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Burychka v. Beachcomber Campground, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

June 14, 2019

JOHNE BURYCHKA, Plaintiff,
v.
BEACHCOMBER CAMPGROUND, INC., Defendant.

          ROSENBAUM & ASSOCIATES, John F. Hanahan, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff Johne Burychka

          CONNOR WEBER & OBERLIES, P.C. Michael S. Mikulski, II, Counsel for Defendant Beachcomber Campground, Inc.

          OPINION

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Johne Burychka (“Plaintiff”) brings this personal injury action against Defendant Beachcomber Campground, Inc.

         (“Defendant”) based on injuries sustained when Plaintiff slipped and fell on an allegedly wet surface in the men's restroom near the pool at Defendant's campground. This matter now comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. No. 32]. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, however, this Court shall permit Defendant to refile its motion as indicated in this Opinion.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On the morning of July 31, 2016, Plaintiff visited Defendant's Beachcomber Campground in Cape May, New Jersey, intending to spend a few days with his brother and his brother's wife, who were members of the campground. That morning, Plaintiff and his brother spent about an hour lounging by the pool. At approximately 12:30 p.m., Plaintiff went to use the bathroom facilities adjacent to the pool. Upon entering the men's restroom, Plaintiff alleges that he immediately slipped and fell on a wet floor. As a result of his fall, Plaintiff alleges that he sustained a hip fracture that required surgery.

         Plaintiff contends that he did not notice any “standing water” on the floor when he entered the bathroom, but that after his fall, he observed that the tile floor was visibly wet “as if the floor was recently mopped.” After his fall, Plaintiff claims that he was assisted by a security guard and a lifeguard, both of whom allegedly filled out written reports about the incident. Although Plaintiff initially declined an ambulance, after Plaintiff's pain did not subside, an ambulance was eventually called to assist Plaintiff.

         On May 22, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendant, arguing that Defendant is responsible for the injuries suffered when he slipped on the bathroom floor. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant breached its duty of care by failing to maintain the bathroom floor in a safe condition. Now, this matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment shall be granted if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” only if it might impact the “outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Gonzalez v. Sec'y of Dept of Homeland Sec., 678 F.3d 254, 261 (3d Cir. 2012). A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to find for the nonmoving party. Id.

         In determining the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact, a court's role is not to weigh the evidence; all reasonable inferences and doubts should be resolved in favor of the nonmoving party. Melrose, Inc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 613 F.3d 380, 387 (3d Cir. 2010). However, a mere “scintilla of evidence, ” without more, will not give rise to a genuine dispute for trial. Saldana v. Kmart Corp., 260 F.3d 228, 232 (3d Cir. 2001). Moreover, a court need not adopt the version of facts asserted by the nonmoving party if those facts are “utterly discredited by the record [so] that no reasonable jury” could believe them. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). In the face of such evidence, summary judgment is still appropriate “where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Walsh v. Krantz, 386 Fed.Appx. 334, 338 (3d Cir. 2010).

         The movant has the initial burden of showing through the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and any affidavits “that the non-movant has failed to establish one or more essential elements of its case.” Connection Training Servs. v. City of Phila., 358 Fed.Appx. 315, 318 (3d Cir. 2009). “If the moving party meets its burden, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to establish that summary judgment is inappropriate.” Id. In the face of a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmovant's burden is rigorous: he “must point to concrete evidence in the record”; mere allegations, conclusions, conjecture, and speculation will not defeat summary judgment. Orsatti v. New Jersey State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 484 (3d Cir. 1995); accord. Jackson v. Danberg, 594 F.3d 210, 227 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Acumed LLC. v. Advanced Surgical Servs., Inc., 561 F.3d 199, 228 (3d Cir. 2009)(“[S]peculation and conjecture may not defeat summary judgment.”). Moreover, “the court need only determine if the nonmoving party can produce admissible evidence regarding a disputed issue of material fact at trial”; the evidence does not need to be in admissible form at the time of summary judgment. FOP v. City of Camden, 842 F.3d 231, 238 (3d Cir. 2016).

         III. ...


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