United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant Pyae Maung's Motion for
Summary Judgment and Brief in Support (Dkt. # 26). Defendant
Pyae Maung argues that he was merely a passenger in the
tractor-trailer that collided with plaintiff Adam Cox's
tractor trailer, and Maung asserts that he cannot be held
liable for negligence under Oklahoma law. Plaintiffs respond
that they need to conduct additional discovery before
responding to the motion for summary judgment, because they
believe that it possible that a passenger can be held liable
under Oklahoma law for failing to take appropriate action to
prevent an automobile accident.
31, 2017, Sai Wai was operating a tractor-trailer owned by by
Swift Transportation Co. of Arizona, LLC (Swift), and he had
stopped at a Kum and Go on the Will Rogers Turnpike in
Oklahoma. Dkt. # 26-1, at 5. Wai attempted to merge onto the
highway and it is undisputed that his tractor-trailer was
struck in the rear by a tractor-trailer driven by Adam Cox.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) Trooper Jason McCarthy
conducted an investigation and determined that the damage to
the tractor-trailers suggested that there was a substantial
difference in speed between the two vehicles. Id.
Wai stated that he had his emergency flashers on as he
entered the highway and that he was in the process of
accelerating to highway speed when the accident occurred.
Id. McCarthy wanted to determine what speed a
comparable vehicle could achieve when entering the highway.
Id. McCarthy observed ten tractor-trailers of a
similar size as Wai's vehicle merge onto the highway, and
McCarthy determined that the average speed was 37 miles per
hour when the vehicles merged onto the highway. Id.
McCarthy concluded that it was reasonable that Wai's
tractor-trailer was not moving in excess of the highway
minimum of 50 miles per hour, and he determined that Cox had
sufficient time to observe Wai's tractor-trailer and
avoid the collision. Id.
March 5, 2018, plaintiffs filed this case alleging claims
against Swift, Wai, and Maung. Plaintiffs allege that Adam
Cox was “properly and safely operating his commercial
motor carrier, a 2012 Freightliner, while traveling eastbound
on I-44 in Craig County, Oklahoma when suddenly and without
warning collided with a tractor-trailer being operated by
[Wai].” Dkt. # 2, at 3. The complaint clearly states
that Wai was operating the Swift tractor-trailer and that
Maung was a passenger at the time of the accident.
Id. at 4. As to Maung, plaintiffs allege that Maung
was serving as a driving instructor for Wai at the time of
the accident. Id. Plaintiffs allege a claim of
negligence against Wai and Maung and, as to Maung, plaintiffs
claim that Maung had a duty to ensure that Wai was operating
the tractor-trailer in a safe manner by driving at the
minimum speed required on the highway and by using safety
lights. Id. at 5. The complaint also alleges a claim
of negligence per se against all defendants and claims of
negligence against Swift based on theories of vicarious
liability and failure to properly train or supervise its
drivers. Id. at 6-7. Plaintiffs seek compensatory
and punitive damages in excess of $1, 000, 000. Id.
sent interrogatories to Maung seeking information about the
accident, and Maung advised plaintiffs that he was a
“trainee” when the accident occurred and that Wai
was his instructor. Dkt. # 26-2, at 6. Maung states that he
was in the sleeper berth when the Swift tractor-trailer was
rear-ended by the tractor-trailer driven by Adam Cox.
Id. at 7. Maung recalls that Wai was accelerating
when the tractor-trailer driven by Adam Cox rear-ended their
vehicle. Id. at 7. Numerous discovery disputes arose
as to issues unrelated to plaintiffs' claims against
Maung, and plaintiffs filed a motion to compel discovery.
Dkt. # 27. The motion to compel was referred to a magistrate
judge and the motion has been resolved. The parties filed a
motion to extend all deadlines in the scheduling order,
because the parties needed to gather additional information
about Adam Cox's future medical treatment before
proceeding. Dkt. # 48, at 3. In their motion to extend
deadlines, the parties represent that Wai and Maung were
deposed on December 20 and 21, 2018. Id. Plaintiffs
have not attempted to supplement their response to
Maung's motion for summary judgment with Wai's or
Maung's deposition testimony.
judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 is appropriate where
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 250 (1986); Kendall v. Watkins, 998 F.2d 848,
850 (10th Cir. 1993). The plain language of Rule 56(c)
mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient 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, 477 U.S. at 317. “Summary judgment
procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural
shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules
as a whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just,
speedy and inexpensive determination of every
action.'” Id. at 327.
the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its
opponent must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. . . . Where the
record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no
‘genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586-87 (1986) (citations omitted). “The mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's
position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on
which the [trier of fact] could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. In
essence, the inquiry for the Court is “whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id. at
250. In its review, the Court construes the record in the
light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.
Garratt v. Walker, 164 F.3d 1249, 1251 (10th Cir.
argues that he was merely a passenger in the tractor-trailer
when the accident occurred, and he owed no duty to Adam Cox
that could support a negligence claim against Maung. Dkt. #
26, at 6. Plaintiffs respond that they have not had time to
conduct discovery to verify defendants' claims that Maung
was merely a passenger in the vehicle and, even if Maung was
simply a passenger, plaintiffs may still have a valid
negligence claim against Maung if he failed to exercise
ordinary care to prevent the accident. Dkt. # 30, at 5.
argue that they have not had time to conduct discovery to
verify Maung's claims that Maung was Wai's trainee,
and they claim that they cannot fully respond to Maung's
motion for summary judgment. Dkt. # 30, at 3. The Court will
treat plaintiffs' response to Maung's motion for
summary judgment as a motion under Rule 56(d), which
(d) When Facts Are Unavailable to the
If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for
specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to