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Ramsey v. Caterpillar Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Twelfth District, Tyler

April 19, 2017

GARY RAMSEY AND SANDRA RAMSEY, APPELLANTS
v.
CATERPILLAR INC., APPELLEE

         Appeal from the 392nd District Court of Henderson County, Texas (Tr. Ct. No. 2013B-0254)

          Panel consisted of Worthen, C.J., Hoyle, J., and Neeley, J.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Brian Hoyle Justice

         Gary Ramsey and Sandra Ramsey appeal the trial court's summary judgment granted against them and in favor of Caterpillar, Inc. They present three issues on appeal. We affirm.

         Background

         In January 2012, Gary was employed at JC's Tire Shop in Payne Springs, Texas. He was instructed to complete a tire change on a 120H Motor Grader manufactured and sold by Caterpillar. According to Gary, he was asked to assist with inflating a flat tire on the Motor Grader, which was equipped with a multi-piece rim/wheel assembly. He had never worked on a multi-piece rim. Gary attempted to inflate the tire prior to installing the necessary lock ring, and the assembly "explosively separated." Gary alleges that he suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the explosion.

         Subsequently, the Ramseys sued Caterpillar for negligence, gross negligence, strict liability design defect, and strict liability marketing defect. Sandra also asserted derivative claims against Caterpillar. Caterpillar moved for summary judgment on both traditional and no evidence grounds. It also moved to strike portions of the summary judgment evidence attached to the Ramseys' responses. The trial court sustained Caterpillar's objections and, after a hearing, granted summary judgment in favor of Caterpillar. This appeal followed.

         Motion for Summary Judgment

         The Ramseys present three issues challenging the trial court's summary judgment ruling. First, they contend the trial court abused its discretion by sustaining Caterpillar's objections to the summary judgment evidence. Second, they maintain that they presented sufficient evidence to overcome Caterpillar's no-evidence summary judgment on marketing defect and design defect claims. Third, they urge that Caterpillar did not conclusively establish its affirmative defense that it was a non-manufacturing seller.

         Standard of Review

         When, as in this case, a party moves for both a traditional and no evidence summary judgment, we first review the trial court's summary judgment under the no evidence standards of Rule 166a(i). Ford Motor Co. v. Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2004). If the no evidence motion was properly granted, we do not reach the arguments made in the traditional motion. See id. at 602. This rule applies when the same issues were raised in both the traditional and no evidence grounds. Dunn v. Clairmont Tyler, L.P., 271 S.W.3d 867, 870 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2008, no pet.). Accordingly, we first review the Ramseys' challenge to Caterpillar's no evidence motion for summary judgment.

         After an adequate time for discovery has passed, a party without the burden of proof at trial may move for summary judgment on the ground that the nonmoving party lacks supporting evidence for one or more essential elements of its claims. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(i). Once a no evidence motion has been filed in accordance with Rule 166a(i), the burden shifts to the nonmovant to bring forth evidence that raises a fact issue on the challenged evidence. See Ridgway, 135 S.W.3d at 600. We review a no evidence motion for summary judgment under the same legal sufficiency standards as a directed verdict. King Ranch, Inc. v. Chapman, 118 S.W.3d 742, 750-51 (Tex. 2003). A no evidence motion is properly granted if the nonmovant fails to bring forth more than a scintilla of probative evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to an essential element of the nonmovant's claim on which the nonmovant would have the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 751. If the evidence supporting a finding rises to a level that would enable reasonable, fair minded persons to differ in their conclusions, then more than a scintilla of evidence exists. Id. Less than a scintilla of evidence exists when the evidence is so weak as to do no more than create a mere surmise or suspicion of a fact, and the legal effect is that there is no evidence. Id.

          In determining whether an appellant has raised more than a scintilla of evidence regarding the grounds on which a no evidence motion for summary judgment was based, we are limited to the summary judgment proof produced in the response. DeGrate v. Exec. Imprints, Inc., 261 S.W.3d 402, 408 (Tex. App.-Tyler 2008, no pet.). We review the record de novo and in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, indulging every reasonable inference and resolving any doubts against the motion. See Sudan v. Sudan, 199 S.W.3d 291, 292 (Tex. 2006). All theories in support of or in opposition to a motion for summary judgment must be presented in writing to the trial court. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 166a(c). If the trial court's order does not specify the grounds on which it granted summary judgment, we affirm the trial court's ruling if any theory advanced in the motion is meritorious. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. S.S., 858 S.W.2d 374, 380 (Tex. 1993).

         Applicabl ...


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