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Hollenquest-Woods v. Autozone

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

January 25, 2017

DINA HOLLENQUEST-WOODS, Plaintiff,
v.
AUTOZONE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 8) [1]

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is a tort case. Plaintiff Dina Hollenquest-Woods is suing defendant AutoZone for negligence when she tripped and fell over a snow-covered parking bumper.

         Before the Court is AutoZone's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         II. Background

         The material facts as gleaned from the parties' papers follow.

         On the morning of January 12, 2015, plaintiff testified that was ready to go to work but her car would not start. She informed her husband who drove her to an AutoZone to purchase a new battery. This was the first time plaintiff had ever been to the AutoZone. Plaintiff's husband parked at the front of the store.

         Several inches of snow had fallen overnight and it was still lightly snowing during the trip to AutoZone.

         Plaintiff testified that she exited the vehicle from the passenger side door and began walking toward an entrance. Her husband called to her to come to a different entrance. While walking towards her husband, plaintiff says she tripped and fell when her right foot encountered something hard. The object was a parking bumper located at the front of the parking space. See Exhibit A attached. The parking bumper was snow-covered. After her fall, plaintiff testified that she experienced pain in right foot and was unable to walk.

         Plaintiff's husband testified that he did not see his wife fall but he was told by a female employee that his wife had just tripped. Plaintiff's husband also testified that he did not see any parking bumpers because they were covered by snow. See Exhibit B attached.

         AutoZone's manager, Matthew Roark, testified that on January 12, 2015, the store opened 7:30 am. He also testified that he had arrived at the store at 6:00 am and he does not remember any snow coming down at the time of his arrival. Roark further testified that when he arrived at the store the parking lot was covered with snow but could not recall if the parking bumpers were covered by snow. Roark also testified that when plaintiff fell, the parking lot was covered with snow and had not yet been cleared. However, the sidewalks around the entrance to store had been cleared.

         Wendy Thomas, another employee of AutoZone, testified that she spoke to plaintiff's husband who was very angry as he described that his wife fell because the parking bumper was covered with snow and not visible.

         Plaintiff's sustained a a closed right trimalleolar fracture dislocation of the right ankle. Plaintiff required open reduction internal fixation surgery which involved a hospital stay and then rehabilitation at a nursing home and then home care therapy. Plaintiff was unable to work from the January 12, 2015 until ...


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