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Mora v. Walgreen Co.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 1, 2014

MARIA MORA, Plaintiff(s),
v.
WALGREEN CO., Defendant(s)

Maria Mora, Plaintiff, Pro se, Las Vegas, NV.

For Walgreen Co., Defendant: James F Holtz, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, Las Vegas, NV; Scott J. Ingold, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz APC, Las Vegas, NV.

ORDER

James C. Mahan, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Presently before the court is defendant Walgreen Company's (" Walgreens") motion for summary judgment. (Doc. # 41). Plaintiff Maria Mora did not file a response and the deadline to do so has passed. Defendant filed a reply. (Doc. # 43).

I. Background

This case involves a trip and fall at the Walgreens store located at 5011 East Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada. ( See doc. # 41). On or about March 8, 2012, plaintiff tripped and fell in defendant's store. ( See doc. # 1). Plaintiff asserts that while walking inside the store, she tripped over a metal piece[1] separating the flooring from the carpet and fell hard on to her stomach. See id. The item on which plaintiff alleges she tripped is a transition strip designed to bridge the transition from carpet to tile. Plaintiff was wearing open-toed " wedge" high heels with no back strap at the time of the fall.

The Walgreens store involved in this case has carpet that extends from the front entrance of the store to an area beyond the front registers. ( See doc. # 41). The transition strip itself is permanently affixed to the floor, and runs along the seam between the carpet at the front of the store and the tile in the remaining areas of the store. The strip itself is black plastic, textured with ridges to prevent slips, and is approximately two inches wide. The strip is less than one-sixteenth of an inch tall, and is virtually level with the flooring on either side of it. Based on plaintiff's account of the incident, she was walking from the carpeted area to the tiled area when she fell.

Plaintiff filed her complaint in state court on June 12, 2013, alleging a single claim of negligence. Defendant removed the case to this court on July 30, 2013, based on diversity jurisdiction.

Plaintiff alleges that defendant was negligent because it knew of the dangerous condition the transition strip presented and did nothing to correct or prevent it. Defendant counters that it did not breach any duty to plaintiff since the transition strip did not present a dangerous condition.

II. Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment 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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (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, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (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' ...


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