Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ziemer v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 1, 2017

SHAUNA ZIEMER, Plaintiff,
v.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge.

         Before the Court for disposition is Defendant Griffith Company's (“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons that follow, this Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 26, 2016, Plaintiff Shauna Ziemer, as Executrix of the Estate of Darrin E. Ziemer (“Plaintiff”), filed a Complaint in this Court against Defendants Norfolk Southern Railway Company, Clinton Township, the Estate of Howard E. Martin, Jr., and, most pertinently with regard to this pending Motion to Dismiss, Griffith Company.[1] The facts underlying the now Amended Complaint regard Darrin E. Ziemer's tragic death as a result of injuries sustained in a train collision on August 15, 2014. For purposes of clarity and brevity, the following factual recitation will be limited to Griffith Company's direct involvement in and its potential liability for said collision. This involvement proceeds as follows.

         On August 15, 2014, Darrin E. Ziemer and Howard E. Martin, Jr. were traveling northbound on Brick Church Road in Clinton Township, Lycoming Country, Pennsylvania toward a Norfolk Southern railroad crossing.[2] Mr. Martin was driving a vehicle rented by Defendant Griffith Company at or below the posted speed limit[3] as the two were returning from lunch.[4] Mr. Ziemer was a passenger in this vehicle as it approached the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing.[5]Both Mr. Martin and Mr. Ziemer were employed by Defendant.[6] Only Mr. Martin, however, is alleged to have been furthering the interests of Defendant at that time.[7]

         Just as the vehicle operated by Mr. Martin reached the railroad crossing, a Norfolk Southern train traveling eastward reached the same location.[8] At that moment, Mr. Martin attempted to cross at the designated railway crossing.[9] In so doing, Mr. Martin both failed to keep watch concerning the presence of the train and failed to brake in sufficient time to avoid the crash.[10] The vehicle was struck by the oncoming Norfolk Southern Train; Mr. Martin and Mr. Ziemer were both killed.[11]

         The Complaint subsequently brought by Plaintiff Shauna Ziemer, the former wife and executrix of the Estate of Darrin E. Ziemer, contains eight counts against Defendants Norfolk Southern Railway Company, Clinton Township, Griffith Company, and the Estate of Howard E. Martin, Jr. Directly pertaining to the instant Motion to Dismiss are Counts Five and Six in which Plaintiff alleges a wrongful death and survival action against Griffith Company.[12]

         On April 17, 2017, Defendant Griffith Company filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment based on the recent court approval of a workers' compensation claim settlement.[13] This motion has since ripened for this Court's disposition.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Summary judgment is appropriate where “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.”[14] A fact is “material” where it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.”[15] A dispute is “genuine” where “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury, ” giving credence to the evidence favoring the nonmovant and making all inferences in the nonmovant's favor, “could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[16]

         The burden of establishing the nonexistence of a “genuine issue” is on the party moving for summary judgment.[17] The moving party may satisfy this burden by either (i) submitting affirmative evidence that negates an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim; or (ii) demonstrating to the Court that the nonmoving party's evidence is insufficient to establish an essential element of the nonmoving party's case.[18]

         Where the moving party's motion is properly supported, the nonmoving party, to avoid summary judgment in his opponent's favor, must answer by setting forth “genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”[19] For movants and nonmovants alike, the assertion “that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must” be supported by “materials in the record” that go beyond mere allegations, or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.”[20]

         “When opposing summary judgment, the non-movant may not rest upon mere allegations, but rather must ‘identify those facts of record which would contradict the facts identified by the movant.'”[21] Furthermore, “[i]f a party fails to properly support an assertion of fact or fails to properly address another party's assertion of fact as required by Rule 56(c), the court may . . . consider the fact undisputed for purposes of the motion.”[22]

         In deciding the merits of a party's motion for summary judgment, the court's role is not to evaluate the evidence and decide the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.[23] Credibility determinations are the province of the factfinder, not the district court.[24] Although the court may consider any materials in the record, it need only consider those materials cited.[25]

         In the instant matter, the facts of record, read in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, demonstrate that Defendant Griffith Company is entitled to summary judgment. Specifically, in support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, Griffith Company has attached a public docket indicating that Shauna Ziemer was granted workers' compensation benefits in the state of California.[26] Plaintiff, in response does not contest this finding.[27] California's Workers' Compensation Act[28] provides an employee's exclusive ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.