United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises out of a vehicular accident on U.S. Highway 61 in
Bolivar County, Mississippi on April 6, 2017. The accident
involved three vehicles driven in turn by Jeffery Bell,
Raymond Huerta, and Antonio Coleman. Wholesale Glass
Distributors is Coleman's employer and the lessee of the
vehicle he was driving. Jeffery Bell filed this case seeking
damages for injuries he sustained in the accident, premising
federal jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship.
before the Court are three summary judgment motions. First,
Plaintiff Bell requests partial summary judgment in his favor
as to the liability of Coleman and Wholesale Glass.
See Motion . Second, the Defendants request
summary judgment in their favor as to punitive damages.
See Motion . Finally, the Defendants request
summary judgment in their favor as to the negligence per
se of Bell and Huerta. See Motion .
Matters - Timeliness of Filings
Plaintiff failed to file a timely response to either of the
Defendants' motions for summary judgment, and wholly
failed to file a reply in support of his own motion for
summary judgment. See L. U. Civ. R. 7(b);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 6. The Plaintiff also failed to request any
extensions of time or leave to file his responses out of
time. See id. For these reasons, and because the
Plaintiff has not brought forth any evidence or argument as
to his “excusable neglect” or “good
cause” for missing the deadlines, the Court strikes the
Plaintiff's responses [80, 81] as untimely and they will
not be considered by the Court. See Rashid v. Delta State
Univ., 306 F.R.D. 530, 533 (N.D. Miss. 2015) (citing
Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Connecticut, 465
F.3d 156, 161 n. 8 (5th Cir. 2006)).
and Procedural Background
before noon on April 6, 2017 Bell was driving south on U.S.
Highway 61 in Bolivar County Mississippi. In this area,
Highway 61 is a four-lane road with a grass median and two
lanes in each direction. Bell was driving a SkyTrak
construction vehicle in the right lane. Huerta was
following Bell in a Ram 3500 pickup truck as an escort.
Huerta estimates that the pair of vehicles was traveling at
approximately 10-15 miles per hour. The Parties dispute
whether Huerta had his hazard flashing lights illuminated,
and whether the SkyTrak had a reflective, slow-moving vehicle
sign. At the same time, Coleman, further north, was driving
in the same southbound direction in a 2013 International
truck leased by his employer Wholesale Glass.
noticed Coleman approaching from behind in his rearview
mirror and veered off the road to the right. Coleman's
vehicle clipped the rear of Huerta's vehicle, and the
impact forced Huerta's vehicle from the road.
Coleman's vehicle continued southbound and struck the
rear of the SkyTrak driven by Bell. Bell was ejected from the
SkyTrak and injured.
to Coleman, he only saw Huerta's Ram truck when he was
within about 50 feet. Also according to Coleman, he could not
see the SkyTrak until Huerta veered off to the right. The
uniform crash report completed by the Mississippi Highway
patrol states that Coleman was traveling at approximately 45
miles per hour at the time of the crash. In his deposition
Coleman estimated that he was traveling between 55 and 60
miles per hour. The speed limit in this area is 55 miles per
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that “[t]he court
shall grant summary judgment 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); see also Sierra Club, Inc. v. Sandy
Creek Energy Assocs., L.P., 627 F.3d 134, 138 (5th Cir.
2010). “Where the burden of production at trial
ultimately rests on the nonmovant, the movant must merely
demonstrate an absence of evidentiary support in the record
for the nonmovant's case.” Cuadra v. Houston
Indep. Sch. Dist., 626 F.3d 808, 812 (5th Cir. 2010)
(punctuation omitted). The nonmovant “must come forward
with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Id. (punctuation omitted). “An
issue is material if its resolution could affect the outcome
of the action.” Sierra Club, Inc., 627 F.3d at
138. “An issue is ‘genuine' if the evidence
is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for
the nonmoving party.” Cuadra, 626 F.3d at 812.
Court is not permitted to make credibility determinations or
weigh the evidence. Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d
156, 164 (5th Cir. 2009). When deciding whether a genuine
fact issue exists, “the court must view the facts and
the inference to be drawn therefrom in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party.” Sierra Club,
Inc., 627 F.3d at 138. However, “[c]onclusional
allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences,
unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do
not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial.” Oliver v. Scott, 276
F.3d 736, 744 (5th Cir. 2002).
substantive law applies in this diversity case. See Cox
v. Wal-Mart Stores E., L.P., 755 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir.
2014) (citing Wood v. RIH Acquisitions MS II, LLC,
556 F.3d 274, 275 (5th Cir. 2009)).