United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
TERENCE C. KERN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants AAA Cooper Transportation, Inc. and Major Green.
Doc. 34. Defendants seek summary judgment against Plaintiff,
Gevorg Nikoghosyan on his claim for punitive damages.
Id. Plaintiff opposes the motion. Doc. 35.
Summary Judgment Standard
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). The movant 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).
The Court resolves all factual disputes and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. However, the party opposing a motion for summary
judgment may not “rest on mere allegations” in
its complaint but must “set forth specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e). The party opposing a motion for summary
judgment must also make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of those elements essential to that party's
case. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
movant that “will not bear the burden of persuasion at
trial need not negate the nonmovant' 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, 671 (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 Thomas v. Wichita
Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 968 F.2d 1022, 1024 (10th Cir.),
cert. denied, 506 U.S. 1013 (1992)). “In a
response to a motion for summary judgment, a party cannot
rest on ignorance of facts, on speculation, or on suspicion
and may not escape summary judgment in the mere hope that
something will turn up at trial. The mere possibility that a
factual dispute may exit, without more, is not sufficient to
overcome convincing presentation by the moving party.”
Conaway v. Smith, 853 F.2d 789, 794 (10th Cir. 1988)
(internal citations omitted).
lawsuit arises from injuries Plaintiff claims to have
sustained in a collision between two tractor-trailers on
September 19, 2016. Doc. 2, Ex. 1. Both Plaintiff and
Defendant Major Green were driving semi- truck tractors
eastbound on I-44 in Craig County when Green's cell phone
rang. Doc. 34, Ex. 2, Green Dep. 62:18-63:3. Green's
phone was secured to the windshield with a cell phone holder
and he was using a hands-free headset. Id. at
42:15-53:1.; 98:20-21. Green was already speaking with
someone else at the time, and he looked over to his cell
phone for a moment to see who was calling. Id. at
62:18-63:3. When he looked back at the road, he saw that
there was a trailer close in front of him traveling at a slow
speed. Id. at 71:17-72:12. Green testified that he
looked in his wide mirrors to ensure no one was next to him
and then swerved to the left in an attempt to miss the
trailer. Id. at 62:18-63:3;101:20-23. He was unable
to avoid the trailer and collided with the left corner of it.
Id. at 101:24-102:4. The damage to Plaintiff's
trailer was minor. Ex. 3, Photo of Trailer. Plaintiff
testified that at the time of the accident, he was driving 60
to 65 m.p.h. Doc. 34, Ex. 5, 50:25-51:4. Based on the last
Qualcomm data received from the AAA semi before the
collision, it was traveling at 67 m.p.h. The speed limit
on the highway was 75 m.p.h. Doc. 34, Ex. 1.
was hauling a refrigerated load containing salad dressings
from California to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Ex.5,
Nikoghosyan Dep. 21:19-22; Ex. 6, Bills of Lading. He
testified that at the time of the collision, he was driving
at 60-65 miles per hour and did not see the AAA semi
approaching from the rear. Id. at 50:25-51:4,
55:11-14. He was wearing a seat belt and was able to bring
his semi to a controlled stop on the side of the highway
after the impact. Id. at 55:19-21; 66:17-67:2. After
coming to a controlled stop, Plaintiff was able to exit his
vehicle and speak with a police officer. Id. at
75:21-76:7. He retrieved his registration, driver's
license and insurance from his cab and provided it to the
police officer. Id. at 8):12-18. Additionally, he
told a paramedic on the scene that he was feeling okay.
Id. at 80:19-82:9. The collision report stated that
Plaintiff sustained no injury as a result of the collision.
spoke with Plaintiff at the scene of the collision, and
testified that Plaintiff told him he was okay. Ex. 2, Green
Dep. 80:7-82:9. Green testified that, at the time, Plaintiff
provided him a business card for an attorney in California.
Id. at 8:14-81:25. Green also reported that he did
not sustain any injuries in the collision. Id. at
82:15-16. In accordance with federal regulations, Green was
administered a drug test, which was negative. Id. at
114:24-115:10. After the collision, Plaintiff was able to
deliver his cargo to the designated locations. Ex. 5,
Nikoghosyan Dep. 142:11-14. None of his cargo was damaged as
a result of the collision, and none of it was refused by the
recipient. Id. at 132:2-10, 132:19-133:1.
Cooper equips its vehicles with OmniTrac, which alerts the
company when their drivers exceed the 70 mph speed limit set
by AAA Cooper. Doc. 35, Aronhalt Dep. 6:19-66:9. OmniTrac
records establish that on numerous occasions during his
employment with AAA Cooper, Green drove in excess of 70 mph.
September 29, 2016, AAA terminated Green's employment for
“(r)eckless conduct causing an accident on duty.”
Doc. 43, Ex. 1.
his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he did not think
Green intentionally collided with him. Id. at
this case is before the Court pursuant to the Court's
diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff's claims are governed
by Oklahoma law. See Martinez v. Angel Expl., LLC,
78 F.3d ...