Varner v. MHS, Ltd.
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry).Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 1/6/14. (bs)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ROBERT S. VARNER,
MHS, Ltd. d/b/a Wear-Flex Slings
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:11-2138
Pending before the court is the summary judgment motion of defendant
MHS, Ltd. (Doc. No. 20). For the following reasons, defendant’s motion is
Plaintiff’s complaint containing claims for strict products liability,
negligence, and breach of warranty was removed from the Bradford County
Court of Common Pleas on November 15, 2011. (Doc. No. 1). Defendant filed
the instant motion for summary judgment on May 7, 2013. Other than
defendant’s instant motion, other filings in the case have been largely limited
to scheduling orders and requests to extend the time frames in the scheduling
orders. Specifically, plaintiff moved the court for extensions of time to
complete discovery on February 27, 2013, May 16, 2013, and September 4,
2013. (Doc. Nos. 18, 24, 26). All three motions were granted. (Doc. Nos. 19,
25, 27). The court’s order of May 21, 2013 granted plaintiff an extension of
time to file expert reports, and gave him until thirty days after submitting his
expert reports to respond to defendant’s summary judgment motion. (Doc. No.
25). The court’s order of September 5, 2013 further extended the deadlines
for completion of expert discovery, and directed plaintiff to respond to
defendant’s summary judgment motion by December 15, 2013. (Doc. No. 27).
Despite these extensions of time, plaintiff has not filed a response to the
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate if the “pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits,
if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c);
see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v.
Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). A factual dispute
is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is
material if it will affect the outcome of the trial under governing substantive
law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Aetna
Casualty & Sur. Co. v. Ericksen, 903 F. Supp. 836, 838 (M.D. Pa. 1995). At
the summary judgment stage, “the judge’s function is not himself to weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there
is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 ; see also Marino v.
Indus. Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004) (a court may not weigh
the evidence or make credibility determinations). Rather, the court must
consider all evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Andreoli v. Gates, 482 F.3d 641, 647 (3d
To prevail on summary judgment, the moving party must affirmatively
identify those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The moving party
can discharge the burden by showing that “on all the essential elements of its
case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury could
find for the non-moving party.” In re Bressman, 327 F.3d 229, 238 (3d Cir.
2003); see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving party meets this initial
burden, the non-moving party “must do more than simply show that there is
some metaphysical doubt as to material facts,” but must show sufficient
evidence to support a jury verdict in its favor. Boyle v. County of Allegheny,
139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v.
Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). However, if the non-moving party
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to [the non-movant’s] case, and on which [the non-movant] will bear
the burden of proof at trial,” Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment
because such a failure “necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.”
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23; Jakimas v. Hoffman La Roche, Inc., 485
F.3d 770, 777 (3d Cir. 2007).
Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that he was injured at work while using an
industrial sling manufactured by defendant, and brings claims for strict
products liability, negligence, and failure to warn. Plaintiff has not produced
evidence to support his claims, nor has he responded to defendant’s
summary judgment motion in any manner. Thus, pursuant to Local Rule 7.6,
the court deems defendant’s motion unopposed.
The court has nevertheless conducted an independent review of
defendant’s motion and supporting documents. The arguments in defendant’s
brief in support of its motion, (Doc. No. 22), are well-supported by Third Circuit
and Pennsylvania case law. Defendant has additionally submitted various
exhibits including the warnings that were attached to the sling in question, an
expert report analyzing the failure of the sling, and depositions taken in the
case. These documents reveal that there are no material questions of fact
remaining in the case. Further, plaintiff has failed to submit any evidence to
support its claims, and there is not sufficient evidence on which a reasonable
jury could find defendant liable for plaintiff’s injury. Accordingly, defendant’s
motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
For the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion for summary judgment
is GRANTED. Judgment is entered for the defendant, and the Clerk is
directed to close the case.
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
Date: January 6, 2014
O:\Mannion\shared\MEMORANDA - DJ\CIVIL MEMORANDA\2011 MEMORANDA\11-2138-01.wpd
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