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Robin Mosley, An Individual v. Target Corporation

November 14, 2012

ROBIN MOSLEY, AN INDIVIDUAL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 20, INCLUSIVE,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garland E. Burrell, Jr. Senior United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Defendant Target Corporation ("Target") seeks summary judgment in this premises liability action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56. Defendant contends the evidentiary record shows it is not liable for the alleged injuries Plaintiff sustained when she tripped on the trivial 0.37-inch-high transition strip in Target's premises. Plaintiff Robin Mosley counters that the motion should be denied because the transition strip is dangerous and nontrivial irrespective of its height since it is made of rubber.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). "A fact is 'material' when, under the governing substantive law, it could affect the outcome of the case." Thrifty Oil Co. v. Bank of Am. Nat. Trust & Sav. Ass'n, 322 F.3d 1039, 1046 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). An issue of material fact is "genuine" when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

[The movant] has both the initial burden of production and the ultimate burden of persuasion on [the motion]. In order to carry its burden of production, the [movant] must either produce evidence negating an essential element of the [plaintiff's claim] or show that the [plaintiff] does not have enough evidence of an essential element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at trial. In order to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion on the motion, the [movant] must persuade the court that there is no genuine issue of material fact.

Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). If the movant satisfies its initial burden, "the nonmoving party must set forth, by affidavit or as otherwise provided in Rule 56, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The "non-moving plaintiff cannot rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading but must instead produce evidence that sets forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Estate of Tucker ex rel. Tucker v. Interscope Records, Inc., 515 F.3d 1019, 1030 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Evidence must be viewed "in the light most favorable to the non-moving party," and "all reasonable inferences" that can be drawn from the evidence must be drawn "in favor of [the non-moving] party." Nunez v. Duncan, 591 F.3d 1217, 1222-23 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

Further, Local Rule 260(b) requires:

Any party opposing a motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication [must] reproduce the itemized facts in the [moving party's] Statement of Undisputed Facts and admit those facts that are undisputed and deny those that are disputed, including with each denial a citation to the particular portions of any pleading, affidavit, deposition, interrogatory answer, admission, or other document relied upon in support of that denial.

If the non-movant does not "specifically . . . [controvert duly supported] facts identified in the [movant's] statement of undisputed facts," the non-movant "is deemed to have admitted the validity of the facts contained in the [movant's] statement." Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 527 (2006).

II. UNCONTROVERTED FACTS

Each party submitted a "Statement of Undisputed Facts" under Local Rule 260(b). Target's evidence supporting certain of its Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("SUMF") includes a surveillance film and photographs depicting conditions at Target's entry door where the transition strip is located. Mosley objects to this evidence asserting that the transition strip on which she tripped and fell was unsafe for walking. Mosley's objections are overruled since they are only supported by Mosley's allegations. However, Mosley "cannot rest upon [] mere allegations" in her opposition to the motion and was required "to produce evidence that sets forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Estate of Tucker ex rel. Tucker, 515 F.3d at 1030 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The uncontroverted facts are the following.

On December 31, 2009, Mosley entered her favorite Target store in Roseville, California. (SUMF ¶¶ 1, 3.) Mosley "was a regular shopper at this store, shopping there biweekly for a few years." (Id. ¶ 4.) "On this date, she had scheduled a make-up session for her niece Drew and [she] entered the store with her niece and her former sister-in-law Alicia Cantrell." (SUMF ¶ 5.) As Mosley entered the store, she "turned around [backward] . . . to speak to [her] friends." (Decl. of Robin Mosley ("Mosley Decl.") ¶ 5.)

At the entrance of the store, there is "a carpet transition strip nominally 2.6 inches wide that separates the [store's] thicker outer carpet from the thinner inner carpet. . . . The maximum height of the transition strip is approximately 0.37 inches above the carpet." (SUMF ¶ 14.) The transition strip's "leading plastic edge rises 0.16 inches vertically above the carpet." (Id. ¶ 14.) "[A]s Ms. Mosley was turning [her body] to face forward, with her body being at an almost 90 degree angle to the transitional strip, she tripped." (Pl.'s Separate Statement of ...


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