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Kinstley v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

December 3, 2014

PATSY ANN KINSTLEY, PLAINTIFF
v.
DOLLAR TREE STORES, INC., DEFENDANT

For Patsy Ann Kinstley, Plaintiff: Percy S. Stanfield, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, STANFIELD HALL & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, Jackson, MS; Cody W. Gibson, CODY W. GIBSON, ATTORNEY AT LAW, PLLC, Jackson, MS.

For Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Defendant: Michael J. Tarleton, LEAD ATTORNEY, UNGARINO & ECKERT, LLC - Jackson, Ridgeland, MS.

Page 659

ORDER DENYING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

David Bramlette, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This cause is before the Court on Defendant's, Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Motion for Summary Judgment [docket entry no. 20]. Having reviewed the motion and response, applicable statutory and case law, and being otherwise fully informed in the premises, the Court finds as follows:

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On November 19, 2012, Plaintiff Patsy Ann Kinstley entered a Dollar Tree store located in Brookhaven, Mississippi, to purchase some items for Thanksgiving. Kinstley walked down an aisle and turned suddenly at the end of the aisle to the right, tripping over a store display made up of three stacks of canned beans. She landed awkwardly on both her knees and her right elbow. As a result, Kinstley suffered damages including lost income, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Kinstley filed suit against Defendant, Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (" Dollar Tree" ), in

Page 660

the Circuit Court of Lincoln County on December 18, 2013. In her complaint, Kinstley requested $150,000 in actual damages and punitive damages in the same amount based on a theory of Dollar Tree's gross negligence. On January 23, 2014, Dollar Tree removed this case to federal court alleging diversity jurisdiction.[1]

II. Analysis

A. Summary Judgment Standard

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). " A fact is 'material' if its resolution in favor of one party might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under governing law. An issue is 'genuine' if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party." Ginsberg 1985 Real Estate P'ship v. Cadle Co., 39 F.3d 528, 531 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of apprising the district court of the basis for its motion and the parts of the record which indicate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).

" Once the moving party presents the district court with a properly supported summary judgment motion, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to show that summary judgment is inappropriate." Morris v. Covan World Wide Moving, Inc.,144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir. 1998). " The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). But the nonmovant must meet his burden with more than metaphysical doubt, conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or a mere scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp.,37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994). A party asserting a fact is " genuinely disputed must support the assertion by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including ...


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