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Eyer v. Rivera

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

October 25, 2019

MICHAEL EYER, JESSE SALINAS, ANGEL YANEZ, Plaintiffs
v.
FRANCISCO ROMAN RIVERA, SR., PANTHER II TRANSPORTATION, INC., D/B/A PANTHER EXPEDITED SERVICES, INC.; AND PRIME LOGISTICS INC., Defendants

          ORDER GRANTING PRIME LOGISTICS, INC.'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          JASON PULLIAM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is Prime Logistics, Inc.'s [hereinafter “Prime”] Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' causes of action of vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligent qualification, and negligent entrustment against Prime (ECF No. 51). Plaintiffs did not file a response. After due consideration, the Court concludes the Motion shall be granted.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This dispute arises out of an automobile accident that occurred on September 7, 2017, in San Antonio, Texas. ECF No. 12. Plaintiff Michael Eyer was driving an Isuzu NPR, and Plaintiffs Jesse Salinas and Angel Yanez were passengers in the vehicle. Id. Defendant Francisco Roman Rivera, Sr. (“Defendant Rivera”) was operating a Freightliner tractor when he collided with the rear end of the Isuzu. ECF No. 50.

         After removal to federal court, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint, in which they allege causes of action for ordinary negligence and negligence per se. ECF No.12. Plaintiffs allege Prime is responsible for Rivera's conduct based upon the respondeat theory of vicarious liability. Id. Additionally, Plaintiffs bring independent causes of action against Prime for negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligently qualifying Defendant Rivera as a commercial motor vehicle operator, and negligent entrustment. Id.

         Prime filed this motion seeking partial summary judgment on Plaintiffs' causes of action for vicarious liability, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligently qualifying Defendant Rivera as a commercial motor vehicle operator, and negligent entrustment.[1] ECF No. 51.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To be entitled to summary judgment, the movant must show “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).[2] “As to materiality, the substantive law will identify which facts are material, ” and a fact is “material” only if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, ” a dispute over a material fact qualifies as “genuine” within the meaning of Rule 56. Id. Because there must be a genuine dispute of material fact, “the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment.” Id. at 247-48. There is no genuine dispute for trial when “the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)).

         The “party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “When a party moves for summary judgment on claims on which the opposing parties will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can meet its summary judgment obligation by pointing the court to the absence of admissible evidence to support the nonmovants' claims.” Armas v. St. Augustine Old Roman Catholic Church, No. 3:17-CV-2383-D, 2019 WL 2929616, at *2 (N.D. Tex. July 8, 2019) (citing Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325); see also Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., 864 F.3d 33326, 335 (5th Cir. 2017)(Kroger satisfied its summary judgment burden by asserting Austin had no evidence of causation, which was a specific element of the negligence cause of action). The movant is not required to negate the elements of the nonmovant's case but may satisfy its summary judgment burden by alleging the absence of facts supporting specific elements of the nonmovant's cause(s) of action. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075, 1076 n. 16 (5th Cir. 1994). If the movant carries that initial burden, the burden shifts to the party opposing the motion to present competent summary judgment evidence showing the existence of a genuine fact dispute. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

         In determining whether to grant summary judgment, a court must view all facts and reasonable inferences drawn from the record “in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” Heinsohn v. Carabin & Shaw, P.C., 832 F.3d 224, 234 (5th Cir. 2016) (citation omitted). However, a court has “no duty to search the record for material fact issues.” RSR Corp. v. Int'l Ins. Co., 612 F.3d 851, 857 (5th Cir. 2010); accord Hernandez v. Yellow Transp., Inc., 670 F.3d 644, 651 (5th Cir. 2012).

         DISCUSSION

         Prime moves for partial summary judgment on Plaintiffs' vicarious liability cause of action and Plaintiffs' independent causes of action for negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, negligently qualifying Defendant Rivera as a commercial motor vehicle operator and negligent entrustment. ECF No. 51. Prime contends it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiffs cannot produce admissible evidence to support specific elements of the asserted causes of action. Id. Plaintiffs did not file a response to Prime's motion.[3]Accordingly, Prime may satisfy its summary judgment burden by “pointing the court to the absence of admissible evidence to support the nonmovants' claims.” Armas v. St. Augustine Old Roman Catholic Church, 2019 WL 2929616, at *2; see also Austin v. Kroger Texas, L.P., 864 F.3d at 335.

         The Court will address each of Prime's challenges to each cause of action independently to determine whether it met its summary judgment burden.

         Vicarious ...


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