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Ramon M. Imable-Mayorga and Flor Maria Naranjo, His Wife, Per Quod v. Stephen G. Labrie

July 27, 2011

RAMON M. IMABLE-MAYORGA AND FLOR MARIA NARANJO, HIS WIFE, PER QUOD, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STEPHEN G. LABRIE, SAINDON TOWING & TRANSPORT LLC, DARIEL J. JAMIESON, SARAH A. MICHELS, RICHARD S. CONTI, VAULT, RUPERT C. MCCLEOD, EFFICIENCY ENTERPRISES INC., AND JOHN DOES 1- 100 (NAMES BEING FICTITIOUS), DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Walls, Senior District Judge

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION and ORDER

Plaintiffs Ramon Imable-Mayorga and Flor Maria Naranjo have brought suit against, among others, Dariel Jamieson, Sarah Michels, and Rupert McCleod. Jamieson, Michels and McCleod each move for summary judgment. Pursuant to Rule 78.1 of the Local Rules, the motions are decided without oral argument. The motions on behalf of Jamieson and McCleod are granted. The motion on behalf of Michels is denied.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 11, 2008, plaintiff Ramon Imable-Mayorga, defendants Stephan Labrie, Dariel Jamieson, Sarah Michels, Rupert McCleod and former defendant Richard Conti*fn1 were involved in a multi-car collision on the New Jersey Turnpike. Dariel Jamieson drove the lead vehicle in the crash. At some point, the vehicle in front of Jamieson came to a stop. In response, Jamieson braked. She claims that her vehicle came to a complete stop without striking the vehicle in front of her. (Def. Michels' Ex. B, Jamieson Dep. 24:10-24:13, Dec. 20, 2010.) The rear of Jamieson's vehicle was then struck two times by the vehicle driven by defendant Sarah Michels. (Def. Michels' Ex. B, Jamieson Dep. 25:15-25:24, Dec. 20, 2010.) Michels believes that the force of her car hitting Jamieson's vehicle may have pushed Jamieson's car forward into the vehicle in front of it. (Def. Michels' Ex. C, Michels Dep. 39:14-39:17, Mar. 10, 2011.) Jamieson denies any contact between her vehicle and the vehicle in front her. (Def. Michels' Ex. B, Jamieson Dep. 32:22-33:1, Dec. 20, 2010.)

Michels claims that when she saw Jamieson's vehicle stop in front of her, she began to safely bring her car to a stop. She alleges that while her vehicle was decelerating, the truck driven by the Imable-Mayorga collided with her from behind, and that the force of this collision pushed her car into Jamieson's car. (Def. Michels' Ex. C, Michels Dep. 33:16-33:20, Mar. 10, 2011.) Plaintiff, however, claims that Michels' vehicle had already struck Jamieson's vehicle before he "rear-ended" her. (Def. Michels' Ex. D, Imable-Mayorga Dep. 47:1-47:27, Dec. 20, 2010.) The police report quotes Michels as stating, in effect, that, "I tried to stop but it was too late, then I got hit." (Def. Michels' Ex. A, New Jersey Police Crash Investigation Report, June 11, 2008.)

Michels claims that she was hit a total of three times, twice by the tractor-trailer driven by Imable-Mayorga and once by the loaded car carrier driven by Labrie. (Def. Michels' Ex. C, Michels Dep. 47:3-47:18, Mar. 10, 2011.) Michels alleges that the first hit by Imable-Mayorga pushed her into the rear of Jamieson's vehicle and that the force of the second hit by Imable-Mayorga propelled her into another lane without touching Jamieson's vehicle. (Def. Michels'

Ex. C, Michels Dep. 40:19-40:24, Mar. 10, 2011.) Michels claims that the third time she was hit was by the carrier driven by Labrie. (Def. Michels' Ex. C, Michels Dep. 47:8-47:14, Mar. 10, 2011.) Labrie asserts that before his car carrier hit Imable-Mayorga's tractor-trailer, ImableMayorga had already hit Michels' vehicle. (Def. Michels' Ex. E, Labrie Dep. 54:1-54:15, Dec. 20, 2010.)

The police report states that McCleod's vehicle was struck in the rear by Conti's vehicle, which lost control after it was pushed into the median by Labrie's vehicle. Alternatively, McCleod places himself in front of Labrie at the time of accident. (Def. McCleod's Ex. F, McCleod Dep. 26:1-26:9 Dec. 21, 2010.) McCleod's testimony is contrary to both the police report and the other depositions. In any event, there is no testimony that McCleod was involved in the accident in any way other than being struck from behind.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party establishes that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [it] is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A factual dispute between the parties will not defeat a motion for summary judgment unless it is both genuine and material. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007);

Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The moving party must show that the non-moving party has failed to "set forth," by affidavits or otherwise, "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." See Beard v. Banks, 548 U.S. 521, 529 (2006) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)).

Once the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts" in question. Scott, 550 U.S. at 380 (citing Matsushita Elec. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)). At the summary judgment stage, the court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but rather to determine whether there is a genuine issue of fact for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. In so doing, the court must construe the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Curley v. Klem, 298 F.3d 271, 277 (3d Cir. 2002). To survive a motion for summary judgment, a non-movant must present more than a mere "scintilla of evidence" in his favor. ...


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