Smith v. Golden Peanut Company, LLC
PRETRIAL ORDER setting Jury Selection and Jury Trial, which is to last three days, for 1/11/2016 @ 10:00 AM before Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson, in Montgomery, Alabama, as further set out in order. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 12/9/15. Furnished to calendar group & AG.(djy, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JAMES EDWARD SMITH,
GOLDEN PEANUT COMPANY,
LLC, a limited liability company,
Civil Action No.:
ORDER ON PRETRIAL HEARING
A pretrial hearing was held in this case on December 9, 2015, wherein the
following proceedings were held and actions taken:
PARTIES AND TRIAL COUNSEL:
Appearing for Plaintiff, James Edward Smith:
Rufus R. Smith, Jr., Esq. (SMI060)
Post Office Drawer 6629
Dothan, Alabama 36302
FAX (334) 671-7957
Jeffrey C. Kirby, Esq. (KIR002)
KIRBY JOHNSON, P.C.
One Independence Plaza Drive, Suite 520
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
FAX (205) 458-3589
Appearing for Defendant, Golden Peanut Company, LLC:
Stephen M. Cozart, Esq. (COZ001)
Kubicki Draper, P.A.
125 W. Romana Street, Suite 550
Pensacola, Florida 32502
Jason S. Stewart, Esq.
Pro Hac Vice Admission Pending
Kubicki Draper, P.A.
1 E. Broward Blvd., Ste 1600
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
COUNSEL APPEARING AT PRETRIAL HEARING:
For the Plaintiff:
For the Defendant:
Same as trial counsel.
Same as trial counsel.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE:
Jurisdiction is based upon diversity of citizenship of the parties and an
amount in controversy, excluding interest and costs, exceeding the sum specified
by 28 U.S.C. §1332(a). Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§1391(a) since substantial parts of the events or omissions giving rise to this action
occurred in the Middle District of Alabama, Southern Division.
The following pleadings and amendments are allowed:
The Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (Doc. 16) and the Defendant’s Answer
CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES:
The Plaintiff’s contentions:
On March 11, 2014, James Edward Smith (hereinafter “Smith”) was
working as a welder for Dothan Blow Pipe through a temporary employment
agency called EmployBridge Southeast, LLC d/b/a ResourceMFG. On that date
Smith was at Golden Peanut Company, LLC’s (hereinafter “Golden Peanut”)
facility located in Headland, Alabama. Smith’s duties that day included installing
a ventilating fan and general maintenance work on belts and pulleys inside one of
Golden Peanut’s grain elevator pits, specifically Pit Number 1.
At the time that Smith descended into Golden Peanut’s Pit Number 1, there
were no trucks on site and there were two individuals who had knowledge that
Smith was in the grain pit and who were supposedly watching for trucks. While
Smith was in the grain pit, peanuts or peanut dust was allowed to be dumped into
the pit. At that time, Smith was in the bottom of the pit approximately 30 feet from
the surface. As the peanuts and/or peanut dust were being dumped into the pit, the
peanut dust became so thick in the work area of the elevator pit shaft that Smith
could not see his hand in front of his face. Smith was caused to breathe peanut
dust as he made his way to the ladder and out of the pit.
On the date of his injury, Golden Peanut owed Smith a duty of reasonable
care to provide him with a safe place to work or a reasonably safe work
environment. Golden Peanut negligently and/or wantonly breached these duties by
Failing to watch for or keep a lookout in order to prevent the discharge of
peanuts or peanut dust into an occupied workspace;
Failing to prevent the discharge of peanuts and/or peanut dust into the
Failing to notify the truck drivers responsible for the discharge of peanuts
into that workspace (Pit Number 1) of the presence of workmen;
Failing to notify the workmen present in the workspace that peanuts or
peanut dust was going to be allowed to be discharged into the work area; and/or
Failing to follow policies and procedures for the discharge of peanuts and/or
peanut dust into an occupied workspace.
As a proximate result of the negligent, willful and/or wanton conduct of the
Defendant, Golden Peanut, the Plaintiff suffered the following injuries and
Acute exacerbation or aggravation of chronic obstructive pulmonary lung
disease (COPD) resulting from exposure to peanut dust.
Pneumonia/inflammation of the lungs that was caused, exacerbated, or
aggravated by peanut dust inhalation.
Acute respiratory failure.
Smith having to be prescribed oxygen on a full time basis which is
administered through oxygen tubes in his nose.
Plaintiff has suffered mental anguish and emotional distress.
Plaintiff has suffered a permanent physical injury.
Plaintiff claims the cost of medical care, past and future.
Plaintiff claims loss wages, past and future.
Plaintiff has suffered pain, past and future.
Plaintiff claims punitive damages.
The Defendants’ contentions:
Golden Peanut does not dispute that Smith suffered a serious exacerbation of
pre-existing COPD which ultimately required Smith to be hospitalized at Gulf
Coast Medical Center in Panama City, Florida. But, Golden Peanut denies that this
exacerbation was, in any way, related to anything that Golden Peanut, and/or its
employees, did or did not do. In fact, the evidence will show that the level of preexisting disease suffered by Smith, a long time smoker who continues to smoke,
could have been exacerbated by any number of things; including, pure bad luck.
Thus, Smith will be unable to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his
hospitalization and current condition were caused by his work at Golden Peanut.
Further, Golden Peanut denies Smith’s allegations. According to the sign-in
sheets, Smith worked in Pit 1 on March 10, 2014; not March 11, 2014. Also,
Golden Peanut denies that any peanuts were dumped into the pit while Smith was
in the pit working. As such, Golden Peanut did not breach any duties owed to
Smith and Golden Peanut is not liable for any medical treatment he has received.
STIPULATIONS BY AND BETWEEN THE PARTIES:
The parties are correctly named.
The Court has jurisdiction and venue is proper.
The parties stipulate to the admissibility of the Plaintiff’s medical
treatment records from (1) Gulf Coast Medical Center; (2) Northwest Florida
Community Hospital; (3) Dr. James Tackett; (4) Dr. Victor M. Ortega; and (5)
Pulmonary Associates of East Tennessee.
The parties stipulate to the necessity and reasonableness of the
medical bills incurred by the Plaintiff for treatment received from (1) Gulf Coast
Medical Center; (2) Northwest Florida Community Hospital; (3) Dr. James
Tackett; (4) Dr. Victor M. Ortega; and (5) Pulmonary Associates of East
Tennessee. The Defendant reserves the right; however, to argue to the jury that
these medical bills are not related to the incident alleged in the Complaint.
* * *
It is ORDERED that:
(1) The jury selection and trial of this cause,
which is to last three days, are set for January 11,
2016, at 10:00 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in
A trial docket will be mailed to counsel for
each party approximately two weeks prior to the start
of the trial term;
(3) Each party shall have available at the time of
trial, for use by the court (the judge, the courtroom
deputy clerk, and the law clerk), three copies of the
exhibit list and a sufficient number of copies of each
counsel, the courtroom deputy clerk, the law clerk, the
(4) Trial briefs ((a) summarizing the evidence to
be presented at trial, (b) setting forth the elements
of each and every claim and defense at issue and how
the evidence does or does not satisfy those elements,
arise at trial) are required to be filed by December
(5) All deadlines not otherwise affected by this
scheduling order (doc.
no. 17) entered by the court on
February 11, 2015; and
(6) All understandings, agreements, deadlines, and
stipulations contained in this pretrial order shall be
binding on all parties unless this order be hereafter
modified by order of the court.
DONE, this the 9th day of December, 2015.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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