Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

O'Kulich v. National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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

September 3, 2019

DONNA O'KULICH, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION, d/b/a AMTRAK, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 13)

          AVERN COHN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is a tort case. Plaintiff Donna O'Kulich is suing defendant National Railroad Passenger Corporation d/b/a Amtrak (Amtrak) for negligence arising out of her fall on an Amtrak passenger car.

         Before the Court is Amtrak's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the danger was open and obvious. As will be explained, a threshold issue is whether plaintiff's complaint sounds in ordinary negligence or premises liability. It matters because the open and obvious doctrine applies in premises liability cases, not ordinary negligence cases. After consideration, the case sounds in ordinary negligence case. So treated, Amtrack's motion must be denied.

         II. Background

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

         On March 23, 2018, plaintiff, who is handicapped and always boards in handicapped accessible seating, boarded an Amtrak train to Chicago. Plaintiff boarded the train with assistance, moved to the second car and saw pieces of paper on the floor marked “Disability Seating.” Apparently, the papers were temporary signs placed by Amtrak employees in either the grooves of the luggage rack above the seats or on the seats themselves to indicate seating for the disabled. (Hereafter the papers will be referred to as “disability signs”).

         Plaintiff asked the conductor if she could sit in the handicapped area with the disability signs on the floor. The conductor said yes and moved on, without picking them up. Plaintiff says that when the conductor later approached her to get her ticket, she got up from her seat to retrieve it from her suitcase. After retrieving her ticket, the train jolted and plaintiff placed her right foot behind her to steady herself. In so doing, she stepped on one of the disability signs on the floor and fell, suffering injuries which required surgery.

         III. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving party demonstrates 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). There is no genuine issue of material fact when “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 Court must decide “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a [trier of fact] or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” In re Dollar Corp., 25 F.3d 1320, 1323 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). In so doing, the Court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Employers Ins. of Wausau v. Petroleum Specialties, Inc., 69 F.3d 98, 101 (6th Cir. 1995).

         IV. Analysis

         A. Ordinary Negligence

         To establish a prima facie case of negligence, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) a duty owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.