Medrano v. Fiesta Mart, LLC, Civil Action 4:21-cv-16

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
Writing for the CourtAndrew S. Hanen, United States District Judge.
PartiesANDREA MEDRANO, Plaintiff, v. FIESTA MART, LLC, Defendant.
Docket NumberCivil Action 4:21-cv-16
Decision Date12 December 2022


FIESTA MART, LLC, Defendant.

Civil Action No. 4:21-cv-16

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division

December 12, 2022


Andrew S. Hanen, United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant Fiesta Mart, LLC's (“Fiesta Mart” or “Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17). Plaintiff Andrea Medrano (“Medrano or “Plaintiff') responded in opposition (Doc. No. 23) and Defendants replied (Doc. No. 25). Having considered the Motion and the applicable law, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. Background

This case centers on a premises liability slip and fall claim that took place at a Fiesta Mart grocery store. Plaintiff initially filed this lawsuit in the 151st Judicial District Court of Harris County alleging claims for negligence, gross negligence, and premises liability. (Doc. No. 1). The facts pled in Plaintiffs Original Petition in state court are scant at best. In that petition, Plaintiff alleges that she was injured when she “slipped and fell on a leaf, believed to be cilantro,” while visiting the store. (Doc. No. 1-3 at 2). Defendant then removed this case to this Court. (Id.).


Defendant filed this Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate the elements of a premises liability cause of action. (Doc. No. 17 at 4). Plaintiff responded in opposition (Doc. No. 23) and Defendant replied (Doc. No. 25).

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is warranted “if 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). “The movant bears the burden of identifying those portions of the record it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Triple Tee Golf, Inc. v. Nike, Inc., 485 F.3d 253, 261 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-25 (1986)).

Once a movant submits a properly supported motion, the burden shifts to the non-movant to show that the court should not grant the motion. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 321-25. The non-movant then must provide specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute. Id. at 324; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is genuine if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court must draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party in deciding a summary judgment motion. Id. at 255. The key question on summary judgment is whether there is evidence raising an issue of material fact upon which a hypothetical, reasonable factfinder could find in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 248. It is the responsibility of the parties to specifically point the Court to the pertinent evidence, and its location, in the record that the party thinks are relevant. Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir. 2003). It is not the duty of the Court to search the record for evidence that might establish an issue of material fact. Id.


III. Analysis

Defendant moves on the basis that Plaintiff does not have any summary judgment evidence to raise an issue of material fact as to actual or constructive knowledge of the allegedly dangerous condition. (Doc. No. 17). Specifically, Defendant cites the Court to Plaintiffs deposition testimony, where she testified she slipped on a “leaf' or some form of plant matter similar to cilantro. (Medrano Depo, Doc, No. 18 at 20:19-25). The “leaf' was about the size of a nickel or quarter and it was located in the milk and frozen foods section of the Fiesta Mart. (Id. at 21:1-6). Despite the fact that she was present in the area where she slipped for some time before the accident, Plaintiff testifies in her deposition that she did not sec the substance before she slipped on it. (Id. at 10:24-25, 11:1-11, 25:1-24). Plaintiff also testified during her deposition that she did not have any knowledge that a Fiesta Mart employee knew of the existence or location of the substance before she fell. (Id. at 25:25, 26:1-8). Furthermore, while there was an employee in the general area, Plaintiff conceded that the employee did not see Plaintiff fall--he only observed her or heard her after the fall took place. (Id. at 15:13-20). Plaintiff also testified that she had no knowledge that any of Defendant's employees or personnel knew of the substance on the floor before she fell. (Id. at 25:25, 26:1-8). Finally, Plaintiff noted in her testimony that there was a skid mark on the floor that indicated that the leaf or substance on the ground was what she had allegedly slipped on. (Id. at 21:4-25,22:1 -4). The relevant portion of her testimony concerning the skid mark is reproduced below:

Q: And you can see just below [the organic vegetable manner] a -what looks like a skid mark
A: Correct
Q: Do you believe that's where your left - was it your left foot that slipped on it?
A: Yeah, the left.
Q: Okay. So you believe that's where your left foot came down on that substance that caused you to slip forward

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