United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
H. Miller United States District Judge.
before the court is defendant Wal-Mart Stores Texas,
L.L.C.'s (“Wal-Mart”) motion for summary
judgment (Dkt. 17) and Plaintiff Saundra Latham's motion
for continuance of summary judgment (Dkt. 18). Having
considered the motions, record evidence, and applicable law,
the court is of the opinion that Wal-Mart's motion should
be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Latham's motion
should be GRANTED.
brings this action against defendant Wal-Mart Stores Texas,
L.L.C. (“Wal-Mart”), alleging gross negligence
and premises liability. Dkt. 1-2. Latham claims that on June
15, 2016, she slipped in a “transparent liquid that
appeared to be water” on the floor inside a Wal-Mart
store located at 2700 S. Kirkwood Rd., Houston, Texas 77077.
Dkt. 18. Latham contends that after she fell, she noticed the
puddle looked “like a glaze” or “a thin
sheet.” Id. This suggested to her the puddle
had been there “for some time.” Id.
Latham asserts that as a result of the fall, she fractured
her patella and suffered injuries to other parts of her body.
spouse, Christopher Starks, was with Latham at the time of
her fall. Dkt. 18-2. Starks also saw the puddle, but only
after Latham's fall. Id. He describes the liquid
as “thin to the floor like it had been sitting.”
Id. at 6. Both Latham and Starks claim they passed a
Wal-Mart associate exiting the aisle of the incident shortly
before Latham's fall. Id. at 12; Dkt. 18-1 at
10. Latham alleges her husband and three Wal-Mart managers
attended to her after her fall. Dkt. 18-1 at 9. According to
Latham, the managers had Latham fill out a form, took
pictures of the scene, and wiped up the spill. Id.
August 19, 2016, Latham filed this lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
Dkt. 1-2. Latham alleges that Wal-Mart is liable for gross
negligence and premises liability. Id. Latham claims
that as a result of the incident she sustained substantial
injuries and is entitled to loss of past and future earnings,
medical expenses, pain and mental anguish, and other damages.
Dkt. 1-2. Latham seeks all legally recoverable damages,
including pre- and post-judgment interest, as a result of
these injuries. Id. at 6.
removed the lawsuit to this court based on diversity
jurisdiction. Dkt. 8. On April 19, 2017, the court granted an
agreed motion to amend that extended the discovery deadline
to August 14, 2017. Dkt. 16. On April 28, 2017, Wal-Mart
moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 17. On May 18, 2017, Latham
filed a response to the motion for summary judgment, in which
she requested a continuance for further discovery. Dkt. 18.
The motion for summary judgment and Latham's request for
a continuance are now ripe for disposition.
shall grant summary judgment when a “movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “[A] fact is genuinely in dispute
only if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-moving party.” Fordoche, Inc. v. Texaco,
Inc., 463 F.3d 388, 392 (5th Cir. 2006). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (1986). If
the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-movant and draw all justifiable inferences in favor of
the non-movant. Envtl. Conservation Org. v. City of
Dall., Tex., 529 F.3d 519, 524 (5th Cir. 2008).
seeks summary judgment on all of Latham's claims,
asserting that Latham lacks sufficient evidence to
demonstrate genuine issues of material fact. Dkt. 17. Latham
responded to this argument and also requested a continuance
for further discovery. Dkt. 18. The court will first discuss
whether Wal-Mart is entitled to summary judgment under the
current record. The court will then address Latham's
request for a continuance.
acknowledges in her response to Wal-Mart's motion for
summary judgment that there is no evidence to support a
finding of gross negligence and agrees to amend her complaint
to drop this claim. Dkt-18. Accordingly, the court GRANTS
Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment on Latham's
gross negligence claim.