United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF Nos. 24, 27)
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court are Defendants' motions for summary judgment.
The court heard oral argument on October 28, 2019, and took
the matter under advisement. For the reasons explained below,
Defendants' motions are denied.
Jennifer Hanford slipped and fell at a J.C. Penney store in
Ann Arbor, Michigan. Hanford worked for U.S. Vision, an
optical store located within J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney
contracts with Defendant Diversified Maintenance Systems
(“Diversified”) for janitorial services.
February 9, 2015, sometime between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.,
Hanford was walking with Nicole Fitzgerald to the breakroom,
in an employee-only area of the store. As Hanford walked down
the hall to the breakroom, she did not observe water on the
floor, a wet floor sign, or any cleaning supplies. She
purchased a candy bar in the breakroom and then began walking
down the same hallway in the opposite direction. Hanford
slipped and fell forward, landing on her wrist and stomach.
She then rolled over and sat on the floor. She did not see
any water on the floor, but noticed “moisture” on
the sole of her shoe and that her rear end was wet. Neither
her hands nor the front of her clothing were wet. Hanford
injured her ankle and broke her wrist as a result of her
declaration, Nicole Fitzgerald stated that when Hanford fell,
the “floor was definitely damp like it had just been
mopped.” ECF No. 29-5. She also stated that, later that
day, “I recall talking to an older African-American
male who was one of the custodians. He was an elderly man and
had curly black hair. He asked if Jennifer was okay. He said
he hoped she didn't fall because he was cleaning and
hoped she was okay.” Id.
one week after Hanford's fall, her boyfriend, Mark
O'Bryan, was waiting for Hanford to get off work. He ran
into Darryl Richardson, a Diversified employee, in the
restroom. According to O'Bryan, Richardson said that he
was “sorry about Jennifer, I forgot to leave the wet
floor sign out, I just mopped the floors basically in them
areas.” ECF No. 29, Ex. 2 at 24. O'Bryan, who had
also worked for Diversified, testified that Richardson often
slept on the job, then clocked out and finished his tasks.
complaint alleges claims of negligence and premises liability
against J.C. Penney and Diversified. Defendants seek summary
judgment in their favor.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In reviewing a motion for summary
judgment, the court must 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.'” Amway
Dist. Benefits Ass'n v. Northfield Ins. Co., 323
F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986)). The
facts and any reasonable inferences drawn from the facts must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In response to a
properly supported motion for summary judgment, the opposing
party must come forward with specific evidence showing there
is a genuine issue of fact for trial. A “mere
scintilla” of evidence is insufficient to meet this
burden; the evidence must be such that a reasonable jury
could find in favor of the nonmoving party.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
law governs Plaintiff's negligence/premises liability
claims in this diversity case. See Chandler v. Specialty
Tires of Am. (Tenn.) Inc., 283 F.3d 818, 823 (6th Cir.
2002). To establish a prima facie case of negligence, a
plaintiff must establish that (1) the defendant owed the
plaintiff a duty; (2) defendant breached its duty; (3)
causation; and (4) damages. Case v. Consumers Power
Co., 463 Mich. 1, 6 (2000). The common law
“imposes on every person engaged in the prosecution of
any undertaking an obligation to use due care, or to so
govern his actions as not to unreasonably endanger the person
or property of others.” Riddle v. McLouth Steel
Prods. Corp., 440 Mich. 85, 95 (1992) (citation
respect to premises liability, “[i]t is well settled in
Michigan that a premises owner must maintain his property in
a reasonably safe condition and has a duty to exercise due
care to protect invitees from conditions that might result in
injury.” Id. at 90. See also Stitt v.
Holland Abundant LifeFellowship, 462 Mich.
591, 596-97 (2000). As an employee working within its store,
Hanford was an invitee of J.C. Penney. See Id.