The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, District Judge.
Plaintiff has filed this action against Heckinger Stores
Company*fn1 and MTD Products, Inc., stating four claims: two
claims of negligence, one claim of "strict liability" and one
claim for breach of warranty. Presently before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that
follow, the motion is granted.
The facts of the case are simple. Plaintiff, Joseph Frazier,
tripped on an unidentified object while mowing his lawn with a
walk-behind lawn mower on May 12, 1996. At the time that he
tripped, Plaintiff was pulling back on the mower. He held on to
the mower as he fell, continuing to grasp the blade control
handles. During his fall, Plaintiff's left foot passed under the
mower, causing the mower blade to sever his big toe. Plaintiff
then brought this action against Defendants.
After the suit was filed, Plaintiff's lawn mower disappeared.
The mower had been held in a storage locker in the office
building of Plaintiff's counsel for approximately two years.
Plaintiff's Memorandum states that "[s]ometime during the winter
months of 1998 the lawn mower was stolen from Plaintiff's
counsel's storage area." Plaintiff's Response to Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment at II.C. However, Plaintiff's counsel
tells a different story in a letter to Defendants' counsel. The
[S]ometime in approximately March of 1998 the
ownership of this building decided to convert the
above mentioned storage areas to useable office
space. All the tenants were advised to remove all of
their property from the storage area. Sometime in the
spring of 1998 I personally went back to the storage
room assigned to my law firm. When I went in there
the lawn mower was gone.
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Ex. I. Thus, it appears
from this letter that the mower was not stolen, but rather
removed by building management after first notifying Plaintiff's
Summary judgment is appropriate where the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, reveal no genuine issue of material
fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Our responsibility
is not to resolve disputed issues of fact, but to determine
whether any factual issues exist to be tried. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-49, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The presence of "a mere scintilla of
evidence" in the nonmovant's favor will not avoid summary
judgment. Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458,
460 (3d Cir. 1989) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct.
2505). Rather, we will grant summary judgment unless "the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct.
In making this determination, all of the facts must be viewed
in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all
reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-moving
party. Id. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Once the moving party has
met the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the non-moving party must establish the
existence of each element of its case. J.F. Feeser, Inc. v.
Serv-A-Portion, Inc., 909 F.2d 1524, 1531 (3d Cir. 1990)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)).
II. FEDERAL PREEMPTION OF STATE LAW CLAIMS
Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claims, all of which are
state law claims, are preempted by the Consumer Products Safety
Act ("CPSA"), 15 U.S.C. § 2051 et seq. The CPSA, which has as
one of its stated purposes "to minimize conflicting State and
local regulations," 15 U.S.C. § 2051(b)(3), includes an explicit
preemption clause. The Act states:
Whenever a consumer product safety standard under
this Act is in effect and applies to a risk of injury
associated with a consumer product, no State or
political subdivision of a State shall have any
authority either to establish or to continue in
effect any provision of a safety standard or
regulation which prescribes any requirements as to
the performance, composition, contents, design,
finish, construction, packaging, or labeling of such
product which are designed to deal with the same risk