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Yazdchi v. Mercedes Benz USA LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

July 31, 2019

AL YAZDCHI, Plaintiff,
v.
MERCEDES BENZ USA LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          ANDREW S. HANEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC's ("MBUSA") Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment. [ECF No. 18]. Plaintiff has filed his response in opposition. [ECF No. 19]. Having considered the motion, response in opposition, summary judgment evidence, and applicable law, the Court herein determines that MBUSA's motion for summary judgment should be granted.

         I. Background

         This is a products liability case arising from the purchase of a 2000 Mercedes Benz S500 by pro se Plaintiff Ali Yazdchi ("Yazdchi"), equipped with an allegedly defective car jack. Yazdchi alleges that while he was traveling on a Texas highway (sometime in December 2016), he used the car jack for the first time to replace a flat tire. [ECF No. 1 ¶ 6]. Yazdchi alleges that when he tried to use the car jack to raise the car, it bent, causing the car to fall on the ground and injure him and damage the car. [Id.]. As a result, Yazdchi claims to have suffered severe pain and accrued medical bills to treat his injuries. [Id.]. On December 14, 2018, Yazdchi filed his Complaint and an application to proceed in forma pauperis, the latter of which was approved on January 3, 2019. Yazdchi's Complaint alleges that MBUSA is liable for his pain and suffering, permanent disability, medical expenses, and lost wages under theories of negligence, gross negligence, and strict products liability. [Id. ¶¶ 7, 10, 12]. Yazdchi filed his claims in federal court claiming diversity jurisdiction, as he resides in Harris County, Texas, and MBUSA is a corporation incorporated and with its principal place of business in Georgia. [Id. ¶¶ 1-2]. He claims that his damages exceed $75, 000. [Id. ¶ 5]. Yazdchi also seeks "exemplary" damages. [Id. ¶ 10].

         MBUSA moved to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on March 25, 2019. [ECF No. 9]. This Court denied the motion without prejudice but allowed the Parties to file for summary judgment with corresponding evidence. [ECF No. 17]. MBUSA then filed the instant motion to dismiss and for summary judgment. [ECF No. 18]. MBUSA argues that Yazdchi's claims are barred both by Texas' statute of repose and statute of limitations, as he allegedly brought these claims more than 15 years after MBUSA sold the car and more than two years after his claims accrued. [Id.]. Yazdchi filed his response in opposition, [ECF No. 19], in which he primarily contests whether he was properly served with the motion for summary judgment and disputes MBUSA's affidavit attached to its motion. Although Yazdchi complains about not being served in his response, it is clear from the fact that he responded (and did so within the deadlines set by the Court) that he received it. Regardless, despite this disagreement, this Court has received and considered the response. Thus, the motion is now ripe for ruling.

         II. Motion for Sanctions

         The Court further notes that in MBUSA's motion, it maintained its pending request for sanctions against Yazdchi as a vexatious litigant. [ECF No. 18 n.l]. The Court need not recount the long list of cases submitted to the Court that involve Yazdchi but will briefly address the basis for this motion. In January 2016, a judge in the 215th Judicial District of Harris County, Texas, determined Yazdchi to be a vexatious litigant under the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. It found that he had engaged in five or more such cases within a seven-year period and that he had a "long history of vexatious litigation." Yazdchi v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 2015-11585 (215th Dist. Ct, Harris County, Tex. Jan. 15, 2016). That Court "prohibit[ed] Ali Yazdchi from filing any new pro se litigation in any court in the state of Texas without permission of the appropriate local administrative judge. This Order applies to every court in the state of Texas." Id. Further, an almost identical prohibition was entered against Yazdchi in July 2015 by the 151st Judicial District of Harris County, Texas. Yazdchi v. BBVA Compass Bank, No. 2015-0657, at *4 (151st Dist. Ct., Harris County, Tex. July 13, 2015). The Southern District of Texas has also previously acknowledged Yazdchi's history of frivolous litigation and stated that "Yazdchi is specifically warned that continued frivolous litigation will result in sanctions." Yazdchi v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. 4:15-cv-00121, 2015 WL 12551491, at 4 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 28, 2015) (Rosenthal, J.). While this Court declines to issue sanctions at this juncture, the Court will again specifically remind the Plaintiff that just because it is not granting sanctions in the instant case, this Court or others may very well do so in the future if frivolous litigation is filed.

         III. Legal Standard

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         This Court, as per its earlier notice, is treating this motion as a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 and therefore need not discuss the law that governs motions to dismiss.

         B. Motions for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is warranted "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once a movant submits a properly supported motion, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to show that the court should not grant the motion. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 321-25 (1986). The nonmovant then must provide specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute. Id. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court must draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party in deciding a summary judgment motion. Id. at 255. The key question on summary judgment is whether a hypothetical, reasonable factfmder could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 248.

         In considering the evidence presented by the parties, the Fifth Circuit has made clear that "unsubstantiated assertions are not competent summary judgment evidence" and that "[s]ummary judgment. . . may be appropriate, even in cases where elusive concepts such as motive or intent are at issue, ... if the nonmoving party rests merely upon conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation." Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1533 (5th Cir. 1994); Krim v. BancTexas Grp., Inc., 989 F.2d 1435, 1449 (5th Cir. 1993).

         IV. ...


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