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Moore v. Elpizo

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 7, 2017

ELPIZO, R.I., L.P., et al., Defendants.



         Presently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Elpizo, L.P., Ipax, R.I., Inc., and Phileo R.I., Inc. (“Defendants”) (Doc. No. 44), and Plaintiff Charles Moore's (“Moore” or “Plaintiff”) response in opposition (Doc. No. 47). Moore filed this action to recover damages as a result of an alleged slip and fall on an icy staircase at a hotel property owned, operated, and managed by the Defendants.[1] Moore asserts claims against the Defendants for negligence and/or carelessness for their alleged failure to clear ice from the outdoor staircase of the building where Moore fell. For the reasons that follow, this Court will deny Defendants' Motion.

         I. STATEMENT OF FACTS [2]

         Defendants are the owners and managers of a hotel property comprised of 16 separate buildings located at 7890 Penrose Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, near the Philadelphia International Airport. Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts Supp. Summ. J. (Doc. No. 44), ¶ 1 [hereinafter “Defs.' Facts”]. The hotel operated under a licensing agreement with Hawthorn Suites Franchising, Inc.[3] Id. On January 4, 2014, the date of the accident, Moore was employed as a security officer by Executive Shields, the hotel's third-party security vendor. Id. ¶ 9. Moore's job duties as a security officer consisted of touring the complex in order to report any hazardous conditions, including weather-related hazards and potential misconduct by hotel tenants. Pl.'s Counter-Statement of Disputed and Undisputed Facts (Doc. No. 47), ¶¶ 39-43 [hereinafter “Pl.'s Facts”]; Defs.' Facts Ex. M (Doc. No. 44-13), at 9:7-9:20, 44:8-44:11.

         Prior to the fall, from Thursday, January 2, 2014, at approximately 5:00 p.m. through Friday, January 3, 2014, at approximately 11:00 a.m., it snowed nine inches in the Philadelphia area. Defs.' Facts Ex. I (Doc. No. 44-9); Pl.'s Ex. D. Moore worked the overnight shift at the hotel property from approximately 10:30 p.m. on Friday, January 3, 2014 through 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 4, 2014. Defs.' Facts ¶ 47; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 28. During this shift, Moore patrolled the hotel property six times. Defs.' Facts Ex. K (Doc. No. 44-11). After his last tour at approximately 6:50 a.m. on January 4, 2014, he noted in his work log that “[d]uring the co[u]rse of my tour I notice[d] that all of the building steps are icy in patches” and he advised the general manager of the hotel of this issue. Id.; Defs.' Facts ¶ 28. At that time, he also submitted a maintenance request form where he wrote that “all steps on each building[] need to be salted and becoming slippery.” Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 19-20; Defs.' Facts Ex. G (Doc. No. 44-7). The hotel property had an on-site engineering team that was responsible for the maintenance of the buildings and addressing any issues noted by the security team, including snow and ice removal. Defs.' Facts ¶¶ 29, 31; Defs.' Facts Ex. J (Doc. No. 44-10), at 20:13-21:16; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 19-20.

         Moore completed his shift at approximately 7:00 a.m. on January 4, 2014 and returned to work the overnight shift at approximately 11:00 p.m. that night. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 24. During his first patrol of the property that evening, Moore thought he smelled marijuana emanating from the second floor of Building #7. Defs.' Facts ¶ 15. As he was walking to the outdoor stairway of Building #7, he saw patches of ice in the vicinity of the building which he was able to navigate around. Id. ¶ 13. He did not see any ice on the steps of Building #7 before he walked up the stairs to investigate the source of the smell. Id. ¶ 18. Moore walked approximately halfway up the staircase when he determined that the smell was not coming from the second floor of the building. Id. ¶ 15. When he turned to go down the stairs, he slipped and fell as a result of ice on the stairway. Id. ¶ 11. After he fell, he called for his supervisor, another security officer working at the hotel property that night, to come help him because he was having difficulty walking. Id. ¶ 17. After Moore received medical assistance, the supervisor completed an Incident Report, in which he stated that the stairs at Building #7 were covered with water and thin ice. Id.; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 22.


         A. Legal Standard

         “A federal court sitting in diversity must apply state substantive law and federal procedural law.” Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d 154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)). Under the well-established summary judgment standard, “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment 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). “Summary judgment is appropriate when ‘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.'” Williams v. Wells Fargo Bank, No. 14-2345, 2015 WL 1573745, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 9, 2015) (quoting Wright v. Corning, 679 F.3d 101, 105 (3d Cir. 2012)).

[T]he plain language of Rule 56[a] mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. In such a situation, there can be ‘no genuine issue as to any material fact, ' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. The moving party is ‘entitled to judgment as a matter of law' because the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of [his or] her case with respect to which [he or] she has the burden of proof.

Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         “By its very terms, this standard [that there be no genuine issue as to any material fact] 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). A material fact is one that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. at 248.

         When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court shall consider facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scheidemantle v. Slippery Rock Univ. State Sys. of Higher Educ., 470 F.3d 535, 538 (3d Cir. 2006). To prevail on summary judgment, however, “the non-moving party must present more than a mere scintilla of evidence; ‘there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].'” Burton v. Teleflex Inc., 707 F.3d 417, 425 (3d Cir. 2013) (quoting Jakimas v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., 485 F.3d 770, 777 (3d Cir. 2007)); see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. As this case is in federal court on diversity jurisdiction, we will apply Pennsylvania law to this dispute. Erie R.R. Co., 304 U.S. at 78; Sheridan v. NGK Metals Corp., 609 F.3d 239, 253 (3d Cir. 2010).

         B. Defendants Are Not Entitled to Summary Judgment on ...

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