Hashi v. Parkway Xpress, LLC

Decision Date23 October 2019
Docket NumberNo. M2018-01469-COA-R3-CV,M2018-01469-COA-R3-CV
CourtTennessee Court of Appeals

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County

No. 70849

Howard W. Wilson, Judge

A forklift operator suffered injuries while operating his forklift within the confines of the trailer of a tractor-trailer. He sued the John Doe operator of the tractor-trailer, a trucking company, and a freight broker. Both the trucking company and the freight broker moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motions, dismissing the claims against them. On appeal, the forklift operator claims that some of the evidence filed in support of the motions for summary judgment was inadmissible and that there were disputed issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment. We conclude that the trial court properly granted summary judgment.

Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

W. NEAL MCBRAYER, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. MICHAEL SWINEY, C.J., and ANDY D. BENNETT, J., joined.

Vakessha Hood-Schneider, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Abdighani K. Hashi.

Michael J. Vetter, Sr. and Lance Thompson, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Parkway Xpress, LLC and Total Quality Logistics, LLC.


Abdighani Hashi loaded and unloaded tractor-trailers at Essex Technology Group's distribution center in La Vergne, Tennessee. On February 2, 2015, Mr. Hashi was using a forklift to move pallets inside a trailer when the tractor-trailer unexpectedly moved. The movement caused Mr. Hashi's forklift, along with Mr. Hashi, to fall from the trailer to the ground. The fall injured his lower back and required medical treatment.

In the Circuit Court for Rutherford County, Mr. Hashi filed suit against John Doe, the unknown driver of the tractor-trailer, Parkway Xpress, LLC, and Total Quality Logistics, LLC. The complaint alleged that John Doe was an employee of Parkway Xpress and that Parkway Xpress was vicariously liable for John Doe's negligence. The complaint described Total Quality Logistics as the "truck broker that hired Parkway Xpress . . . for the job during which [Mr. Hashi] was injured." The complaint alleged that Total Quality Logistics failed "to use due diligence in its selection, instruction, and supervision of Parkway Xpress." The complaint further alleged that Total Quality Logistics was vicariously liable for its agent Parkway Xpress.

Parkway Xpress and Total Quality Logistics filed separate motions for summary judgment. Parkway Xpress argued that summary judgment was appropriate because it was not the owner or operator of the tractor-trailer in which Mr. Hashi was working when he was injured. Parkway Xpress acknowledged making a delivery to the distribution center on February 2, but it claimed to have arrived at 6:00 a.m. and departed at 7:08 a.m. Mr. Hashi admitted that his accident occurred at 1:20 in the afternoon. Parkway Xpress also contended that the driver of the tractor-trailer in which Mr. Hashi was working was Jeremy Kie, who was not an employee of Parkway Xpress.

In support of its motion, Parkway Xpress filed the affidavit of Benjamin Kadic, the president of Parkway Xpress. He declared on personal knowledge that Parkway Xpress made its delivery to the distribution center at 6:00 a.m., departing at 7:08 a.m. Mr. Kadic also denied that Mr. Kie was a Parkway Xpress employee. Attached to the affidavit was a bill of lading showing the Parkway Xpress truck arriving at the distribution center at 6:00 a.m. and departing at 7:08 a.m. Parkway Xpress also provided business records produced by Essex Technology Group in response to a subpoena. The subpoenaed records included several incident reports identifying the driver of the tractor-trailer in which Mr. Hashi was working as Mr. Kie. Finally, Parkway Xpress provided a portion of the transcript from Mr. Hashi's deposition in which he was unable to identify the trucking company or the tractor-trailer involved in his accident.

In its motion, Total Quality Logistics claimed to be a freight broker. It explained that freight brokers contract with motor carriers to arrange for the transportation of freight at the request of customers needing such services. So "even assuming all allegations as true[,]" Total Quality Logistics would have "at most, merely contracted with the alleged John Doe truck driver's employer." It also explained that it "did not employ, control, select, or hire" the John Doe driver. Total Quality Logistics supported these assertions with the affidavit of Marc Bostwick, Total Quality Logistics' risk manager.

