United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Moses Perez and Dee Perez sued K&B Transportation Inc.
and Kiara Wharton for injuries Perez suffered after a
collision on Interstate 294 on January 20,
2016. The case was removed to this Court based
on diversity jurisdiction. (Dkt. 1). Plaintiffs’
amended complaint alleges negligence (Count I), willful and
wanton conduct (Counts II and V), vicarious liability (Count
III), negligent safety culture (Count IV), loss of consortium
(Counts VI and VII), and Family Medical Expense Act (Count
VIII). (Dkt. 37). Defendants moved for summary judgment on
all counts. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for
summary judgment  is granted.
January 20, 2016 around 5:18 am, Perez and Wharton were both
driving eastbound on Interstate 294 in Thornton, Illinois
when Wharton’s commercial truck collided into
Perez’s Ford Explorer car. Plaintiffs claim that Perez
suffered serious physical and emotional injuries as a result.
undisputed that Perez was ahead of Wharton in the same right
I-Pass lane as her, that icy conditions caused Perez’s
car to spin out before Wharton’s truck ran into him,
and that Perez has no recollection of Wharton’s truck
before the moment of the collision. (Dkt. 93, ¶¶14,
27; Dkt. 82, ¶¶9, 11). Although Wharton did not
know how fast she was driving before the accident, it is
undisputed that her truck was in third or fourth gear at the
time of the accident. (Dkt. 93, ¶¶8, 13). The
parties also agree that the relevant speed limit was 55 miles
per hour. (Id. ¶ 22).
were only two witnesses to the accident: Perez and Wharton.
The other Plaintiff, Dee Perez, Moses’ wife, was not
with him at the time of the accident. Other witnesses in the
case are Claudio Lauciello, who saw both vehicles that
morning but did not see the accident, Matthew Tipton, safety
and compliance manager at K&B, and Chris Schrunk, night
supervisor at K&B. Plaintiffs also submitted two expert
reports. For the reasons discussed below, the Court declines
to consider their opinions in deciding the summary judgment
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is proper where “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); see also Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A genuine factual
dispute exists when there is enough evidence that a
reasonable jury could find in favor of the nonmoving party.
Whiting v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 839 F.3d
658, 661 (7th Cir. 2016); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In construing the
evidence and facts supported by the record in favor of the
non-moving party, the Court gives the non-moving party
“the benefit of reasonable inferences from the
evidence, but not speculative inferences in [its]
favor.” White v. City of Chi., 829 F.3d 837,
841 (7th Cir. 2016) (internal citations omitted).
judgment is proper 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 the party
will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; see also White,
829 F.3d at 841 (summary judgment warranted where a
reasonable juror could not find in favor of the non-moving
party “on the evidence submitted in support of and
opposition to the motion for summary judgment.”)
(internal citation omitted).
case is about an unfortunate accident on Interstate 294 on an
early winter morning. Plaintiffs cannot survive summary
judgment because the evidence shows, as Perez admitted both
right after the accident and in his deposition, that icy
conditions caused his car to spin out of control. Plaintiffs
have not provided any evidence that Wharton drove negligently
or with intentional or reckless disregard for others.
Plaintiffs’ Experts Adam Grill and Mike
submitted reports from commercial motor vehicle expert Adam
Grill and accident reconstruction expert Mike DiTallo.
Although factual disputes on summary judgment are resolved
against the movant, “the question of admissibility of
expert testimony is not such an issue of fact.”
Gen. Elec. Co. v. Joiner, 522 U.S. 136, 143 (1997).
See also Lewis v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., 561 F.3d
698, 704-05 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[W]e have repeatedly
affirmed district courts that have made evidentiary rulings
on proposed expert testimony in conjunction with summary
judgment orders.”). Having reviewed the experts’
reports and depositions, the Court declines to consider their
testimony in deciding the summary judgment motion.
admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal
Rules of Evidence 702 and 703 and the Supreme Court’s
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579
(1993) decision. In a three-step analysis, courts assess
“whether the witness is qualified; whether the
expert’s methodology is scientifically reliable; and
whether the testimony will assist the trier of fact to
understand the evidence or to determine a fact in
issue.” Gopalratnam v. Hewlett-Packard Co.,
877 F.3d 771, 779 (7th Cir. 2017) (internal citations and
quotations omitted). The burden is on the party seeking to
admit the expert to show by a preponderance of the evidence
that the expert satisfies Rule 702 and Daubert.
Id. at 782. In their gatekeeping role, district
courts have “significant discretion under the flexible
Daubert inquiry.” Lapsley v. Xtek,
Inc., 689 F.3d 802, 818 (7th Cir. 2012).
do not challenge the experts’ qualifications, but argue
that their opinions are speculative conclusions not based on
the facts of the case. (Dkt. 110). The Court agrees.
Plaintiffs have not met their burden to establish the
admissibility of the opinions. Rule 702 requires expert
testimony to be based on sufficient facts or data, to be the
product of reliable principles and methods, and to show that
the expert reliably applied the principles and methods to the
facts of the case. Fed.R.Evid. 702.
report (Dkt. 109-1, Exh. J) states that he reviewed
“information” without providing specifics. The
report cites to a number of regulations and trucking
guidelines, but the only case-specific evidence it references
is Trooper Kenny’s crash report. Grill draws
conclusions such as that Wharton “failed to look far
enough ahead to perceive any road hazards in front of
her”, “failed to keep a safe and adequate
distance between herself and the Perez vehicle”, and