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Interlante v. Target Corporation

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 26, 2014

FRANK INTERLANTE, Plaintiff,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

David M. Cedar, Esquire, Cedar Law Firm, LLC, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Attorney for Plaintiff Frank Interlante.

Polly N. Phillippi, Esquire, Kantrowitz & Phillippi, Ewing, New Jersey, Attorney for Defendant Target Corporation.

OPINION

NOEL L. HILLMAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendant Target Corporation's motion [Doc. No. 16] seeking summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 and to bar Plaintiff's expert report in this matter. The Court has considered the parties' submissions and decides this matter pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

For the reasons expressed below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be denied.

I. JURISDICTION

The Court exercises jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on diversity of citizenship between the parties and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000. Plaintiff Frank Interlante is a citizen of the state of New Jersey. (See Am. Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 6] ¶ 5.) Defendant Target Corporation (hereinafter, "Target") is incorporated under the laws of the state of Minnesota and maintains its principal place of business in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Id. ¶ 4.) Therefore, Target is a citizen of the state of Minnesota. See Swiger v. Allegheny Energy, Inc. , 540 F.3d 179, 182 (3d Cir. 2008) ("A corporation is a citizen both of the state where it is incorporated and of the state where it has its principal place of business.") (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)). Accordingly, complete diversity of citizenship exists between the parties in this action and it appears the amount in controversy is in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff originally filed the complaint in this negligence action on December 14, 2012 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County. (Pl.'s Compl. [Doc. No. 1] ¶ 1; see also Def.'s Statement of Facts [Doc. No. 16] (hereinafter, "Def.'s SOF"), ¶ 1.)[1] Target subsequently removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 8; Def.'s SOF ¶ 2.) Plaintiff's complaint against Target alleges that on June 15, 2012, Plaintiff, as a "business invitee[, ]" was "lawfully on the premises of Target" at Store Number 1389, [2] located at 1900 Deptford Center Road, Deptford, New Jersey for the purposes of exchanging items in the pharmacy department. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5; Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 1, 4A.)

Plaintiff represents that while he was exiting the store "via the designated right side exit door" and walking out, another person was entering through the same exit door. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 6; Def.'s SOF ¶ 4B.) "In an effort to avoid the entering person, [P]laintiff was forced to walk to the right along the exterior wall of the exit way." (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 6; see also Def.'s SOF ¶ 4B.) Plaintiff alleges that when he "reached the right building corner adjacent to the exit walkway[, ]" he "felt his right shoe and his right pants leg catch on something that cause him to trip, stumble, and fall forward." (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 6; see also Def.'s SOF ¶ 4B-D.) Although Plaintiff apparently tried to "arrest his fall by reaching out with his hands, " Plaintiff was not able "to stop himself, falling to his knees and violently hitting the walkway surface with his hands" resulting in injury. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 6.)

Plaintiff went to Target that day with Karen DiPol, and although she did not witness Plaintiff fall, Plaintiff went back into the store after his fall and told DiPol that "people were entering through the exit door and he had to go a little to the right and the curb caught his pants and shoe." (Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 5A-5E.) Plaintiff subsequently showed Glenn Denny, a Target employee, the location of where Plaintiff tripped and told Denny that he fell because the curb "grabbed [his] pants." (Id. ¶¶ 6A-D.) At the time of his fall, Plaintiff completed and signed a Guest Incident Report wherein he described the incident by explaining "he caught his pant on cement and fell." (Id. ¶ 7.) A few days after his fall, Plaintiff received a telephone call from a Target employee at which time he gave a recorded statement. (Id. ¶ 4E.) Plaintiff reviewed the written version of his statement and verified that it set forth the information he provided during the telephone call. (Id.) In that recorded statement, Plaintiff again explained that "concrete broken out" at the corner of the building in the exit way "tugged [his] pants and got my two feet together and I went down." (Id. ¶ 8A.)

Plaintiff asserts a negligence claim against Target asserting that Target breached a duty of care owed to him, as a business invitee, by creating, causing and permitting to exist a dangerous and hazardous condition on the premises of the Target store in question. (Pl.'s Compl. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff alleges that due to this breach, Plaintiff suffered serious physical and personal injuries resulting in medical expenses, pain, suffering, inconvenience, embarrassment, lost wages, and other economic losses. (Id. ¶¶ 9-11.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment ...


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