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Taylor v. PetSmart, Inc.

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

January 12, 2018

Jeanne Taylor, Plaintiff,
v.
PetSmart, Inc., Defendant.

          Mona K. Majzoub United States Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [13]

          GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Jeanne Taylor initiated this action in state court on December 20, 2016. See Dkt. No. 1-1, p. 3 (Pg. ID 10). Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant PetSmart, Inc., alleging two claims: ordinary negligence (Count I) and premises liability (Count II). See Id. at pp. 4-6 (Pg. ID 11-13). The Defendant removed the case to this Court on January 17, 2017. See Dkt. No. 1.

         The Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on October 26, 2017, and this motion is fully briefed. See Dkt. No. 13. The Court held oral argument on the motion on Tuesday, January 8, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [13]. Ruling from the bench during oral argument on Defendant's motion, the Court GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [13]. The Court granted the motion on the ordinary negligence claim (Count I) and denied the motion on the premises liability claim (Count II).

         II. Background

         The Plaintiff is a resident of Livonia, Michigan, and Defendant PetSmart owns and operates a store in this city. Dkt. No. 1-1, pp. 3-4 (Pg. ID 10-11). On a cold, snowy winter day in January 2014, Plaintiff entered Defendant's store. Id. at pp. 4, 45 (Pg. ID 11, 136). While walking down an aisle, she “fell violently to the floor, ” after “slip[ing] on a clear liquid that could not be seen.” Id. at p. 4 (Pg. ID 11).

         In an incident report about Plaintiff's fall, PetSmart employee Karla Eakin wrote that “there was a strip of water on the floor” and this water “was immediately cleaned up.” Dkt. No. 17, p. 17-18 (Pg. ID 214-15). The record does not contain deposition testimony from Eakin.

         As to what caused the accident, Plaintiff testified “I have no idea. I slipped on something. I didn't see anything and I wasn't aware.” Dkt. No. 13, p. 45 (Pg. ID 136). She continued “my foot went out from under me like this, so there was something on the floor. I don't know what it was, if it was water or what, I'm not sure.” Id. Plaintiff did say, however, that her jacket was wet after she fell. Id.

         Other people in the store when Plaintiff fell testified about the incident. At the time of the accident, Brooke Bourdage was working in the store for a third-party vendor. Id. at p. 53 (Pg. ID 144). Bourdage testified that she witnessed Plaintiff's fall “out of the corner of [her] eye, ” and does not remember seeing water, or any other hazards, on the floor where Plaintiff fell. Id. at pp. 53-54 (Pg. ID 144-45). Ten or fifteen minutes after the accident Brittany Blaskay, a PetSmart employee, surveyed the aisle where Plaintiff fell. Id. at p. 65 (Pg. ID 156). In a deposition, Blaskay described the condition of the aisle, saying “I saw nothing on the floor. I didn't see any water, nothing.” Id.

         III. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] court shall grant summary judgment 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.” A court must view the facts, and draw reasonable inferences from the facts, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). No. genuine dispute of material fact exists where the record “taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus., Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The key 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, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

         IV. ...


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