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Cox v. Jesco, Inc.

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

October 21, 2019

JIMMY W. COX PLAINTIFF
v.
JESCO, INC. DEFENDANT

          OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Presently before the Court is the Defendant Jesco, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 46]. The Plaintiff has not responded to the motion. Upon due consideration, the Court finds that the motion should be granted and the Plaintiffs claims dismissed.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The Plaintiff was employed as a laborer in Fulton, Mississippi, at non-party Mueller Copper Tube Company, which manufactures industrial copper pipes. The Plaintiff was injured in a work-related accident inside the Mueller facility on September 14, 2017, when a pipe that was moving down Mueller's production line ejected out of a machine and impaled the Plaintiffs left leg.

         The Plaintiff filed his Complaint on April 24, 2018, asserting, inter alia, that the Defendant, which in the Fall of 2016 had worked on one of Mueller's production machines, but not the machine that ejected the pipe into Plaintiffs leg, was negligent and caused Plaintiffs injury. See Compl. [Doc. 1]. The parties conducted discovery, and the Defendant has now filed the pending motion for summary judgment. The Plaintiff has not responded to the motion.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Although" '[a] motion for summary judgment cannot be granted simply because there is no opposition,' ... a court may grant an unopposed summary judgment motion if the undisputed facts show that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Calais v. Theriot, 589 Fed.Appx. 310, 311 (5th Cir. 2015). This Court grants summary judgment "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Weaver v. CCA Indus., Inc., 529 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2008). The rule "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a sufficient showing 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., 477 U.S. at 322.

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. at 323. Under Rule 56(a), the burden then shifts to the nonmovant to "go beyond the pleadings and by ... 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. at 324; Littlefield v. Forney Indep. Sch. Dist., 268 F.3d 275, 282 (5th Cir. 2001); Willis v. Roche Biomedical Labs., Inc., 61 F.3d 313, 315 (5th Cir. 1995). When the parties dispute the facts, the Court must view the facts and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007) (internal citations omitted). "However, a nonmovant may not overcome the summary judgment standard with conclusional allegations, unsupported assertions, or presentation of only a scintilla of evidence." McClure v. Boles, 490 Fed.Appx. 666, 667 (5th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citing Hathaway v. Bazany, 507 F.3d 312, 319 (5th Cir. 2007)).

         III. Analysis and Discussion

         The Defendant argues that summary judgment in its favor is warranted because it never performed work on the machine that ejected the pipe into Plaintiffs leg and caused his injury, and that there is no evidence that the Plaintiffs injury was proximately caused by any alleged act of negligence on the part of the Defendant. As described below, the Court agrees.

         Under Mississippi law, to establish negligence, a plaintiff must show that:

(1) the Defendant owed a duty to the Plaintiff;
(2) the Defendant breached that duty;
(3) the Plaintiff incurred damages; and
(4) the Defendant's breach of duty proximately caused the ...

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