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McCarty v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

July 18, 2017

PAMELA MCCARTY; NICK MCCARTY, Plaintiffs - Appellants
v.
HILLSTONE RESTAURANT GROUP, INCORPORATED, doing business as Houston's Restaurant, Defendant-Appellee

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

          Before JOLLY, SMITH, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.

          JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., CIRCUIT JUDGE:

         In this appeal, Pamela and Nick McCarty contend the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Hillstone Restaurant Group, Inc. ("Hillstone"). We AFFIRM.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On February 16, 2014, the McCartys and another couple went to dinner at Houston's Restaurant ("Houston's"), a business operated by Hillstone. Mrs. McCarty fell while walking to the restrooms, which required her to pass the restaurant's kitchen. At the time, Mrs. McCarty was using crutches due to a recent surgery on her heel. The McCartys allege some substance on the floor outside the restaurant's kitchen and restrooms caused Mrs. McCarty's crutch to slip from underneath her.

         JURISDICTION

         Federal subject matter jurisdiction exists based upon diversity of citizenship. The McCartys are Texas citizens, while Hillstone is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Atlanta, Georgia.

         This court has appellate jurisdiction over the McCartys' appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "[This court] review[s] 'a grant of summary judgment . . . de novo, applying the same standard on appeal that is applied by the district court.'" Ocwen Loan Servicing, L.L.C. v. Berry, 852 F.3d 469 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting Tiblier v. Dlabal, 743 F.3d 1004, 1007 (5th Cir. 2014)) (bracket omitted). "Summary judgment is appropriate 'if the 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.'" Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). "[This court] also review[s] 'a district court's determinations of state law de novo.'" Id. (quoting Lozovyy v. Kurtz, 813 F.3d 576, 580 (5th Cir. 2015)).

         "Once the moving party has demonstrated the absence of a material fact issue, the non-moving party must 'go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Boudreaux v. Swift Transp. Co., 402 F.3d 536, 540 (5th Cir. 2005) (quoting Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc)). "This burden will not be satisfied by 'some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by only a scintilla of evidence.'" Id. (quoting Little, 37 F.3d at 1075). "Rather, the non-moving party must 'set forth specific facts showing the existence of a "genuine" issue concerning every essential component of its case.'" Id. (quoting Morris v. Covan World Wide Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998)). "A dispute as to a material fact is 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id.

         "When considering summary judgment evidence, [this court] must view 'all facts and inferences . . . in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.'" Id. (quoting Armstrong v. Am. Home Shield Corp., 333 F.3d 566, 568 (5th Cir. 2003)). "[This court] must 'not weigh the evidence or evaluate the credibility of witnesses.'" Id. (quoting Morris, 144 F.3d at 380). "[This court] resolve[s] factual controversies in favor of the nonmoving party, but only where there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory facts." Id. (quoting Little, 37 F.3d at 1075). "[This court] will not assume 'in the absence of any proof . . . that the nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary facts, ' and will grant summary judgment 'in any ...


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