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Fergin v. XPO

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

November 5, 2018

MICHAEL FERGIN, and ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE CO., Plaintiffs,
v.
XPO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          LAURIE SMITH CAMP CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 201, filed by Defendant XPO. For the reasons stated below, the Motion will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are those stated in the parties' briefs, supported by pinpoint citations to evidence in the record, and admitted, or not properly resisted, by the opposing party as required by NECivR 56.1[1] and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

         On January 4, 2010, Magnum Dedicated, Inc. (Magnum), entered into an agreement, ECF No. 147-2, with Westrock Company (Westrock) to transport corrugated cardboard manufactured by Westrock to Becton Dickinson, Plaintiff Michael Fergin's employer. Pursuant to a separate agreement, ECF No. 201-2, Westrock leased storage space from XPO in XPO's facility in Sioux City, Iowa, and XPO agreed to provide Westrock loading services at that facility.

         On February 18, 2013, XPO loaded a semitrailer with pallets of stacked, Westrock-manufactured cardboard. That same day, Magnum picked up the loaded semitrailer and delivered it to Becton Dickinson's loading dock. The transportation was performed pursuant to a Bill of Lading, No. 43186609213. On February 19, 2013, Fergin opened one of the trailer doors to begin unloading it when a stack of cardboard fell on him, knocking him to the ground. Fergin fractured his shoulder.

         Fergin filed this action in the District Court of Platte County, Nebraska, in August of 2015, and Westrock removed to this Court on January 19, 2016. Fergin's Second Amended Complaint alleged Westrock, Magnum, Magnum LTL, Inc., and XPO “failed to inspect the pallets used to stack the [cardboard], ” “employed a damaged pallet on which to stack and ship [the cardboard], ” “failed to strap or otherwise secure the stack of [cardboard] to keep it from shifting and toppling before it could be properly unloaded.” ECF No. 64, Page ID 317. As the Court noted in its previous Memorandum and Order, Fergin did not specifically caption or enumerate any causes of action but alleged that “[a]s a result of Defendants' negligence he incurred medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent disability.” Mem. and Order, ECF No. 188, Page ID 1300 (quoting Second Amended Complaint, ECF No. 64, Page ID 317-18). Therefore, the Court construed Fergin's Second Amended Complaint as stating a single claim of negligence under Nebraska law. Mem. and Order, ECF No. 188, Page ID 1300.

         On March 12, 2018, the Court granted Westrock's motion for summary judgment and dismissed it from this action because Fergin failed to provide sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude that Westrock was negligent. Mem. and Order, ECF No. 154. On June 15, 2018, the Court also granted Magnum and Magnum LTL, Inc.'s, motion for summary judgment and dismissed them from this action because the Carmack Amendment, 49 U.S.C. § 14706, preempted Fergin's state-law claim against them. Mem. and Order, ECF No. 188. Thus, the only remaining defendant is XPO.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “Summary judgment is appropriate when, construing the evidence most favorably to the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Crozier v. Wint, 736 F.3d 1134, 1136 (8th Cir. 2013) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Summary Judgment is not disfavored and is designed for every action.” Briscoe v. Cty. of St. Louis, 690 F.3d 1004, 1011 n.2 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc) cert. denied, 132 S.Ct. 513 (2011)) (internal quotation marks omitted). In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court will view “all facts and mak[e] all reasonable inferences favorable to the nonmovant.” Gen. Mills Operations, LLC v. Five Star Custom Foods, Ltd., 703 F.3d 1104, 1107 (8th Cir. 2013). “[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue . . . Rule 56(e) permits a proper summary judgment motion to be opposed by any of the kinds of evidentiary materials listed in Rule 56(c), except the mere pleadings themselves.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The moving party need not negate the nonmoving party's claims by showing “the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Id. at 325. Instead, “the burden on the moving party may be discharged by ‘showing' . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id.

         In response to the movant's showing, the nonmoving party's burden is to produce specific facts demonstrating “‘a genuine issue of material fact' such that [its] claim should proceed to trial.” Nitro Distrib., Inc. v. Alticor, Inc., 565 F.3d 417, 422 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). The nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, and must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Briscoe, 690 F.3d at 1011 (quoting Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042) (internal quotation marks omitted). “‘[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties'” will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. Quinn v. St. Louis Cty., 653 F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)).

         In other words, in deciding “a motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a genuine dispute as to those facts.” Guimaraes v. SuperValu, Inc., 674 F.3d 962, 972 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042) (internal quotation marks omitted). Otherwise, where the Court finds that “the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, ” there is no “genuine issue for trial” and summary judgment is appropriate. Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042 (quoting Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009)) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Relying on the Court's previous ruling that the Carmack Amendment preempts Fergin's negligence claim against Magnum and Magnum LTL, Inc., Mem. and Order, ECF No. 188, XPO argues the Carmack Amendment also preempts Fergin's negligence claim against it. In its previous Memorandum and Order, the Court applied the conduct-based[2]approach to its preemption analysis under the Carmack Amendment and concluded that Fergin's negligence claim against Magnum and Magnum LTL, Inc., was preempted. ECF No. 188, Page ID 1304-06. Fergin argues the Carmack Amendment does not preempt his negligence ...


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