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Morales v. Kroger Texas LP

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

August 20, 2019

BART MORALES, Plaintiff,
v.
KROGER TEXAS L.P., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          J JANE J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Kroger's Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. 26. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Kroger's Motion.

         I.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         This is a slip-and-fall case. The parties agree that on June 27, 2016, Plaintiff Bart Morales was shopping at a Kroger store owned by Defendant Kroger Texas, L.P. when he slipped on a wet, pinkish-red liquid on the floor near the frozen food isle and suffered serious injuries to his back, hip, and knee. Doc. 27, Kroger's Br., 3; Doc. 32-1, Morales' App., 21, 34. Morales also describes the liquid as “pinkish with clear, ” “like the hand soaps, ” although Kroger has not adopted that exact description. Doc. 32-1, Morales' App., 27. Morales did not see the liquid until after he had fallen. Doc. 27, Kroger's Br., 3; Doc. 32-1, Morales' App., 21. The liquid extended approximately 5 feet into the aisle, with a width of approximately 1 foot-as Morales also described it, the liquid extended about halfway across the aisle. Doc. 27, Kroger's Br., 3; Doc. 32-1, Morales' App., 24, 27.

         Near the spill was a box of strawberries, which Morales stated “looked dried, ” “like it had been there all night.” Doc. 32-1, Morales' App., 22. Kroger agrees that a box of strawberries was present. Doc. 27, Kroger's Br., 3. No. customers or Kroger employees made any statement to Morales regarding how long the box of strawberries had been in the area, nor did any employee make any statement to Morales that would indicate Kroger was aware the liquid was on the floor prior to the incident. Id. Likewise, Morales stated that he does not know how long the liquid was on the floor prior to his fall, nor when the aisle was last inspected. Id. In short, he offers no direct evidence of how long the spill was in the aisle, nor that Kroger knew about the spill. Id. He relies solely on his deposition as evidence. Doc. 32, Morales' Resp., 1.

         Kroger has moved for summary judgment on Morales' single premise-liability claim, arguing that Morales has insufficient evidence to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact exists. As the Motion is fully briefed, the Court now considers the arguments.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         “The court shall grant summary judgment 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). The substantive law identifies which facts are material, and only a dispute over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248(1986). “[C]ourts are required to view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the summary judgment motion.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (alterations incorporated and internal quotations omitted).

         Once the summary judgment movant has met his burden, the non-movant must “go beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994)(per curiam). A non-movant may not simply rely on the Court to sift through the record to find a fact issue but must point to specific evidence in the record and articulate precisely how that evidence supports the challenged claim. Ragas v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998). Moreover, the evidence the non-movant provides must raise more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. This evidence must be such that a jury could reasonably find in the non-movant's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the non-movant is unable to make such a showing, the court must grant summary judgment. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.

         III.

         ANALYSIS

         Kroger moves for summary judgment on two[2] grounds: (1) Kroger did not have actual or constructive knowledge of an unreasonably dangerous premises condition; and (2) Kroger did not have a duty to Morales because ...


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