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Williams v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC

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

June 20, 2019

GEORGINA WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE OF FLORIDA, LLC, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [28]

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On July 2, 2018, Defendant Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC ("Outback") removed Plaintiff Georgina Williams's personal injury complaint from state court. ECF 10. On May 3, 2019, Outback filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF 28. The Court reviewed the briefs and finds that a hearing is unnecessary. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f). For the reasons below, the Court will grant Outback's motion for summary judgment.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 19, 2017, Plaintiff went to Outback's Southfield Restaurant with several family members. ECF 29, PgID 379. While being shown to her table, Plaintiff slipped and fell. Id. Plaintiff alleged that she fractured her right shoulder and sustained other injuries. ECF 10-1, PgID 57. The restaurant manager, Monica Smith, responded when Plaintiff fell. ECF 29, PgID 380. On April 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed her complaint, which included counts for (1) premises liability, (2) negligence, and (3) nuisance. See ECF 10-1, PgID 57-61.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper 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 fact is material for purposes of summary judgment if its resolution would establish or refute an "essential element[] of a cause of action or defense asserted by the parties[.]" Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir. 1984) (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 881 (6th ed. 1979)).

         The Court views the facts and "draw[s] all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Stiles ex rel. D.S. v. Grainger Cty., 819 F.3d 834, 848 (6th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). The Court must then determine "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). And although the Court may not make credibility judgments or weigh the evidence, Moran v. Al Basit LLC, 788 F.3d 201, 204 (6th Cir. 2015), a mere "scintilla" of evidence is insufficient to survive summary judgment; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff," Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Finally, "[e]vidence submitted in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must be admissible. Hearsay evidence . . . must be disregarded." Alpert v. United States, 481 F.3d 404, 409 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting U.S. Structures, Inc. v. J.P. Structures, Inc., 130 F.3d 1185, 1189 (6th Cir. 1997)).

         DISCUSSION

         The Court will analyze Plaintiff's state-law claims under Michigan law because when "federal jurisdiction is based on diversity . . . the substantive law of the forum state" governs. Conlin v. Mortg. Elec. Registration Sys., Inc., 714 F.3d 355, 358 (6th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted). The Court will address each of Plaintiff's theories of liability in turn.

         I. Premises Liability

         "A possessor of land is subject to liability for physical harm caused to his invitees by a condition on the land, if, but only if," the possessor (1) knew of, or through reasonable care would have discovered, the condition, and "should [have] realize[d] that it involve[d] an unreasonable risk of harm" to invitees; (2) should have anticipated that invitees would "not discover or realize the danger, or [would] fail to protect themselves against it;" and (3) failed to exercise reasonable care to protect invitees. Riddle v. McLouth Steel Prods. Corp., 440 Mich. 85, 93 (1992) (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343 (Am. Law Inst. 1965)). The notice element requires plaintiff to show that a defendant had actual or constructive notice of the condition. Lowrey v. LMPS & LMPJ, Inc., 500 Mich. 1, 10 (2016).

         A. Actual Notice.

         Actual notice requires a defendant to have knowledge of the condition. Plaintiff maintains that Outback had actual notice of the floor's condition. But Plaintiff's argument is flawed for several reasons. First, during her deposition, Plaintiff testified that Smith told her "yes [the floor] is very slippery." ECF 29-1, PgID 408-09. Plaintiff thus concludes that Outback had actual notice of the floor's condition. But Plaintiff's evidence is hearsay and "must be disregarded." Alpert, 481 F.3d at 409 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation and quotation omitted).

         Second, Smith testified that she did not know the floor was slippery. See ECF 29-8, PgID 492 (Smith's deposition indicating that she did not tell Plaintiff and her family that she saw that the floor was slippery); id. at 497 (Smith's deposition advising that, in ten years, she had never "personally heard any customers complain that the floors themselves were slippery"). Thus, Outback produced evidence demonstrating that it did not have actual notice of the floor's allegedly slippery condition. ...


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