Mr. Hashi responded that there were genuine issues of material fact that prevented the court from granting summary judgment. He identified four. First, he contended that there was a factual dispute concerning the nature of the relationship between Total Quality Logistics and Parkway Xpress. In Mr. Hashi's words, "[j]ust because a document states that it is a 'Broker/Carrier Agreement' does not mean that there was, in fact, a broker/carrier agreement between the Defendants." Second, he contended that there was a factual dispute over Jeremy Kie's employment, despite the affidavit of Mr. Kadic. Third, he contended that there was a factual dispute over Parkway Xpress's involvement in the accident. Mr. Hashi pointed out that, when he requested a copy of any contracts between Total Quality Logistics and any other defendant "regarding the scope and use of the vehicle involved in the accident," Total Quality Logistics produced its broker/carrier agreement with Parkway Xpress. Finally, he disputed whether Total Quality Logistics had an agency relationship with the driver involved in the accident.

In responding, Mr. Hashi relied on the response of Total Quality Logistics to one of his requests for production of documents and a bill of lading Parkway Xpress filed in support of its motion for summary judgment. Mr. Hashi also made several evidentiary objections to submissions of Parkway Xpress and Total Quality Logistics. He challenged both affidavits and the documents subpoenaed from Essex Technology Group.

The trial court granted summary judgment to both Parkway Xpress and Total Quality Logistics. As to Parkway Xpress, the court found that Mr. Hashi "was allegedly injured at 1:20 a.m." and that "Parkway Xpress arrived at the distribution center at approximately 6:00 a.m. . . . and departed at approximately 7:08 a.m." The court also found that "Jeremy Kie was the driver of the truck that was allegedly involved in the Plaintiff's accident[,]" and that Jeremy Kie was not "an employee of Parkway Xpress." The court concluded that Parkway Xpress was "not a responsible party, was not involved in [Mr. Hashi's] accident, and [was] not liable to" Mr. Hashi. And the court concluded that Total Quality Logistics could not "be liable to Mr. Hashi because [Total Quality Logistics] did not employ, control, select, or hire the driver that allegedly caused [Mr. Hashi's] accident." The court also certified the judgment as final. See Tenn. R. Civ. P. 54.02.


On appeal, Mr. Hashi claims summary judgment was inappropriate "because there were genuine issues of material facts in dispute and the evidence used to support said motions was inadmissible." Summary judgment may be granted only "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 a judgment as a matter of law." Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.04. The party moving for summary judgment has "the burden of persuading the court that no genuine material factual issues exist and that it is, therefore, entitled to judgment as amatter of law." Byrd v. Hall, 847 S.W.2d 208, 211 (Tenn. 1993). If the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to "demonstrate . . . that there is a genuine, material fact dispute to warrant a trial." Id.

Here, the parties moving for summary judgment do not bear the burden of proof at trial. Thus, the burden of production could be satisfied "either (1) by affirmatively negating an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party's evidence at the summary judgment stage is insufficient to establish the nonmoving party's claim or defense." Rye v. Women's Care Ctr. of Memphis, MPLLC, 477 S.W.3d 235, 264 (Tenn. 2015). Satisfying this burden requires more than a "conclusory assertion that summary judgment is appropriate," rather the movant must set forth specific material facts as to which the movant contends there is no dispute. Id.

If a motion for summary judgment is properly supported, the nonmoving party must then come forward with something more than the allegations or denials of its pleadings. Id. at 265. The nonmoving party must "by affidavits or one of the other means provided in Rule 56, 'set forth specific facts' at the summary judgment stage 'showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. (quoting Tenn. R. Civ. P. 56.06).

A trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment enjoys no presumption of correctness on appeal. Martin v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 271 S.W.3d 76, 84 (Tenn. 2008); Blair v. W. Town Mall, 130 S.W.3d 761, 763 (Tenn. 2004). We review the summary judgment decision as a question of law. Martin, 271 S.W.3d at 84; Blair, 130 S.W.3d at 763. Accordingly, we must review the record de novo and make a fresh determination of whether the requirements of Tennessee Rule 56 have been met. Eadie v. Complete Co., 142 S.W.3d 288, 291 (Tenn. 2004); Blair, 130 S.W.3d at 763. We consider each motion for summary judgment separately.

A. Parkway Xpress

Mr. Hashi's claims against Parkway Xpress are premised on the allegation that the driver of the tractor-trailer was Parkway Xpress's employee and operating the tractor-trailer with its...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT