United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
(ECF No. 59.) The issues have been fully briefed
(see ECF Nos. 60, 74, 137) and the motion is ripe
for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendants'
motion will be GRANTED.
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the instant action
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332 and 28 U.S.C. § 1441.
Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.
initiated this action by filing a complaint in the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, on October
22, 2014. (See ECF No. 1, exhibit A.) Defendants
removed the case to the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania on November 12, 2014.
(See ECF Nos. 1, 3.) Defendants moved to transfer
venue on December 1, 2014. (See ECF No. 8.) On
February 4, 2015, the Honorable Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg
granted the motion and transferred the case to this Court
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1404(a). (ECF No. 25.)
products liability case arises from a gruesome injury
suffered by Plaintiff while working at Shirley's Cookie
Company ("Shirley's"). On January 18, 2013, two
of Plaintiff's fingers were severed while she was
cleaning a machine manufactured and supplied by
Defendants. (ECF No. 1, exhibit A, at ¶¶
8-16.) The machine, known as a "filling depositor,
" is part of an assembly line and is used to deposit
filling onto a sheet or another product such as a cookie.
(See ECF No. 60, exhibit 1, at 2.) To operate the
depositor, an employee must pour the substance to be
deposited into a hopper. (Id.) The bottom of the
hopper contains pistons that direct the substance into
plastic tubes that bring it to where it will be deposited.
(Id.) One day, Plaintiff stuck her hand into the
hopper to clean the plastic tubes at the bottom of the
hopper, and another employee turned on the machine, which
caused the pistons to activate and sever two of
Plaintiff's fingers. (See Id. at 33.)
sued Defendants on a strict products liability theory.
(See ECF No. 1, exhibit A.) While Plaintiff does not
state it explicitly, a careful reading of the Complaint
indicates that Plaintiff alleges two theories for recovery
under strict products liability.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants designed a defective product
because the machine allegedly lacked "guards and [or]
other safety devices, " (Id. at ¶ 18,
¶ 74(c), ¶ 74(f)), did not have a "lock-out
tag-out functionality, " (Id. at ¶ 74(d)),
and did not have a "tool [or] machine which would have
prevented Plaintiff from having to place her hand inside the
machine to implement a bake." (Id. at ¶
Plaintiff asserts that Defendants provided a defective
product because they failed to provide "adequate
warnings" (Id. at ¶ 74 (a)), failed to
"adequately detail dangers and procedures in its
operation manual" (Id. at ¶ 74 (b)), and
failed to update warnings about the machine after its sale to
Plaintiff's employer. (Id. at ¶ 74 (h),
¶ 74 (j).)
seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
"Summary judgment is appropriate only where ... there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact... and the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Melrose, Inc. v. Pittsburgh, 613 F.3d 380, 387 (3d
Cir.2010) (quoting Ruehl v. Viacom, Inc., 500 F.3d
375, 380 n. 6 (3d Cir.2007)); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, A77 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Issues of fact are genuine "if the evidence is such that
a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986); see also McGreevy v. Stroup,
413 F.3d 359, 363 (3d Cir. 2005). Material facts are those
that will affect the outcome of the trial under governing
law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court's role
is "not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth
of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of
record is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party." Am. Eagle Outfitters v.
Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009).
"In making this determination, 'a court must view
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draw all inferences in that party's favor.'"
Farrell v. Planters Lifesavers Co., 206 F.3d 271,
278 (3d Cir.2000) (quoting Armbruster v. Unisys
Corp., 32 F.3d 768, 777 (3d Cir. 1994).
moving party bears the initial responsibility of stating the
basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the
record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If the
moving party meets this burden, the party opposing summary
judgment "may not rest upon the mere allegations or
denials" of the pleading, but "must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial." Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228,
232 (3d Cir. 2001) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 n. 11 (1986)).
"For an issue to be genuine, the nonmovant needs to
supply more than a scintilla of evidence in support of its
position -there must be sufficient evidence (not mere
allegations) for a reasonable jury to find for the
nonmovant." Coolspring Stone Supply v. Am. States
Life Ins. Co., 10 F.3d 144, 148 (3d Cir.1993); see
also Podobnik v. U.S. Postal Serv., 409 F.3d 584, 594
(3d Cir. 2005) (noting that a party opposing summary judgment
"must present more than just bare assertions, conclusory
allegations or suspicions to show the existence of a genuine
issue") (internal quotation marks omitted).
Strict Products ...