United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
DIANE KIMMEL, Plaintiff.
ZBIGNIEW PONTIAKOWSKI and SCHNEIDER NATIONAL CARRIERS, INC., Defendants.
JAMES M. MUNLEY, District Judge.
Before the court for disposition is Defendants Zbigniew Pontiakowski and Schneider National Carriers, Inc.'s (collectively "defendants") motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 49). This motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.
The instant personal injury action arose from a motor vehicle accident occurring on Interstate 81 in Luzerne County. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 2; Doc. 51-2, Kimmel Interrog. (hereinafter "Kimmel Interrog.") ¶ 2). On March 24, 2011, Plaintiff Diane Kimmel (hereinafter "plaintiff") drove north on Interstate 81. (Kimmel Interrog. ¶ 2(d)). While driving, plaintiff approached a Schneider National Carriers tractor trailer driven by Defendant Zbigniew Pontiakowski. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 9). As plaintiff reached the tractor trailer, pieces of ice broke off the top of the trailer and crashed into plaintiff's front windshield causing the windshield to shatter. (Id. ¶ 5). As a result of this accident, plaintiff avers that she suffered severe and permanent injuries and incurred medical expenses. (Id. ¶¶ 11-14, 21, 24).
Plaintiff filed the instant two-count negligence complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Count One asserts a negligence claim against Defendant Zbigniew Pontiakowski. (Doc. 1-4, Ex. A, Compl. ¶¶ 12-13). Count Two asserts a negligence claim against Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc. (Id. ¶¶ 14-16).
On April 22, 2013, defendants removed the case to the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal). Subsequent to removal, the case was transferred to the Middle District of Pennsylvania on September 6, 2013. (Doc. 19).
At the conclusion of discovery, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 30). Initially, the court denied defendants' motion without prejudice as untimely. (Doc. 40). Defendants then filed a motion for an extension of time (Doc. 42), which the court granted (Doc. 48), allowing defendants to file the instant motion for summary judgment (Doc. 49). The parties then briefed the issues bringing the case to its present posture.
The court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff Diane Kimmel is a citizen of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 7). Defendant Zbigniew Pontiakowski is a citizen of Delaware. (Id. ¶ 6). Defendant Schneider National Carriers, Inc. is incorporated under the laws of the State of Nevada with its principal place of business in Wisconsin. (Id. ¶ 5). Additionally, the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Because complete diversity of citizenship exists among the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the court has jurisdiction over this case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 ("district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between... citizens of different states[.]"); 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (A defendant can generally move a state court civil action to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction to address the matter pursuant to the diversity jurisdiction statute). As a federal court 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. Tomkins , 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).
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. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chem. 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 demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.
Defendants move for summary judgment on plaintiff's negligence claims asserting that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry plaintiff's burden of proof at trial. Plaintiff counters that she can state a prima facie ...