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Martinez v. Navy League of United States

United States District Court, C.D. California

August 18, 2014

DOLORES MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NAVY LEAGUE OF THE UNITED STATES, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [66]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 31, 2011, Plaintiff Dolores Martinez attended Los Angeles Navy Week in San Pedro, California, where she tripped over a fence. Martinez-a pro se litigant-sued Defendant Navy League of the United States for negligence. Navy League now moves for summary judgment, arguing that it did not have control over or possess of the premises where the accident occurred, and thus owed no duty of care to Martinez. For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS Navy League's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 66.)

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The Navy League is a civilian-operated nonprofit organization that operates independently from the United States Navy. (Ivey Decl. ¶ 3.)[1] The Navy League's mission is "(1) to enhance the morale of active-duty personnel and their families; (2) to inform Congress and the American public of the importance of strong sea services; (3) and to support youth through programs... that expose young people to the values of our sea service." ( Id. ) To these ends, and in anticipation of the 2011 Los Angeles Navy Week event, Ivey procured a "temporary entry and use permit on behalf of the Navy League as licensee from the City of Los Angeles for Berth 46 and adjacent parking areas." ( Id. ¶ 7.) Ivey then gave the license to the United States Navy "so that it could host the Navy Week event, " which allows civilians to board and tour naval vessels. ( Id. ¶ 9.)

Upon receiving the license, the U.S. Navy took possession of Berth 46 and controlled "every facet of set up, security, planning and control, and maintained security at all times." ( Id. ¶¶ 10-11.) The Navy League took no part in the planning or design, hiring or securing of contractors, or any other operational aspect of Navy Week. ( Id. ¶¶ 12-13.) The U.S. Navy hired Ship Supply of Florida ("Ship Supply") as its agent. (Genatempo Decl. Ex. B 6:11-24) Under the direction of Christian Giannakopoulos, Ship Supply's President, Ship Supply made the arrangements for the equipment needed for Navy Week. ( Id. at 17:25-18:10.) Specifically, Lieutenant Commander Homer Buen of the U.S. Navy directed Ship Supply to erect a temporary fence at Berth 46. ( Id. at 8:16-11:21, Ex. 2-3.) Ship Supply contracted with Event Production Services to build the temporary fencing. ( Id. at 12:8-20.)

Navy League did not participate in Navy Week in an official capacity after it turned the license over to the U.S. Navy. (Ivey Decl. ¶ 15.) It also did not send any representatives to Berth 46 during Navy Week, although some members may have attended in a personal capacity. ( Id. )

Martinez alleges that on July 31, 2011, she and her grandson attended Los Angeles Navy Week in San Pedro, California. (SAC ¶ 3(E).) After passing through a security checkpoint, Martinez walked inside a fenced-off corridor toward the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, among a crowd of people. ( Id. ) Martinez was walking along the left edge of the fence when she tripped over a metal bracket used to stabilize the fence. ( Id. ) She injured her right knee and left elbow. Military personnel responded to her accident, ultimately taking her to the first aid station on board the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. ( Id. at 6; Genatempo Decl. Ex. A. 58:13-59:25, 63:4-6.)

On July 31, 2013, Martinez initiated this action against Navy League, alleging violations of various California statutes. (ECF No. 1.) Martinez is unrepresented by counsel. After three motions to dismiss (ECF Nos. 8, 24, 38) and two amended complaints (ECF Nos. 16, 37), the Court found that Martinez met the minimum threshold required to state a claim for simple negligence in the Second Amended Complaint ("SAC").

On June 12, 2014, Navy League filed this Motion for Summary Judgment, or in the alternative, Summary Adjudication. (ECF No. 66.) Martinez timely filed a "Verified L.R. 7-9 Opposing Papers to Motion for Summary Judgment as to Second Amended Complaint, " but submitted no evidence in her Opposition. (ECF No. 89.) Martinez also makes reference to an amended complaint, which the Court denied her leave to file during the pendency of this Motion. (ECF Nos. 86, 87.) In addition, Martinez filed Amended Opposing Papers after the deadline to oppose the Motion. (ECF Nos. 95, 96.) A hearing was held on August 18, 2014, and the Motion for Summary Judgment is now before the Court for decision.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment should be granted if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and identify specific facts through admissible evidence that show a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Conclusory or speculative testimony in affidavits and moving papers is insufficient to raise genuine issues of fact and defeat summary judgment. Thornhill's Publ'g Co. v. GTE Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir. 1979).

A genuine issue of material fact must be more than a scintilla of evidence, or evidence that is merely colorable or not significantly probative. Addisu v. Fred Meyer, 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). A disputed fact is "material" where the resolution of that fact might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1968). An issue is "genuine" if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. Where the moving and nonmoving parties' versions of events differ, courts are ...


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