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Leibson v. The TJX Co., Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

June 27, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court upon consideration of Defendant Stanley Access Technologies' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. # 33), filed on April 13, 2018. Plaintiff Lee Grossman Leibson responded on May 22, 2018. (Doc. # 36). Stanley Access replied on June 5, 2018. (Doc. # 43). For the reasons that follow, the Motion is granted.

         I. Background

         Leibson is an elderly woman who fell while exiting a Marshalls store in St. Petersburg, Florida, on June 3, 2016. (Doc. # 2 at ¶¶ 7, 8, 10). Leibson was struck by an automatic sliding door that was manufactured and installed by Stanley Access at the Marshalls. (Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10). As a result, Leibson fell and sustained injuries. (Id. at ¶ 10).

         Leibson then initiated this action in state court against Defendant The TJX Companies, Inc., the owner of the Marshalls store, for negligence. (Doc. # 1-1 at 4-10). Subsequently, Leibson filed an Amended Complaint adding a negligence claim against Stanley Access. (Doc. # 2). In the Amended Complaint, Leibson asserts Stanley Access violated its duties to test and inspect the door in question or its prototype, properly design the door,

to warn of dangers involved with the use of the door or its presence, to give adequate instructions related to the installation, maintenance and use of the door, or to use care to avoid misrepresentations regarding the door.

(Id. at ¶ 18). Furthermore, Leibson alleges Stanley Access had a duty to “use due care in installing” the door. (Id. at ¶ 19).

         Stanley Access removed the case to this Court on August 16, 2017, based on diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. # 1). The case proceeded through discovery. The parties mediated on February 1, 2018, but reached an impasse. (Doc. # 26).

         In support of her claim that Stanley Access was negligent, Leibson retained an engineering expert, Dr. Srinivas Kadiyala. (Doc. # 36 at 9-28; Kadiyala Dep. Doc. # 34). On April 13, 2018, Stanley Access moved to exclude Dr. Kadiyala's testimony to the extent he sought to opine on Stanley Access's alleged failure to warn. (Doc. # 31). After Leibson failed to respond, the Court granted that motion as unopposed on May 21, 2018, thereby excluding Dr. Kadiyala's opinions on product warnings. (Doc. # 35).

         Stanley Access moved for partial summary judgment on April 13, 2018. (Doc. # 33). Specifically, Stanley Access argues that summary judgment should be granted on the negligence claim to the extent it relies on the duties to test and inspect the door; to properly design the door; to warn; to avoid misrepresentations about the door; and to use due care in installation. (Id. at 2). Stanley Access does not move for summary judgment on the claim that it violated its duty to provide instructions on installation and maintenance. Leibson responded to the Motion on May 22, 2018, (Doc. # 36), and Stanley Access has replied. (Doc. # 43). The Motion is ripe for review.

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary Judgment is appropriate “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 factual dispute alone is not enough to defeat a properly pled motion for summary judgment; only the existence of a genuine issue of material fact will preclude a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ., 93 F.3d 739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996)(citing Hairston v. Gainesville Sun Publ'g Co., 9 F.3d 913, 918 (11th Cir. 1993)). A fact is material if it may affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Allen v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 121 F.3d 642, 646 (11th Cir. 1997). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing the court, by reference to materials on file, that there are no genuine issues of material fact that should be decided at trial. Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1260 (11th Cir. 2004)(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). “When a moving party has discharged its burden, the non-moving party must then ‘go beyond the pleadings,' and by its own affidavits, or by ‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64 F.3d 590, 593-94 (11th Cir. 1995)(quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).

         If there is a conflict between the parties' allegations or evidence, the non-moving party's evidence is presumed to be true and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in the non-moving party's favor. Shotz v. City of Plantation, 344 F.3d 1161, 1164 (11th Cir. 2003). If a reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence could draw more than one inference from the facts, and if that inference introduces a genuine issue of material fact, the court should not grant summary judgment. Samples ex rel. Samples v. City of Atlanta, 846 F.2d 1328, 1330 (11th Cir. 1988). But, if the non-movant's response consists of nothing “more than a repetition of his conclusional allegations, ” summary judgment is not only proper, but required. Morris v. Ross, 663 F.2d 1032, 1034 (11th Cir. 1981).

         III. ...

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