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Ramsey v. Buchanan Auto Park, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 14, 2020

FRANK W. RAMSEY, JR., et al., Plaintiffs
v.
BUCHANAN AUTO PARK, INC., et al., Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Christopher C. Conner, Chief United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Frank W. Ramsey, Jr., was injured while making a workplace delivery in September 2014. Ramsey filed this lawsuit, together with his wife, asserting personal-injury and breach-of-warranty claims against two defendants: Buchanan Auto Park, Inc., which owned the property where Ramsey made the delivery, and FCA U.S. LLC (“FCA”), which provided the equipment Ramsey used to make the delivery. Defendants moved for summary judgment, and Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson issued separate reports recommending that the court deny both motions. FCA objects to Judge Carlson's recommendation.

         I. Factual Background & Procedural History[1]

         Ramsey worked as a delivery truck driver for TransForce. (See Doc. 72-2 ¶ 7; Doc. 74-2 ¶ 5). On September 18, 2014, Ramsey was tasked to deliver certain wheeled cages containing Chrysler automobile parts, including one cage to be delivered to Buchanan Auto Park.[2] (Doc. 72-2 ¶¶ 8, 11-12; Doc. 74-2 ¶¶ 1, 5). When Ramsey arrived at Buchanan Auto Park, he unloaded the wheeled cage from his truck and began pushing the cage to the parts delivery location. (See Doc. 72-2 ¶¶ 17-18; Doc. 79 ¶¶ 17-18). The only evidence of what happened next comes from Ramsey's deposition testimony:

Q: Okay. So describe for me, when you were taking the cart to the delivery location, at what point in that journey did you have trouble with the -- with the cart?
A: Well, when I was pushing it, you know, pushing it in, you know, to go inside of the -- and as far as I remember, too, I think there was a bay door --
Q: Okay.
A: -- that was open. When I was pushing it, it hit something, and now I know it was the ditch. It hit a ditch. So I had to leave -- I had to come around on the side and -- as I was trying to shake it for the wheel to straighten up to get out of the ditch, it started leaning over. And so I was trying to hold it and that's when I -- I twisted and had my hand --see, the -- the -- it's a cage so -- and the only way you can get a grip on it is I had to put my fingers in between -- Q: In the holes?
A: -- in the holes. So when it hit the ditch and I was trying to get it out the ditch, it was tilted and, you know, I just had to go, you know, tilt, tilt back like that and twisted my hand and strained my back, I guess. I mean, I don't know what it did to my back but pulled something in my back. And -- and I think that it was the wheel wouldn't straighten up. Now, if the wheel had straightened up, it would've rolled off, I believe, would've come right on off, you know, out of the hole and everything. But then, I, you know, -- I finally got it out and I -- I -- jiggled it, you know, to get it over the -
Q: To get it out of the ditch?
A: -- threshold, yeah. Get it out of the edge and over the threshold.

(Ramsey Dep. 61:22-63:3).[3] Ramsey eventually “jiggled” the cage free from the ditch, completed the delivery to Buchanan Auto Park, and continued with the rest of the night's deliveries. (Doc. 72-2 ¶¶ 23, 26).

         Ramsey estimated that the ditch was “maybe” one inch deep and eight inches wide. (Ramsey Dep. 64:1-6). He does not recall how tall the cage's wheels were or whether the ditch was deeper than the wheels. (See id. at 64:7-14). Ramsey testified that he did not recall having other problems with the specific cage on the day in question, but that, in the past, wheels on the cages would sometimes “lock up because they're defective.” (Doc. 72-2 ¶ 24; Doc. 79 ¶ 24; Ramsey Dep. 58:22-59:14). Ramsey conceded that “[i]t is a possibility” that his past difficulties with pushing the cages was “not because of any defect in the wheel, but because it's facing the wrong way, the wheel is facing in the wrong way.” (Ramsey Dep. 59:15-20). Ramsey also testified that the cages were “top heavy a lot of times” and that the one he delivered to Buchanan Auto Park on September 18 was “kind of top heavy.” (Id. at 59:1-59:2, 68:5-7).

         Ramsey filed this action, together with his wife, on September 13, 2016. The case is now proceeding on an amended complaint which asserts five claims: negligence and loss of consortium as to Buchanan Auto Park, and negligence, loss of consortium, and breach of warranty as to FCA. Among other damages, Ramsey seeks compensation for personal injuries, including ...


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