United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. GODBEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Order addresses Defendant Wal-Mart Stores Texas, LLC's
("Wal-Mart") objections to Plaintiff Ruby
Arrington's summary judgment evidence  and
Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment . For the
following reasons, the Court sustains in part Wal-Mart's
objections to Arrington's summary judgment evidence and
grants Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment.
Origins of the Dispute
alleges that she slipped and fell while shopping in a Dallas
Wal-Mart. Pl. Ruby Arrington's Br. Opp'n Def.'s
Mot. Summ. J. 1 ("Pl.'s Opp'n") . She
claims that an employee spilled chicken grease on the floor
while the employee was restocking the shelves. Id.
Arrington claims that a few minutes after the spill, she fell
and instantly felt severe pain. Id. After the fall,
Arrington alleges that she had to seek medical treatment.
Id. at 11. Arrington originally filed this case in
state court. Wal-Mart removed the case and now seeks summary
The Court Sustains in Part Wal-Mart's Objections to
Arrington's Summary Judgment Evidence
Court sustains in part Wal-Mart's objections to
Arrington's summary judgment evidence. Arrington provided
still photographs capturing moments from Wal-Mart's
surveillance footage. See Pl. Ruby Arrington's
App. Supp. Opp'n Def's Mot. Summ. J. ("Pl's
App."), Ex. F . Arrington's attorney, Hutton
Sentell, attached descriptions to each photograph.
Id. Wal-Mart objects to Sentell's authentication
of the photographs and Sentell's descriptions of
photographs 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14. Defs.' Objs.
Evid. Submitted Supp. Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' Mot.
Traditional and No-Evid. Summ. J. ("Def's
Objs.") 2-10 . Wal-Mart argues that the descriptions
are irrelevant and speculative. Id.
witness can identify and authenticate evidence as long as the
proponent produces enough evidence to support a finding that
the item is what the proponent claims it to be. FED. R. EVID.
901(a). Sufficient evidence can include testimony from a
witness with knowledge of the evidence. Fed.R.Evid. 901(b).
Federal Rules of Evidence 701 and 702 permit expert and lay
witnesses to testify to their opinions. See FED. R.
EVID. 701, 702. A lay witness may only testify to matters
within the witness's personal knowledge. FED. R. EVID.
602. Lay witnesses cannot speculate. See Id. Their
opinions must be based on their rationally based perception
that is helpful to the factfinder and not based on
scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge.
the Court overrules Wal-Mart's objections to
Sentell's authentication of the photographs. Sentell
states that he reviewed the surveillance video and created
still photographs from the video. Pl.'s App., Ex. F
83-84. As a witness with knowledge of the video, his
testimony is sufficient to authenticate the photographs.
the Court finds that Sentell's photograph descriptions
are speculative and sustains Wal-Mart's objections to
these descriptions. Sentell makes no claim to be an expert in
photograph interpretation, so the Court finds that
Sentell's descriptions are lay witness opinions. In
Sentell's descriptions of photographs 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
13, and 14, he states that the photographs depict a Wal-Mart
employee and what appears to be a cart of rotisserie chicken.
Id. However, the Court finds that these descriptions
are not based on Sentell's rationally based opinion.
Rather, the Court concludes that Sentell merely speculates as
to what he believed was happening in each photograph.
Accordingly, the Court sustains Wal-Mart's objections to
Summary Judgment Legal Standard
"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); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). In making this determination,
courts must view all evidence and draw all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing
the motion. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S.
654, 655 (1962). The moving party bears the initial burden of
informing the Court of the basis for its belief that there is
no genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
party bears the burden of proof on an issue, she "must
establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements
of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in [her]
favor." Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190,
1194 (5th Cir. 1986) (emphasis omitted). When the nonmovant
bears the burden of proof, the movant may demonstrate
entitlement to summary judgment by either (1) submitting
evidence that negates the existence of an essential element
of the nonmovant's claim or affirmative defense, or (2)
arguing that there is no evidence to support an essential
element of the nonmovant's claim or affirmative defense.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-25.
the movant has made this showing, the burden shifts to the
nonmovant to establish that there is a genuine issue of
material fact such that a reasonable jury might return a
verdict in her favor. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd.
v. Zenith Radio Corp.,475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986).
Moreover, a nonmovant does not satisfy her burden "with
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, by
conclusory allegations, by unsubstantiated assertions, or by
only a scintilla of evidence." Little v. Liquid Air
Corp.,37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc)
(internal quotations and citations omitted). Indeed, factual
controversies are resolved in favor of the nonmoving party
"only when an actual controversy exists, that is, when
both parties have submitted evidence of ...