United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ESTATE OF ANDREW GUIDRY, BY AND THROUGH ITS EXECUTRIX PAULA GUIDRY, AND PAULA GUIDRY, INDIVIDUALLY PLAINTIFFS
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, L.L.C. DEFENDANT
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT
LOWE'S HOME CENTERS, L.L.C.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT  AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
SULEYMAN OZERDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Lowe's Home
Centers, L.L.C.'s Motion for Summary Judgment  and
its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment . These Motions
are fully briefed. After review of the Motions, the related
pleadings, the record, and relevant legal authority, the
Court finds that Defendant Lowe's Home Centers,
L.L.C.'s Motion for Summary Judgment  as to
liability should be denied, its Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment  as to punitive damages should be granted, and
Plaintiffs Estate of Andrew Guidry, by and through Its
Executrix Paula Guidry, and Paula Guidry, Individually's
punitive damages claims should be dismissed with prejudice.
Facts and procedural history
about March 9, 2016, Andrew Guidry (“Guidry”),
now deceased, slipped and fell while walking in the receiving
and delivery department at a store in Waveland, Mississippi,
owned and operated by Defendant Lowe's Home Centers,
L.L.C. (“Defendant” or “Lowe's”).
Compl. [1-2] at 3; Roberson Dep. [124-8] at 11. At the time,
Guidry was an employee of The Empire Company, a vendor for
that particular Lowe's store. Empire supplied molding to
Lowe's. Sigsworth Dep. [124-5] at 11-12; Incident Report
[124-4] at 1. Guidry routinely visited Lowe's to inspect
Empire's supply of molding for any damaged goods, remove
any split or broken molding, and take it to Lowe's Return
Merchandise Clerk, Tammy Sigsworth (“Sigsworth”),
in the receiving department in order to fill out a return
authorization for the damaged goods. Sigsworth Dep. [124-5] at 5,
Estate of Andrew Guidry, by and through Its Executrix Paula
Guidry, and Paula Guidry, Individually
(“Plaintiffs”), allege that Guidry's slip and
fall occurred because he stepped on a piece of plastic that
had been negligently left on the floor after a Lowe's
employee unpacked a shipping box. Compl. [1-2] at
3-5. Other than Guidry, no individual has been identified who
actually saw what caused Guidry to fall. Lowe's
Receiving/Delivery Manager, Brigitte Wiley
(“Wiley”), testified at her deposition that she
heard “something” that caused her to look up and
then saw Guidry on the floor. Wiley Dep. [124-9] at 2, 6. As
Wiley approached Guidry she called Lowe's Assistant
Manager, Rick Molsbee (“Molsbee”), to notify him
of the fall, while one of Lowe's delivery drivers, Kevin
Guillaume, assisted Guidry to his feet and collected the
papers Guidry had dropped. Id. at 6-7; Incident
Report [124-4] at 3. Wiley asked Guidry what had happened,
and he stated that he had fallen on a piece of plastic.
Id. at 7. When Molsbee arrived at the scene, he
filled out an Incident Report [124-4], and took a picture of
the plastic piece on the floor identified by
Guidry. Molsbee Dep. [124-6] at 14-16; Incident
Report [124-4] at 1-2. As a result of the fall, Guidry
allegedly suffered serious and permanent injuries to his
shoulders, right side ribs, left ankle, neck, and back.
Id. at 6. Plaintiffs claim that Guidry underwent
surgery for his back injuries and passed away from
complications related to the surgery. Id.
September 11, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint [1-2] in the
Circuit Court of Hancock County, Mississippi, asserting a
cause of action for negligence against Lowe's.
Id. at 2. Plaintiffs allege that Lowe's breached
its duties: (1) to use ordinary care to have the premises in
a reasonably safe condition; (2) to warn Guidry of debris on
the floor which created a dangerous and unsafe condition; (3)
to exercise reasonable care to protect Guidry from the danger
of a reasonably foreseeable injury due to its failure to
inspect; and (4) to use reasonable care to provide a place of
business that was free from dangerous conditions which caused
an unreasonable risk to Guidry. Id. at 5. The
Complaint also invokes the doctrine of res ipsa
loquitur, id. at 7, and seeks general and
special compensatory damages, damages for loss of consortium,
costs, and punitive damages. Id. at 6-7.
removed the case to this Court on October 16, 2017, on
grounds of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332. Notice of Removal  at 1-4. Lowe's has now filed
a Motion for Summary Judgment  as to Plaintiffs'
liability claims, and a separate Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment  seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims
for punitive damages.
Summary judgment standard
judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Cox v. Wal-Mart
Stores E., L.P., 755 F.3d 231, 233 (5th Cir. 2014);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In deciding a motion for
summary judgment, a court “view[s] the evidence and
draw[s] reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party.” Hemphill v. State Farm Mut.
Auto. Ins. Co., 805 F.3d 535, 538 (5th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Cox, 755 F.3d at 233); Maddox v.
Townsend & Sons, Inc., 639 F.3d 214, 216 (5th Cir.
it can determine that there is no genuine issue for trial, a
court must be satisfied that “the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). If the
movant carries this burden, “the nonmovant must go
beyond the pleadings and designate specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Little v.
Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en
banc); see also Lujan v. National Wildlife
Federation, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990) (the nonmovant must
set forth specific facts to contradict the specific facts set
forth by the movant, general averments are not sufficient).
rebut a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the
opposing party must show, with “significant probative
evidence, ” that there exists a genuine issue of
material fact. Hamilton v. Segue Software, Inc., 232
F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir. 2000). “A genuine dispute of
material fact means that evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Royal v. CCC&R Tres Arboles, LLC, 736 F.3d 396,
400 (5th Cir. 2013) (quotation omitted). An actual
controversy exists “when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts.” Salazar-Limon v.
Houston, 826 F.3d 272, 277 (5th Cir. 2016) (quotation
Premises liability under Mississippi law
this is a case arising under diversity jurisdiction, the
Court must apply Mississippi substantive law. Cox,
755 F.3d at 233; see also Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins,
304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938). “Premises liability analysis
under Mississippi law requires three determinations: (1)
legal status of the injured person, (2) relevant duty of
care, and (3) defendant's compliance with that
duty.” Cox, 755 F.3d at 233 (quoting Wood
v. RIH Acquisitions MS II, LLC, 556 F.3d 274, 275 (5th
parties appear to agree, and it appears beyond dispute based
upon the record, that Guidry's legal status at the time
of his fall was that of a business invitee. “While a
premises owner is not an insurer of the safety of invitees,
the premises owner does have a duty of reasonable care, to
maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition.”
Id. (quoting Pigg v. Express Hotel Partners,
LLC, 991 So.2d 1197, 1199 (Miss. 2008)).
landowner's duty to invitees includes a “duty to
keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition, ” and
a duty to “warn of any dangerous conditions not readily
apparent [of] which the owner knew, or should have known, in
the exercise of reasonable care and the duty to conduct
reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions
existing on the premises.” The breach of either duty
supports a claim of negligence. Id. (quoting
Pigg, 991 So.2d at 1199-1200). “Mere proof
‘of the occurrence of a fall on a floor within [the]
business premises is insufficient to show negligence on the
part of the proprietor.'” Bonner v. Imperial
Palace of Mississippi, LLC, 117 So.3d 678, 682 (Miss.
Ct. App. 2013) (quoting Stanley v. Boyd Tunica,
Inc., 29 So.3d 95, 97 (Miss. Ct. App. 2010)).
Lowe's Motion for ...