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Goben v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 18, 2014

BEVERLY SHERRILL GOBEN, Plaintiff,
v.
WAL-MART STORES, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is third-party plaintiff Wal-Mart's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. #92). Third-party defendant North American Roofing ("N.A.R.") filed a response (doc. #96), and Wal-Mart filed a reply (doc. #97).

I. Background

This case arises out of a slip-and-fall incident that occurred at Wal-Mart Store No. 2592. Plaintiff Beverly Goben filed suit in state court against Wal-Mart for negligence. Wal-Mart removed the action to federal court on January 18, 2012. (Doc. #1).

Wal-Mart filed a third-party complaint against N.A.R. on May 7, 2012. (Doc. #13). Wal-Mart alleges that N.A.R. performed work on the roof of the Wal-Mart store and that N.A.R.'s faulty work created the leak that caused the plaintiff's slip and fall.

Prior to N.A.R. working on the roof of the Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart and N.A.R. entered into a master service agreement which, inter alia, included an indemnification clause and required that N.A.R. list Wal-Mart as an additional insured with N.A.R.'s insurer. Wal-Mart argues that the indemnification clause of the master service agreement has been triggered, and Wal-Mart has demanded that N.A.R. indemnify Wal-Mart.

N.A.R. has refused to indemnify, and Wal-Mart filed the instant motion for summary judgment.

II. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. "When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case." C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).

In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

At summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The evidence of the nonmovant is "to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is ...


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