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White v. Atkore Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 4, 2018

LARRY WHITE Plaintiff - pro se




         Before this Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants Allied Tube & Conduit Corporation (“Allied”) and Atkore Corporation a/k/a Atkore International, Inc., (“Atkore”) (collectively, “Defendants”) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 56, seeking the dismissal of the complaint filed against them by Plaintiff Larry White (“Plaintiff). [ECF 23]. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, [1] opposes the motion.[2] [ECF 25]. The issues presented in the motion for summary judgment have been fully briefed by the parties, [3] and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted.


         On February 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants alleging a single negligence claim to recover damages for injuries sustained on February 20, 2015, at Defendants' place of business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. [ECF 1]. Discovery ensued and, on November 3, 2017, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment. As required on a motion for summary judgment, the facts set forth in this Memorandum Opinion are presented in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255-56 (1986); Todish v. Cigna Corp., 206 F.3d 303, 305 (3d Cir. 2000); Galena v. Leone, 638 F.3d 186, 196 (3d Cir. 2011). The relevant facts are summarized as follows:[4]

On February 20, 2015, Plaintiff arrived at Allied's facility located at 11350 Norcom Road in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the “Premises”), to accept a load of conduit pipe (the “Cargo”) on behalf of his employer, Howard Transportation. (See Def's Ex. A, Allied Security Incident Report [ECF 23-2], at 2). Upon arrival at the Premises, Plaintiff signed and acknowledged receiving a list of driver safety rules (“Allied Driver Safety Rules”), which, inter alia, recommended that Plaintiff lay his tarp on top of the load, maintaining a “three-point contact” at all times, [5] and throw any straps over the top of the load from the ground. (See Def. Ex. B, Allied Driver Safety Rules [ECF 23-3], at ¶¶ 10-11). Allied also made available to Plaintiff a tarping platform, owned by Atkore, to assist him in his task. (Id. at ¶ 12). The platform is on wheels, and can be moved by drivers to their flatbed trailers to allow the driver to secure their load without climbing on top of the cargo. (See Def. Ex. C, memorandum of opinions by consultant Scott L. Turner [ECF 23-4], at ¶¶ 1, 3).
Plaintiff failed to maneuver the tarping platform so that it was flush with his flatbed trailer. (Def. Ex. A at 1). He then chose to mount the Cargo in order to tarp and secure it to his trailer, in violation of the Allied Driver Safety Rules. (Id.) In the process of securing the tarp to the Cargo, Plaintiff fell into the gap between his trailer and the adjacent tarping platform, and sustained injuries to his left side. (Id.).


         Rule 56, which governs the summary judgment motion practice, provides that summary judgment is appropriate “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). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is “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).

         Rule 56(c) provides that the movant bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying those portions of the record which the movant “believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This burden can be met by showing that the nonmoving party has “fail[ed] to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.” Id. at 322.

         After the moving party has met its initial burden, summary judgment is appropriate if the nonmoving party fails to rebut the moving party's claim by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials” that show a genuine issue of material fact, or by “showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A-B). The nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The nonmoving party may not rely on bare assertions, conclusory allegations or suspicions, Fireman's Ins. Co. of Newark v. DuFresne, 676 F.2d 965, 969 (3d Cir. 1982), nor rest on the allegations in the pleadings. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Rather, the nonmoving party must “go beyond the pleadings” and either by affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories, or admissions on file, “designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Id.


         In the one-count complaint, Plaintiff asserts a negligence claim against Defendants. In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to proffer admissible evidence to support at least two elements of a prima facie claim of negligence claim under Pennsylvania law-namely, that Defendants owed Plaintiff a legal duty and that Defendants breached said duty.[6] This Court agrees.

         To prevail on a negligence claim under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must establish: (1) that the defendant had a duty or obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct; (2) that the defendant failed to conform to that duty, or breached that duty; (3) a causal connection between the breach and the resulting injury; and (4) that the plaintiff incurred actual loss or damage. City of Phila. v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp,277 F.3d 415, 422 n.9 (3d Cir. 2002). Where a defendant moves for summary judgment on a negligence claim, the motion is properly granted when the defendant furnishes evidence which demonstrates that the ...

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