Lewis-Smith Corporation v. Genesee & Wyoming, Inc.
ORDER GRANTING 43 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment and judgment is entered in favor of the defendant and against the plaintiff on the claim for wantonness and the request for punitive damages. Signed by Honorable Judge W. Harold Albritton, III on 2/17/12. (Attachments: # 1 civil appeals checklist)(djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CHATTAHOOCHEE BAY RAILROAD,
Civil Action No. 1:10cv786-WHA
This cause is before the court on a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by the
Defendant, Chattahoochee Bay Railroad, Inc. (Doc. #43).
The Plaintiff, Lewis-Smith Corporation, filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. #25),
substituting Chattahoochee Bay Railroad, Inc. as the Defendant in this case. The Plaintiff brings
claims of negligence and/or wantonness arising from damage to Plaintiff’s property.
The Defendant filed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to the Plaintiff’s
wantonness claim and punitive damages request, arguing that there is no evidence that it had
prior notice of deficiencies or problems with the culvert which allegedly caused the damage at
issue. The Defendant supported its motion with deposition testimony.
A district court cannot base the entry of summary judgment on the mere fact that the
motion was unopposed, but, rather must consider the merits of the motion. U.S. v. One Piece of
Real Property Located at 5800 SW 74th Ave., Miami, Fla., 363 F.3d 1099, 1101 (11th Cir.
2004). The district court need not sua sponte review all of the evidentiary materials on file at the
time the motion is granted, but must ensure that the motion itself is supported by evidentiary
materials and must review all of the evidentiary materials submitted in support of the motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 1101-02. Accordingly, the court will review the evidentiary materials
presented by the Defendants in accordance with Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Under Rule 56, the party asking for summary judgment always bears the initial burden of
presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of material fact, or by showing, or pointing out
to, the district court that the nonmoving party has failed to present evidence in support of some
element of its case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986).
In the instant case, the Defendant has met this burden. Once the moving party has met its
burden, Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "requires the nonmoving party to go
beyond the pleadings” and demonstrate that is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S.
at 324. If the adverse party does not respond, the court may grant summary judgment if the
motion and supporting materials show that the movant is entitled to it. Fed. R. Civ. Pro.
The Plaintiff, Lewis-Smith, has not attempted to meet its burden under Rule 56, but has
instead represented in response to the Defendant’s motion that the state of the evidence
developed during discovery would not support the allegation of wantonness nor an award of
punitive damages. (Doc. #47). Further, the court has reviewed the evidentiary material
submitted by the Defendant and finds no question of fact as to any material issue raised by the
Defendant as a ground for partial summary judgment.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(Doc. #43) is GRANTED, and judgment is entered in favor of the Defendant and against the
Plaintiff on the claim for wantonness and the request for punitive damages.
Done this 17th day of February, 2012.
/s/ W. Harold Albritton
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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