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Malone v. Marriott International

October 29, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VIRGINIA A. Phillips United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Motion filed on September 20, 2010]

On September 20, 2010, Defendants Marriott International, Inc. and Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion") against Plaintiff Kathryn Malone ("Mrs. Malone") and Plaintiff Edward Malone ("Mr. Malone," collectively, "Plaintiffs"). Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment ("Opposition") on September 27, 2010. The Court has considered all papers filed in support of, and opposition to, the Motion and for the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS the Motion.


A. Plaintiffs' Failure to Respond Adequately to Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Facts

Defendants filed a Statement of Uncontroverted Facts ("Defendants' SUF") along with the Motion. (Doc. No. 26.) Under Local Rule 56-3(b), when determining a motion for summary judgment, the Court will "assume that the material facts as claimed and adequately supported by the moving party are admitted to exist without controversy except to the extent that such material facts are . . . controverted by declaration or other written evidence filed in opposition to the motion."

Local Rule 56-2 sets out the requirements for Plaintiffs opposing a Defendant's statement of facts, stating that they must submit a response to each of the Defendant's factual statements, and cite admissible evidence disputing them. Plaintiffs submitted a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Statement of Uncontroverted Facts ("Plaintiffs' SUF") along with their Opposition. (Doc. No. 31.) Plaintiffs did not, however, adequately support their statements in opposition with evidence. Instead, Plaintiffs made a few unsubstantiated or immaterial assertions and repeated them throughout their SUF. As a result, the material facts as claimed by Defendants may be admitted to exist without controversy and adopted by the Court outright.*fn1

Therefore, the matters set forth in Defendants' SUF are deemed to exist without controversy, and the statement is hereby adopted by the Court.

B. Uncontroverted Facts

On November 3, 2007, Plaintiffs went golfing on the Valley golf course at Defendants' JW Marriott Resort and Spa located in Palm Desert, California ("Palm Desert Marriott"). (Defs.' SUF ¶ 1; Compl. ¶ 9.) After putting their golf balls into the course's fifth hole, Plaintiffs walked back to their golf cart, which was parked on a nearby path. (Defs.' SUF ¶¶ 2-3; Compl. ¶ 9.) The route back to the golf cart required Plaintiffs to walk over the rough, an area of the golf course where the grass is kept longer than it is on the putting green. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 4; Compl. ¶ 9.) While walking on an area of the rough that slopes downhill, Mrs. Malone stepped in a depression, or hole, in the grass and fell, injuring herself. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 4; Compl. ¶ 9.)

Mr. Malone had been walking ahead of his wife at the time of her fall. Neither of them saw the hole before Mrs. Malone fell into it, as it was concealed by the grass growing in and around it. (Defs.' SUF ¶¶ 5-6; Compl. ¶ 9) Shortly after his wife's accident, Mr. Malone went to look for the depression and located it by stepping around the area with his feet for two or three minutes. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 11.)

Defendants' groundskeepers maintain the grass on the rough in the area where Mrs. Malone fell at a height of 11/4 inches by mowing the area four times per week. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 34.) Between September 24, 2007, and October 27, 2007, the Valley golf course was closed while all of the grass was cut short, de-thatched (where the matted layer of dead or dry grass material is removed both by machine and by hand), and reseeded. (Defs.' SUF ¶¶ 28-32.) During this process, while the grass on the course was shorter than usual and holes or divots in the grass were more visible, an employee walked around the course and filled in all holes or depressions he could see. (Id.)

The Valley golf course covers 92.12 acres of land, of which the fifth hole covers 4.46 acres. (Defs.' SUF ¶¶ 19-20.) Defendants' groundskeepers perform daily upkeep on every hole of the Valley golf course, doing such tasks as mowing grass, raking sand traps, and handling turf irrigation. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 25.) In the week leading up to Mrs. Malone's fall, the area around the fifth hole was maintained by the groundskeepers on a daily basis. (Defs.' SUF ¶¶ 25, 33, 36.)

Defendants do not have any employee at the Palm Desert Marriott whose sole job is to look for dangerous conditions on the course. (Pls.'s SUF ¶ 26.) Instead, all of Defendants' groundskeepers are responsible for looking for holes, depressions, or divots on the golf course when they are performing their daily maintenance work, and they are responsible for immediately fixing or reporting any holes they find. (Defs.' SUF ¶ 26.)


A motion for summary judgment shall be granted when there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). The moving party must show that "under the governing law, there ...

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