United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendants Crete Carrier Corporation and Dorn
Knapp's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 42) against
Plaintiff Susan Hanan. For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS in part and DENIES in
part Defendants' motion.
18, 2018, Susan Hanan was traveling on Interstate 45 in
Navarro County, Texas, when her vehicle was hit by Crete
Carrier Corporation's tractor trailer. Doc. 4, Supp. Doc.
(“Original Pet.”), ¶ 6. Hanan alleges that
the vehicle was being driven by Knapp, who was an employee of
Crete at the time. Id. Hanan further alleges that
she was hit when “Knapp changed lanes unsafely in the
lane into which [Hanan] was lawfully driving, crashing into
[Hanan's] vehicle at a high rate of speed.”
brings this lawsuit against both Crete and Knapp.
Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Hanan alleges that she
suffered severe injuries to her head, neck, back, and other
body parts as a result of the accident. Id. ¶
brings six causes of action: (1) negligence and gross
negligence against both Defendants; (2) negligence per se
against both Defendants; (3) negligent hiring against Crete; (4)
negligent training against Crete; (5) negligent supervision,
retention, and monitoring against Crete; and (6) negligent
entrustment against Crete. Id. at 3-8.
subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on all
claims (Doc. 42). With all briefing filed, the motion is now
ripe for review.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56 (a). The substantive law governing a matter determines
which facts are material to a case. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The
summary-judgment movant bears the burden of proving that no
genuine issue of material fact exists. Latimer v.
Smithkline & French Labs., 919 F.2d 301, 303 (5th
Cir.1990). Usually, this requires the movant to identify
“those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with
affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quotation marks
omitted). But if the non-movant ultimately bears the burden
of proof at trial, the summary-judgment movant may satisfy
its burden by pointing to the mere absence of evidence
supporting an essential element of the non-movant's
claim. See Austin v. Kroger Tex., L.P., 864 F.3d
326, 335 n.10 (5th Cir. 2017).
the summary judgment movant has met this burden, the burden
shifts to the non-movant to “go beyond the pleadings
and designate specific facts” showing that a genuine
issue exists. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994) (per curiam) (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325). “This burden is not
satisfied with ‘some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts,' by ‘conclusory allegations,'
by ‘unsubstantiated assertions,' or by only a
‘scintilla' of evidence.” Id.
(citations omitted). Instead, the non-moving party must
“come forward with specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
587 (1986) (quotation marks omitted). “[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 quotations
marks omitted). But the court need not “sift through
the record in search of evidence to support a party's
opposition to summary judgment.” Ragas v. Tenn. Gas
Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir.1998) (citation
and quotation marks omitted). If the non-movant is unable to
make the required showing, the court must grant summary
judgment. Little, 37 F.3d at 1076.
Whether Defendants Bring a Proper Summary-Judgment
contends that the conclusory nature of Defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment makes it a “no-evidence”
summary judgment motion that does not satisfy Defendants'
initial burden as the moving party. Doc. 50, Pl.'s Resp.,
11-12. Hanan believes that Defendants' motion is based
“solely [on] conclusory statements that [Hanan] had
‘no evidence' to support each of her claims.”
Id. at 12. Such motions, Hanan argues, are
“pleading[s] that may be filed in state court, but not
federal court.” Id. at 12 (quotation marks
omitted) (quoting BB Energy LP v. Devon Energy Prod.
Co., 2008 WL 2164583, at *12 (N.D. Tex. May 23, 2008)
(citing Casteneda v. Flores, 2007 WL 1671742, at
*2-3 (S.D. Tex. June 8, 2007))).
response, Defendants believe that they met their initial
burden when they “pointed . . . to the specific
elements of the causes of action pled by Plaintiff in her
complaint . . . on which Plaintiff cannot produce evidence
sufficient to create a genuine dispute of material
fact.” Doc. 59, Defs.' Reply, 3-4 (citing
Austin, 864 F.3d at 335). Thus, to Defendants,
Austin forecloses Hanan's argument that
Defendants' summary-judgment motion was improper.
Id. at 4.
claims but the negligence per se and ratification claims, the
Court need not decide whether Defendants met their initial
burden on their motion, as Hanan has pointed to genuine
disputes of material fact as to each of those claims. Thus,
the motion will be considered, but Defendants are admonished
that they should read the law on bear-bones motions like
Negligence Claim Against Knapp
three elements of a negligence cause of action are duty,
breach of the duty, and damages proximately caused by the
breach. Lee Lewis Constr., Inc. v. Harrison, 70
S.W.3d 778, 782 (Tex. 2001) (citing Praesel v.
Johnson, 967 S.W.2d 391, 394 (Tex. 1998)).
their motion, Defendants argue that Hanan “has no
evidence that any negligent act or omission by Knapp was the
proximate cause of her alleged injuries.” Doc. 43,
Defs.' Br., 7. Defendants believe that Hanan “has
no evidence to show that a reasonable person would foresee
that such an accident would result in the extensive bodily
injury and damage [Hanan] claims in this case.”
Id. at 8.
responds by pointing to the deposition of Greg Brown, a
witness to the accident, who agreed with the assertion that
Knapp made an “illegal or improper lane change, ”
which then “cause[d] an accident.” Doc. 51,
Pl.'s App., Ex. B, Dep. of Greg Brown, 25:19-25.
Proximate cause has two elements: cause-in-fact and
foreseeability. Ginn v. Pierce, 2019 WL 4511328, at
*2 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Sept. 19, 2019).
Defendants argue only lack of foreseeability in their motion.
See Doc. 43, Defs.' Br., 8.
“Foreseeability requires that a person of ordinary
intelligence should have anticipated the danger created by a
negligent act or omission.” Tobin v. AMR
Corp., 637 F.Supp.2d 406, 413 (N.D. Tex. 2009).
Specifically, “[t]he danger of injury is foreseeable if
its ‘general character . . . might reasonably
have been anticipated.'” Id. (emphasis
added) (quoting Nixonv. Mr. Prop. Mgmt.
Co., 690 S.W.2d 546, 551 (Tex. 1980) (citation
omitted)). The Court believes that a reasonable juror ...