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Campbell v. Speedway, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 21, 2016

MICHAEL CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
SPEEDWAY LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 18]

          LINDA V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Michael Campbell (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit in state court against Defendant Speedway LLC (“Defendant”) after Plaintiff tripped in the handicap parking area of Defendant's parking lot. Defendant removed the action to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction on July 6, 2015. (ECF No. 1.)

         In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts one count of premises liability against Defendant under state law and the Americans with Disabilities Act.[1] (Id.) Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion for summary judgment, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Finding the facts and legal arguments sufficiently presented in the parties' pleadings, the Court is dispensing with oral argument with respect to Defendant's motion pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court is granting in part and denying in part Defendant's motion. (ECF No. 18.)

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 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). The central inquiry is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). After adequate time for discovery and upon motion, Rule 56 mandates summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party bears the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         The movant has the initial burden of showing “the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 323. Once the movant meets this burden, the “nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). To demonstrate a genuine issue, the nonmoving party must present sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably find for that party; a “scintilla of evidence” is insufficient. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.

         “A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed” must designate specifically the materials in the record supporting the assertion, “including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations, admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The court must accept as true the non-movant's evidence and draw “all justifiable inferences” in the non-movant's favor. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255.

         II. Factual Background

         On March 18, 2014, at around 7:30 pm, Plaintiff arrived at Defendant's gas station located in Davison, Michigan. (ECF Nos. 20 at Pg ID 180; 18-2 at Pg ID 112.) Plaintiff's wife parked her vehicle in a handicap parking spot upon arrival while Plaintiff was located in the passenger seat. (ECF No. 18 at Pg ID 79, 89.) When Plaintiff exited the vehicle, he took one to two steps forward and “tripped and fell on at least [a] two-inch raised crack that was located in the handicap space.” (ECF No. 18-2 at Pg ID 113.) As a result, Plaintiff alleges that he suffers and will continue to suffer from multiple medical injuries, including hematoma on the brain; fracture at ¶ 4-C5; multiple stitches to his face; and scarring to the neck and head. (Id. at Pg ID 113-14.)

         Plaintiff tripped over “an uneven area of abutting concrete slabs.” (ECF No. 20 at Pg ID 188.) Defendant states that the difference in height between the two slabs is “far less than the claimed two inch height difference.” (ECF No. 18 at Pg ID 91.) While Plaintiff's complaint alleges the height difference was two inches (Id. at Pg ID 113), Plaintiff's response to Defendant's motion for summary judgment states the difference was “between an inch or two inches” (ECF No. 20 at Pg ID 205).

         Plaintiff does not recall anything blocking his vision when he exited from the vehicle. (ECF No. 18 at Pg ID 90.) However, it was dark when Plaintiff and his wife arrived to purchase a cup of coffee from Defendant. (ECF No. 20 at 189.)

         III. Defendant's Arguments and Plaintiff's Response

         In its motion for summary judgment, Defendant argues that it is not liable for Plaintiff's accident because the uneven concrete was an open and obvious danger. (ECF No. 18 at Pg ID 86.) Defendant contends that there are no special aspects of the condition that would remove this case from the open and obvious doctrine. (Id.) Defendant also argues that Plaintiff cannot make a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 28 CFR § 36.403, because the drafters did not intend for the statute to focus on safety standards for walkways and the statute does not provide for a cause of action for damages in tort or under any other theory. (Id.)

         Plaintiff contends in response that there is a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether the uneven pavement was an open and obvious danger. (ECF No. 20 at Pg ID 207.) Plaintiff also argues that he is able to satisfy the ...


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