour did not terminate or punish Defendant Q1. (Doc. 62 at 24-25; Doc. 64 at 12-13.) Instead, Defendant Qi stopped working for Defendant GD Tour because of the injuries he sustained due to the accident. (Doc. 62 at 25.)

         Now, Defendant GD Tour moves for partial summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, as well as Plaintiff's claims for punitive damages. (Doc. 49, Attach. 1.) Plaintiff has responded in opposition to Defendant GD Tour's motion (Doc. 53) and Defendant GD Tour has replied to Plaintiff's response (Doc. 55). Defendant GD Tour's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 49) is ripe for review.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment shall be rendered "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). 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, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed. 2D 538 (1986) (citing Fed. R. Civ, P. 56 advisory committee notes) . Summary 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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 tilth 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 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.

Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2553. 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). The 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, 106 S.Ct. at 1356. However, the nonraoving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Id., 475 U.S. at 586, 106 S.Ct. at 1356. 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 ...


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