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Pondexter v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division

April 17, 2017

VERA PONDEXTER PLAINTIFFS
v.
WAL-MART STORES EAST, LP; and WAL-MART STORES, INC. DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This personal injury action brought by Vera Pondexter is before Court on the motion for summary judgment filed by Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Doc. #40.

         I

         Procedural History

         On February 25, 2016, Vera Pondexter filed suit in the Circuit Court of Panola County, Mississippi, against Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (collectively, “Wal-Mart”). Doc. #2. Pondexter asserts a claim for negligence arising out of her slip and fall at a Wal-Mart store in Batesville, Mississippi, and seeks damages for medical expenses, lost earnings, physical injury, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering. Id. at ¶¶ 5-9, 14-23, 25-28. Wal-Mart filed a notice of removal in this Court on March 31, 2016, alleging diversity jurisdiction. Doc. #1 at ¶ 12-13. Wal-Mart answered the state court complaint on April 5, 2016. Doc. #4.

         On May 16, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge S. Allan Alexander issued a case management order setting, among other things, the expert designation deadline as October 3, 2016, for Pondexter and as November 3, 2016, for Wal-Mart; and the deadline for dispositive and Daubert motions as January 17, 2017. Doc. #14. On September 29, 2016, Judge Alexander, on Wal-Mart's unopposed motion, extended the expert designation deadline to November 2, 2016, for Pondexter and to December 2, 2016, for Wal-Mart. Doc. #23. Pondexter filed “Plaintiff's Expert Designation Pursuant to Rule 26(A)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure” on October 31, 2016. Doc. #24. On December 2, 2016, Wal-Mart filed its “Notice of Service of Designation of Expert Witnesses.” Doc. #25.

         On December 5, 2016, Pondexter filed a “Notice of Voluntary Dismissal without Prejudice Pursuant to Miss. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1).” Doc. #26. The same day, Pondexter filed a “Motion for Voluntary Dismissal without Prejudice Pursuant to Miss. Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(1). Doc. #27. On December 7, 2016, Wal-Mart filed both an initial response in opposition to Pondexter's motion for voluntary dismissal and an amended response. Doc. #28; Doc. #29. Pondexter replied on December 12, 2016. Doc. #30. Wal-Mart filed a second amended response on January 4, 2017. Doc. #39.

         On January 17, 2017, Wal-Mart filed the instant motion for summary judgment. Doc. #40. Pondexter responded in opposition to the summary judgment motion on January 30, 2017, and Wal-Mart replied on February 6, 2017. Doc. #42; Doc. #43. On April 17, 2017, this Court issued an order denying Pondexter's motion for voluntary dismissal. Doc. #46.

         II

         Summary Judgment Standard

         “Summary judgment is proper only when the record demonstrates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Luv N' Care Ltd. v. Groupo Rimar, 844 F.3d 442, 447 (5th Cir. 2016). “A factual issue is genuine if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party and material if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Burton v. Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., 798 F.3d 222, 226 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, a court must “consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co., 841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016).

         In seeking summary judgment, “[t]he moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Nola Spice Designs, L.L.C. v. Haydel Enters., Inc., 783 F.3d 527, 536 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and alterations omitted). If the moving party satisfies this burden, “the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “Where the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party satisfies this initial burden by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celtic Marine Corp. v. James C. Justice Cos., Inc., 760 F.3d 477, 481 (5th Cir. 2014).

         III

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