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Wiesner v. Fontaine Trailer Company

July 30, 2010

DARRIN S. WIESNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FONTAINE TRAILER COMPANY, INC., DEFENDANT & THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF
v.
KLOS TRUCKING, INC. THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen United States District Judge

Wayne R. Andersen District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Fontaine Trailer Company, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment [126] and motion to strike [137] certain numbered paragraphs from Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts. Plaintiff Darrin S. Wiesner filed a single strict product liability claim in tort against Defendant alleging Defendant's product, tractor-trailer equipment used to secure heavy loads during transport, caused Plaintiff's injuries because Defendant did not provide adequate warnings about the product's alleged unreasonably dangerous propensities when used in a foreseeable manner. Defendant, on the other hand, denies manufacturing or selling the product at issue and argues Plaintiff has not offered any evidence to show Defendant caused Plaintiff's injuries. For the reasons that follow, this Court grants Defendant's motion to strike [137] and motion for summary judgment [126].

BACKGROUND

The following facts are not in dispute. Defendant is a manufacturer of flat bed trailers for commercial customers. Plaintiff is a commercial tractor-trailer driver previously employed by Third Party Defendant Klos Trucking. On May 6, 2004, Plaintiff was tasked with transporting 14 to 16 railroad-car wheel assemblies, each weighing 3,000 pounds, using a flat bed trailer (the Trailer) manufactured by Defendant. After the wheel assemblies were loaded onto the Trailer, Plaintiff secured the wheel assemblies by wrapping two chains around the wheel assemblies and securing the chains with four chain tie-downs that were installed on the Trailer. Plaintiff during his pre-trip inspection "did not see anything that didn't look right."

While driving the tractor-trailer loaded with the wheel assemblies, Plaintiff came to a stop and heard a "boom." Plaintiff exited the tractor-trailer and noticed that one of the chain tie-downs "popped out" (the Tie-Down), thereby allowing several wheel assemblies to crash into the cab of the tractor-trailer. Plaintiff claims various injuries as a result of this incident.

In May 2006, Plaintiff filed a product liability lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois against Fontaine Trucking Equipment Company claiming the Tie-Down caused Plaintiff's injuries. In September 2006, Plaintiff also joined Defendant and asserted a product liability claim against Defendant claiming Defendant, as manufacturer of the Trailer, was liable for injuries caused by the Tie-Down. Fontaine Trucking Equipment Company subsequently removed Plaintiff's suit to federal court and on December 18, 2007, this Court dismissed with prejudice Plaintiff's claims against Fontaine Trucking Equipment Company because Fontaine Trucking Equipment Company "has not designed, prepared, or manufactured flatbed trailers." Plaintiff did not object to this dismissal. Defendant then joined Klos Trucking as a Third Party Defendant asserting that Klos Trucking was at least partially liable for any damages Defendants must pay as a result of Plaintiff's claim.

While both parties agree Defendant manufactured the Trailer used by Plaintiff, they disagree about whether Defendant sold the Tie-Down. Furthermore, neither party can currently locate the Tie-Down used at the time of the incident. However, Plaintiff argues the other tie-downs still installed on the Trailer are all identical and were all purchased from Defendant. Thus, Plaintiff claims that it can be reasonably inferred that Defendant sold the Tie-Down.

To support Plaintiff's argument, Plaintiff asserts the following in Paragraph 7 of Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts:

7. The Fontaine trailer was sold to Klos Trucking with nineteen tie-downs installed on it. Plaintiff supports Paragraph 7 with an order form (the Order Form) that purports to describe the sale of four trailers to Klos Trucking. The Order Form is titled "ILoca Services" and lists "Klos Trucking" as the customer. The "make" of the trailers, according to The Order Form, is "Fontaine Trailer." In the section of the Order Form titled "comments," there are handwritten notes stating "Trailers include 19 pair of popup chain tie downs each." While the Order Form includes the model of the trailers, it does not appear to include any vehicle identification numbers that would indicate the Order Form describes the Trailer. Plaintiff does not include any affidavits or depositions authenticating or introducing the Order Form.

In further support of Plaintiff's claim that Defendant sold the Tie-Down, Plaintiff asserts the following in Paragraph 8 of Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts:

8. The tie-downs installed on the subject trailer were purchased from Fontaine Trailer Company.

Plaintiff supports Paragraph 8 with a copy of a letter (the Letter) from Plaintiff's counsel to Defendant's counsel stating Plaintiff's counsel intends to call the salesperson at ILoca Services who sold the Trailer at issue to Klos Trucking. According to the Letter, this salesperson would testify that ILoca Services installed the tie-downs on the Trailer and the tie-downs were purchased from Defendant.

Defendant, on the other hand, disagrees and filed this motion for summary judgment claiming Plaintiff offers no admissible evidence that creates any inference Defendant sold the Tie-Down. Specifically, Defendant argues Plaintiff's exhibits supporting Plaintiff's assertions in Paragraphs 7 and 8 of Plaintiff's Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) Statement of ...


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