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Richardson v. Dial Corp.

February 23, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley


Before the court for disposition is the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant The Dial Corporation (hereinafter "defendant" or "Dial"). The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.


Defendant, The Dial Corporation, maintains a facility located in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, at which it manufactures personal care and laundry care products. Deliveries of bulk raw materials are made to this facility. One of the materials it receives is HDL-90 Surfonic, a chemical used as one of the main ingredients in laundry detergent. HDL-90 is the brand name of a chemical manufactured by Huntsman Petrochemical Corporation.

Huntsman has an agreement to provide HDL-90 to defendant. Huntsman contracts with Enterprise Transportation Company to deliver the chemical by tanker truck to defendant's West Hazleton facility from Huntsman's Houston, Texas facility. Enterprise employed Plaintiff John Richardson (hereinafter "plaintiff") as a tanker truck driver.

In the scope of his employment with Enterprise, plaintiff and a co-worker, Robert Hall, delivered a tanker truck of HDL-90 to the defendant's West Hazleton facility on March 2, 2002. The HDL-90 was transferred from the truck to defendant through a pipe that ran from the truck to the a pump located on defendant's facility. Upon disconnecting the pipe from the trailer steam was released that caused personal injury to the plaintiff. Subsequently, plaintiff instituted the instant action asserting that the injury was the result of the defendant's negligence. At the close of discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, bringing the case to its present posture.


This court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The plaintiffs are citizens of Texas, and the defendant is a Delaware business corporation with a principal place of business in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Doc. Def. Ans. and Aff. Defenses, ¶ 3). Because we are sitting in diversity, the substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to the instant case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).

Standard of review

Granting summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407, 410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (citing FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c)). "[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990). The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and designate specific facts by the use of affidavits, depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.


Defendant's motion raises three issues: 1) whether Dial owed any duty to the plaintiff; 2) whether Dial may be liable whether the facts demonstrate that the incident was not caused by any hidden, dangerous condition on defendant's premises; and 3) whether defendant may be liable where the facts show that the incident was caused by ...

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