United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
P. Jordan III CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dehon Caillier filed this premises-liability suit after she
tripped and fell just outside Defendants' store.
Defendants now seek summary judgment, but because material
facts are disputed, the motion must be denied.
Facts and Procedural History
December 29, 2013, Caillier visited the Marshalls retail
store in Jackson, Mississippi. Although she is not disabled,
Caillier chose to use the store's handicap-access ramp
and tripped over a saw-cut warning groove in the ramp's
surface. Caillier fell into a sliding-glass door, which
shattered and left her with cuts to her hands, arms, and
a claim for premises liability, Caillier sued TJX Companies,
Inc., d/b/a Marshalls, and Ridgewood Jackson MS, LLC, in the
Circuit Court for the First Judicial District of Hinds
County, Mississippi. Defendants thereafter filed a Notice of
Removal with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1332, 1441, and 1446. Jurisdiction is proper.
discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment, saying
Caillier failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material
fact as to the existence of a dangerous condition on the
entrance ramp. Defs.' Mem.  at 5. Caillier responded,
and the motion is now ripe for consideration.
Standard of Review
judgment is warranted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
56(a) when evidence reveals no genuine dispute regarding any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. The rule “mandates the
entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery
and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which that party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
party moving for summary judgment “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.” Id. at 323.
The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324 (citation omitted). In reviewing the
evidence, factual controversies are to be resolved in favor
of the non-movant, “but only when . . . both parties
have submitted evidence of contradictory facts.”
Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th
Cir. 1994) (en banc). When such contradictory facts exist,
the court may “not make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence.” Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). Conclusory
allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and
legalistic arguments have never constituted an adequate
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002); Little, 37 F.3d at
1075; SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (5th Cir.
is no dispute that Caillier was a business invitee when she
fell in front of Defendants' store. As such, Marshalls
had a duty to “keep [its] premises in a reasonably safe
condition.” Karpinsky v. Am. Nat'l Ins.
Co., 109 So.3d 84, 89 (Miss. 2013) (en banc).
Caillier says the ramp was not reasonably safe because the
grooves were too big, the slope was too steep, and the
landing at the top of the ramp was too short. She offers
expert testimony on all three issues and testimony that the
alleged defects violated the 2010 Americans with Disabilities
Act (“ADA”) Standards.
focus their motion on the grooves, which were 3/8 of an inch
wide and 1/4 of an inch deep. As they note, numerous cases
applying Mississippi law have found that cracks in sidewalks,
stairs, and other public areas do not normally constitute a
hazardous condition. See, e.g., Knight v.
Picayune Tire Servs., 78 So.3d 356, 359 (Miss. Ct. App.
2011) (holding that sidewalks and other pathways “often
. . . contain cracks and changes in elevation; and[, ] as
such[, ] they do not become hazardous conditions simply
because they contain minor imperfections or defects”)
(citing City of Greenville v. Laury, 159 So. 121,
122 (Miss. 1935); City of Meridian v. Crook, 69 So.
182, 183-85 (Miss. 1915)). Courts have applied that rule to
cracks that were substantially larger than the dimensions of
the groove Caillier tripped over. See Parker v. Walmart
Stores, Inc., 261 F. App'x. 724, 726-27 (5th Cir.
2008) (holding that crack 3.5 inches wide and 2 inches deep
was not dangerous condition under Mississippi law).
Caillier notes, these cases deal with naturally occurring
imperfections, whereas Defendants allegedly constructed this
ramp with the unreasonably dangerous conditions. Defendants
never directly address this issue in reply, and the Court
will need additional ...