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Hernandez v. Cottrell, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 31, 2014

COTTRELL, INC., Defendant.


ROBERT M. DOW, Jr., District Judge.

This is a diversity case in which Plaintiff Louis Hernandez alleges that he was injured while using a product manufactured by Defendant Cottrell, Inc. Before the Court are Defendant's motion for summary judgment [96] and Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendant's reply brief [111]. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies both motions. This matter is set for status on April 16, 2014, at 9:00 a.m.

I. Facts

The facts taken below are drawn from the parties' Local Rule 56.1 submissions and, to the extent necessary, the evidence in the record on which those submissions rely. Only properly supported facts are considered, and properly supported facts that are not disputed are taken as true for purposes of the summary judgment motion. See, e.g., F.T.C. v. Bay Area Bus. Council, Inc., 423 F.3d 627, 633 (7th Cir. 2005) ("Because of the important functions local rules like Rule 56.1 serve in organizing the evidence and identifying disputed facts, [the Seventh Circuit has] consistently upheld the district court's discretion to require strict compliance with those rules."). All facts are taken in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Swetlik v. Crawford, 738 F.3d 818, 821 (7th Cir. 2013).

Defendant Cottrell, Inc. is a citizen of Georgia. [98] ¶ 2. It is in the business of designing, manufacturing, and selling automobile transport trailers. Id. Plaintiff Louis Hernandez was employed by non-party Cassens Transport Company. [108] ¶ 2. Cassens is headquartered in Illinois. [108] ¶ 4. Plaintiff "lived in Rutherford County, Tennessee, from 2006 to the present." [98-2] at 104:22-25. He typically worked out of Cassens's terminal in Smyrna, Tennessee, but temporarily was working out of the Aurora, Illinois terminal for "more than two months" in 2008. See [98] ¶ 9; [98-2] at 102:14-20, 103:19-21; [101] ¶ 9.

On November 7, 2008, Plaintiff's assignment required him to travel to Elwood, Illinois. [108] ¶ 9. Plaintiff claims that he injured his left groin area, left shoulder, back, and other areas as a result of using Defendant's product while in Elwood, Illinois. See [108] ¶ 1. Defendant's product was titled in the State of Illinois. [108] ¶ 23. Plaintiff reported the incident to his supervisor at the Aurora terminal. [108] ¶ 11. Aside from a visit to an emergency room in Indiana, however, all of Plaintiff's subsequent medical treatment, including back and shoulder surgery, occurred in Tennessee. [98] ¶¶ 7, 10. All of Plaintiff's treating physicians and surgeons are in Tennessee, and he has filled all of his prescriptions in Tennessee. [98] ¶ 11. Plaintiff currently is looking for new employment in Tennessee. [98] ¶ 14. Plaintiff is receiving workers' compensation benefits from Illinois. [108] ¶ 18. He did not seek and has never received workers' compensation benefits from Tennessee for the November 7, 2008 incident.

Plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit alleging claims of strict products liability and negligence products liability in Illinois state court on January 29, 2010. See [1-2]. Defendant removed the case to this Court on March 9, 2010. See [1]. Defendant has moved for summary judgment on the sole ground that Plaintiff's action is untimely.

II. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if, construing all facts and drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, "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); Jajeh v. Cnty. of Cook, 678 F.3d 560, 566 (7th Cir. 2012); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the party moving for summary judgment demonstrates the absence of a disputed issue of material fact, "the burden shifts to the non-moving party to provide evidence of specific facts creating a genuine dispute." Carroll v. Lynch, 698 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2012). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if there is evidence to permit a jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Carroll, 698 F.3d at 564 (7th Cir. 2012). This Court neither judges the credibility of witnesses nor evaluates the weight of the evidence when addressing a summary judgment motion, see Gonzalez v. City of Elgin, 578 F.3d 526, 529 (7th Cir.2009); however, Rule 56(a) "mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

III. Discussion

A. Motion to Strike

Plaintiff has moved to strike Defendant's reply brief [111] on the grounds that the reply brief improperly raises new arguments in a manner that is prejudicial to Plaintiff. Defendant opposes the motion to strike [114] and seeks the costs and fees incurred in responding to it. See [114] at 4. The Court in its discretion denies both the motion and the request for fees and costs. Defendant is entitled in its reply brief to elaborate upon the arguments that it previously raised and to refute arguments raised by Plaintiff. To the extent that Defendant's reply brief raises improper arguments or injects new facts, the Court does not consider them.

B. Motion for Summary Judgment

Defendant argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiff's claim is barred by the applicable statute of limitations. [96] at 1. In Defendant's view, Plaintiff's claims "arose in" Tennessee and accordingly are subject to its one-year limitations period for personal injury claims, see Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104, by virtue of Illinois's "borrowing statute, " 735 ILCS 5/13-210. See generally [96]; [97]. Plaintiff contends that his claims "arose in" Illinois such that the applicable statute of limitations is the two-year period set ...

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