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Walling v. CRST Malone, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

February 6, 2018

(1) PENNY WALLING, Plaintiff,
(1) CRST MALONE, INC. and (2) NATHANIAL S. MEDLEY, Defendants. Defendants.



         Before the Court is Defendant CRST Malone, Inc.'s Motion for Partial Summary Adjudication and Brief in Support (“Motion”) (Doc. 68).

         I. Factual Background

         A. Undisputed Facts

         Plaintiff Penny Walling (“Plaintiff”) alleges that on January 14, 2016, she was involved in an accident with Defendant Nathanial S. Medley (“Medley”) at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and West 23rd Street in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, which was caused by the negligence of Medley. In its Answer, Defendant CRST Malone, Inc. (“CRST”) admits agency and stipulates that at the time of the collision, Medley was an agent of CRST acting within the course and scope of his agency agreement. CRST admits that, should Medley be found negligent and should his alleged negligence be determined to be the cause of Plaintiff's claimed injuries and damages, CRST would be vicariously liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Plaintiff also alleges that CRST was independently negligent for entrusting its vehicle to Medley.

         B. Plaintiff's Additional Statement of Undisputed Facts[1]

         On July 21, 2012, Medley was found at fault for speeding while driving a semi-truck and striking a concrete barrier, which CRST knew at the time the time it decided to hire Medley as a driver. In 2013, Medley was cited for stop lamp violations, inoperative required lamps, failure to obey a traffic control device, and a state vehicle registration violation. (Pl.'s Ex. 7.) On another occasion before he was hired by CRST, Medley drove with an improper speedometer.[2]

         At some point before CRST hired Medley, Medley pleaded guilty to a felony. CRST knew Medley was a convicted felon when it hired him. CRST had a policy requiring senior management to approve the hiring of any convicted felon. No documents exist showing that senior management approved Medley for hire despite his felony conviction. On Medley's application for employment with CRST, he also indicated that he had received a DUI.

         CRST hired Medley on May 21, 2015. Between then and October 8, 2015, CRST cited Medley with fifteen different violations, ranging from logbook violations to speeding. Medley failed his daily inspection report for several dates in December 2015. Medley also failed his daily inspection report on the following dates in January 2016: January 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14.

         On January 14, 2016, CRST entrusted Medley with its semi-truck. On that date, while driving a semi-truck for CRST, Medley turned in front of Plaintiff and caused a collision with Plaintiff. CRST's agent testified that the collision was caused by improper turning by Medley, and CRST planned to fire Medley after the collision, before Medley quit.

         On August 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the District Court for Tulsa County, Oklahoma, alleging negligence claims against several defendants including CRST, Medley, and ACE American Insurance Company, Inc.[3] On October 4, 2016, CRST removed the complaint to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. 2.) On August 8, 2017, Plaintiff, with leave of Court, filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. 62), including additional factual allegations, a claim of negligent entrustment against CRST, and claims for punitive damages against CRST and Medley. On November 20, 2017, CRST filed its Motion, seeking partial summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's claim of negligent entrustment.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper only if “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Zamora v. Elite Logistics, Inc., 449 F.3d 1106, 1112 (10th Cir. 2006). In its summary judgment analysis, the Court resolves all factual disputes and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id. However, the party seeking to overcome a motion for summary judgment “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

         A movant that “will not bear the burden of persuasion at trial need not negate the nonmovant's claim, ” but may “simply . . . point[] out to the court a lack of evidence for the nonmovant on an essential element of the nonmovant's claim.” Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670-71 (10th Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted). If the movant makes this prima facie showing, “the burden shifts to the nonmovant to go beyond the pleadings and ‘set forth specific facts' that would be admissible in evidence in the event of trial from which a rational trier of fact could find for the nonmovant.” Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). To meet this burden, the nonmovant must set forth facts “by reference to affidavits, deposition transcripts, or specific exhibits incorporated therein.” Id. (citing Thomas v. Wichita Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 968 F.2d 1022, 1024 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1013 (1992)). “In response to a motion for summary judgment, a party cannot rest on ignorance of facts, on speculation, or on suspicion, and ...

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