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Northern Trust Co. v. United Parcel Service

November 13, 2007

NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY, AS GUARDIAN OF DARRELL THORNTON, A MINOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James B. Zagel United States District Judge

Judge James B. Zagel

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Northern Trust Company ("Northern Trust" or "Plaintiff") brings this multi-count complaint against the United Parcel Service ("UPS" or "Defendant") and numerous other parties. Currently before me is Defendant's motion for summary judgment on Counts I, II, IX, and X. For the reasons outlined below, Defendant's motion is granted in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Alicia Thornton, who initially filed this lawsuit,*fn1 was an employee of UPS in April, 2004. During her employment, Ms. Thornton received a basketball kit from UPS. Ms. Thornton claims that she received the item as a result of her good safety practices at work, whereas UPS contends that it was merely a gift. Either way, Ms. Thornton did not remit any monetary payment in exchange for the item, nor did UPS reap any financial benefit from this product.

UPS did not manufacture the basketball kit. UPS purchased the item from Corporate Express Promotional Marketing, Inc. (another defendant in this case). Corporate Express Promotional Marketing, Inc. purchased the item from another defendant in this matter, Hit Promotional Products, Inc. That defendant bought the item from yet another defendant, Hip Shing Co.*fn2

On April 6, 2004, Ms. Thornton's eighteen month old son, Darrell, was injured while playing with the item. A piece of the backboard broke off and entered his eye. It is that injury that forms the basis of this suit.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In determining whether any genuine issue of material fact exists, all facts must be construed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and all reasonable and justifiable inferences drawn in its favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). A material fact is genuinely in dispute when "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. at 248.

B. Products Liability

In Count I, Plaintiff seeks to recover from UPS on a theory of strict liability. The Illinois Supreme Court has adopted the strict liability doctrine found in section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Suvada v. White Motor Co., 210 N.E.2d 182 (1965) (overruled on other grounds). It says:

(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ...


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