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Hannon v. Lowe's Home Centers, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 17, 2017

MATTHEW HANNON, Plaintiff
v.
LOWE'S HOME CENTER, INC. d/b/a LOWE'S HOME IMPROVEMENT, LOWE'S HOME CENTER, Defendant / Third-Party Plaintiff
v.
WE DO THAT CONSTRUCTION, TODD ROMANCZUK, KITCHEN & FLOORING CONTRACTOR, INC., and JEROME SAYLOR, Third-Party Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          JAMES M. MUNLEY JUDGE

         Before the court for disposition is Defendant Lowe's Home Center, Inc.'s (hereinafter “Lowe's”) motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 63). For the reasons that follow, we will grant the motion.

         Background

         This matter arises out of a June 8, 2012 personal injury incident at Lowe's Home Center Store in Bartonsville, Pennsylvania. At that time, Lowe's subcontracted with Third-Party Defendant We Do That Construction and its owner, Todd Romanczuk (collectively “WTDC”), to perform home construction and installation of decking and siding. (Doc. 76, Def. Lowe's Statement of Uncontested Facts (hereinafter “SOF”) ¶¶ 2, 5, 6).[1] Lowe's also generally contracted with Third-Party Defendant Kitchen & Flooring Contractor, Inc. and its owner, Jerome Saylor (collectively “Kitchen & Flooring”), to perform interior installation and remodeling work. (SOF ¶¶ 16, 20). Kitchen & Flooring never subcontracted work to WDTC. (SOF ¶ 15).

         Lowe's contacted WDTC and Kitchen & Flooring to build a display house for its store. Lowe's did not pay Kitchen & Flooring's owner, Defendant Saylor, for work on the display. (SOF ¶ 27). Similarly, WDTC agreed to work on the display voluntarily with the goal of obtaining future sales from Lowe's. (SOF ¶ 41). Plaintiff Matthew Hannon, an employee of WDTC, worked on the display house. (SOF ¶¶ 1, 51, 65). While lifting the roof of the display house, plaintiff broke his wrist when the roof fell on his arm. (SOF ¶¶ 65, 68). No Lowe's employees were present at the time of plaintiff's injury. (SOF ¶ 66).

         On November 14, 2014, plaintiff filed a complaint against Lowe's advancing one claim of negligence for failing to supervise, instruct, or otherwise monitor construction of the display house. (Doc. 1, Compl.). On January 16, 2015, Lowe's filed a third-party negligence complaint against WDTC and Kitchen & Flooring. (Doc. 9, Third-Party Compl.).

         On October 12, 2016, Lowe's filed the instant motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's complaint. The parties have briefed their respective positions and the matter is ripe for disposition.

         Jurisdiction

         The court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is a citizen of Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 1). Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff Lowe's “is incorporated under the laws of a state or jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, ” with its principal place of business in North Carolina. (Doc. 9, Third-Party Compl. ¶ 1). Third-Party Defendants WDTC and Kitchen & Flooring are citizens of Pennsylvania. (Id. ¶¶ 2-5). Because complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the court has jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (“[D]istrict 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[.]”). 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. 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, 248 (1986).

         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 nonmoving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A fact is material when it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id. Where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by establishing that the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the nonmovant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. 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.

         Discussion

         As previously stated, plaintiff filed a single-count negligence complaint against Lowe's asserting that Lowe's negligently failed to supervise, instruct, or otherwise monitor construction of the display house. Presently, Lowe's moves for summary judgment on plaintiff's negligence claim, contending that it cannot be held liable for injuries ...


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