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Munoz v. Menard, Inc.

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

July 9, 2019

PAUL MUNOZ, Plaintiff,
MENARD, INC., Defendant.


          Young B. Kim United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Paul Munoz filed this premises liability action alleging that Defendant Menard, Inc. negligently caused him to be injured when automatic sliding doors at one of its stores malfunctioned. Before the court is Menard's motion to exclude Munoz's expert, Lee E. Martin. Martin is an architect who has opined as to Menard's allegedly improper maintenance, operation, and servicing of the subject sliding entrance doors. For the following reasons, Menard's motion is granted in part and denied in part:


         The court denied Menard's summary judgment motion on April 23, 2019. (R. 49.) Detailed facts are set forth in that order. (Id.) Relevant to the present motion, Munoz claims he sustained injuries on August 21, 2017, when he was walking through automatic sliding doors to enter the garden center of a Menard store in Bradley, Illinois. Munoz claims that the sliding doors closed on him and struck his upper arms and hips. (Id. at 1-2.) The doors had been in the process of closing when Munoz placed “his foot across the threshold.” (Id. at 2 (citing R. 30, Def.'s L.R. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 10).) After the doors reopened, Munoz entered the store. (R. 37-2, Martin Rpt. at 3.)

         Munoz has disclosed a report in which architect and “safety expert” Martin submits a number of opinions, including that Menard did not properly service or maintain the doors, did not conduct required safety checks, and violated the standard of care for automatic door operation and maintenance, thereby creating a dangerous condition that caused Munoz's injuries. (R. 37-1, Martin CV at 1; R. 37-2, Martin Rpt. at 4-7.) Specifically, Martin opines that the doors “struck Munoz because the motion sensor located above the exterior doors failed to detect him as he approached the entrance in the activating zone of the doorway.” (R. 37-2, Martin Rpt. at 3.) Presence sensors also “failed to detect Munoz and hold the doors open, ” according to Martin. (Id.) Martin concludes that the doors' failure to detect Munoz constituted a defective condition, which “violated applicable codes and door industry standards, and was dangerous in a manner that caused Munoz to be injured.” (Id.)

         Martin cites codes and standards in support of his opinions. First, Martin cites the International Building Code (“IBC”), International Fire Code (“IFC”), and International Property Maintenance Code (“IPMC”), all of which the Village of Bradley adopted in 2012, according to Martin. (Id. at 4.) Martin claims that together these codes require building owners and agents to properly maintain buildings and provide “a safe, continuous and unobstructed path of travel” as a means of egress. (Id. (citing IBC §§ 1001.3, 3401.2 (2012); IFC § 1008.1.4.2 (2012); IMPC § 702.1 (2012) (internal quotations omitted).) Martin next cites an American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”)/Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (“BHMA”) standard as requiring automatic doors to have “an activating zone starting 5 [inches] from the faces of the horizontal sliding doors to a point at least 54 [inches] from the faces of the doors, and extending across the entire width of both moving door panels.” (Id. (citing ANSI/BHMA Standard A156.10 § 5.1.2 (1991)).) The ANSI/BHMA standard further requires that “a presence sensing safety device be used to prevent (a) fully open door(s) from closing when a person is in the door closing path.” (Id. at 5 (citing ANSI/BHMA Standard A156.10 § 5.2.2) (internal quotations omitted).) Finally, Martin cites materials from the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers (“AAADM”) for the proposistions that “improperly adjusted doors can cause injury and/or equipment damage” and that owners “are responsible to inspect the operation of their doors on a daily basis.” (Id. (citing AAADM manual).) Martin also refers to AAADM guidelines discussing the importance of “[p]lanned maintenance.” (Id. at 5-6 (citing AAADM circular).)

         Based upon these codes and standards, Martin concludes that if Menard had performed daily safety checks and serviced the doors annually, “it is probable that the defective and dangerous condition of the incident doors would have been identified and corrected before . . . Munoz could be struck and injured by them.” (Id. at 6.) Martin did not have personal knowledge of the doors' functioning at the time of the alleged incident. Instead, Martin formed his opinions after reviewing the following items: (1) Menard store video showing the subject incident; (2) a work order and invoice from Record Automatic Doors (“RAD”), an outside company that serviced the doors at Menard's request; (3) the complaint filed by Munoz in this matter; (4) Menard's summary judgment memorandum; and (5) deposition testimony of Munoz and Menard manager Daniel Douglas. (Id. at 2.)


         In its motion to strike, Menard asks this court to bar Martin from testifying as to his opinions about the allegedly defective and dangerous condition of the automatic doors. Menard argues that Martin's testimony fails to satisfy Federal Rule of Evidence 702, which provides that:

[a] witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion . . . if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the ...

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