Poplaski v. Lamphere, No. 87-479

Docket NºNo. 87-479
Citation152 Vt. 251, 565 A.2d 1326
Case DateAugust 04, 1989
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 1326

565 A.2d 1326
152 Vt. 251
Anna POPLASKI, Individually and as Administratrix of the
Estate of Stanley J. Poplaski, Jr.
v.
Mark K. LAMPHERE, Mary P. Chesley, Administratrix of the
Estate of George W. Chesley, International
Business Machines Corp., Michael
Lamphere, and Andrea Lamphere.
No. 87-479.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
Aug. 4, 1989.

Page 1327

[152 Vt. 252] John H. Bloomer of Bloomer & Bloomer, P.C., Rutland, for plaintiff-appellant.

John D. Monahan, Jr. and Robert L. Sand of Dinse, Erdmann & Clapp, Burlington, for defendant-appellee.

Before [152 Vt. 251] PECK, GIBSON and DOOLEY, JJ., SPRINGER, District Judge (Ret.), and CONNARN, District Judge (Ret.), Specially Assigned.

[152 Vt. 252] GIBSON, Justice.

Plaintiff appeals the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of defendant International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). We affirm.

The facts stated by the trial court in its opinion are not in controversy. On the morning of March 25, 1984, plaintiff's husband was the passenger in a car being driven by George W. Chesley, whose estate is a named defendant. While driving down Route 2A in the town of St. George, their car was struck by an automobile driven by defendant Mark Lamphere. Both Poplaski and Chesley died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision.

On the evening before the accident, defendant Lamphere attended a party hosted by his brother and sister-in-law, defendants Michael and Andrea Lamphere. During the course of the evening and into Sunday morning, March 25th, he drank by his own admission approximately twelve beers. He left the party at 4:00 in the morning and returned home. About two hours later,

Page 1328

Lamphere left his house and drove to the IBM plant, where he was employed as a test-equipment maintenance[152 Vt. 253] technician, in order to work an overtime shift scheduled for 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

When he got to work at 6:30 a.m., Lamphere did not report to a supervisor; he stated in his deposition that he was not required to do so. Instead, he spoke with one or two co-workers and checked a computer printout to see if any test equipment needed maintenance. None did. About two hours later, there still being no equipment in need of work, Lamphere decided to go home because he was not feeling well. He did not seek permission to do so from supervisory personnel; instead, he told one of his co-workers that he wanted to leave. The co-worker assured Lamphere that he could cover the remainder of the shift. The accident between Lamphere, who was driving his own car, and the car driven by Chesley occurred while Lamphere was on his way home.

Plaintiff sued Lamphere, Chesley's estate, the hosts of the party at which Lamphere became intoxicated (Michael and Andrea Lamphere), and IBM, Lamphere's employer. The cause of action against IBM was premised on three theories of negligence:

(1) IBM "negligently directed or negligently allowed" Lamphere to leave the plant when it knew or should have known of his intoxicated state;

(2) IBM negligently exercised control over Lamphere; and

(3) IBM negligently entrusted Lamphere with the operation of an automobile when it knew or should have known of his intoxication.

IBM moved for summary judgment, asserting that there was no genuine issue as to any material fact and that, as a matter of law, none of the evidence produced by plaintiff supported the existence of negligence on IBM's part. V. R.C.P. 56(c). The trial court granted the motion, and plaintiff appeals.

The primary issue on appeal, as framed by plaintiff, is whether an employer can be held responsible in a negligence action where its employee has been allowed to leave the workplace in an intoxicated state. As a side issue, plaintiff contends that she was precluded from obtaining full discovery in the form of depositions prior to the trial court's decision on the motion for summary judgment. We will address the latter issue first.

[152 Vt. 254] I.

Plaintiff contends that the grant of summary judgment was erroneous as a matter of law because she had raised issues of fact in her pleadings and deposition of defendant Mark Lamphere, portions of which were submitted to the trial court in response to IBM's motion. In addition, plaintiff argues that she was not allowed to complete discovery before the court ruled on that motion, so that it did not consider the depositions of other IBM employees in making its decision. Those depositions, she claims, also raise issues of fact which should have precluded summary judgment.

The complaint in this case was filed on March 24, 1986. IBM's motion for summary judgment was not filed until November of that year, more than seven months later, and well after discovery had been embarked upon by the various defendants. A pretrial conference was held in late November, at which time a discovery schedule was adopted by all attorneys and incorporated into a pretrial order. That agreement provided that all depositions were to be completed by August 1, 1987 and that IBM's motion for summary judgment would be set for hearing after that date. On December 8, 1986, the court notified the parties that the summary judgment hearing was scheduled for August 4, 1987.

Despite this pretrial order, plaintiff deposed only defendant Mark Lamphere before the August 1, 1987 cutoff date. On August 3, 1987 she deposed several other IBM employees. It appears that transcripts of those depositions were not before the trial court when it decided the motion (although counsel for IBM represented at oral argument that the trial court was aware of the depositions and their content before its decision was rendered). On July

Page 1329

31, 1987, however, four days before the hearing was scheduled, plaintiff moved for a continuance so that she could have an opportunity to complete her depositions. The trial court denied the motion, concluding that "plaintiffs had ample time to develop their side of the case since IBM filed its motion" in late 1986.

Summary judgment is mandated under the plain language of V.R.C.P. 56(c) where, after an adequate time for discovery, a party "fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element" essential to his case and [152 Vt. 255] on which he has the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (construing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). * The issue here, then, is whether plaintiff had adequate time for discovery before the trial court ruled on IBM's motion for summary judgment.

V.R.C.P. 26(b)(1) specifically permits the superior court to...

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88 practice notes
  • Carl Follo, Follo Hospitality, Inc. v. Morency (In re Morency), Case No. 10-13666-JNF
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. First Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Massachusetts
    • September 18, 2015
    ...will not disturb a discretionary ruling "unless it is shown that such discretion was abused or entirely withheld," Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 255, 565 A.2d 1326, 1329 (1989), and the abuse of discretion resulted "in prejudice to [a party's] substantial rights." Boehm, 2006 VT 101, ¶......
  • Doe v. Forrest, No. 02-184.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 7, 2004
    ...sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to her case upon which she has the burden of proof. Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 254-55, 565 A.2d 1326, 1329 (1989). Plaintiff asserts several arguments on appeal in support of her contention that the trial court erred in g......
  • Casebolt v. Cowan, No. 91SC69
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 6, 1992
    ...entrustment arises when entrustor provides vehicle to entrustee, creating unreasonable risk of harm to others); Poplaski v. Lamphere, 565 A.2d 1326, 1331 (Vt.1989) (quoting section 308 and ruling on whether duty to third person was created); Huggins v. Tri-County Bonding Co., 175 W.Va. 643,......
  • Brueckner v. Norwich University, No. 97-396.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • February 5, 1999
    ...or incidental to, the scope of employment. See Anderson v. Toombs, 119 Vt. 40, 44-45, 117 A.2d 250, 253 (1955); Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 257, 730 A.2d 1091 565 A.2d 1326, 1330 (1989). Norwich concedes that cadre members acted as its agents in "indoctrinating and orienting" rooks s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
88 cases
  • Carl Follo, Follo Hospitality, Inc. v. Morency (In re Morency), Case No. 10-13666-JNF
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. First Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Massachusetts
    • September 18, 2015
    ...will not disturb a discretionary ruling "unless it is shown that such discretion was abused or entirely withheld," Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 255, 565 A.2d 1326, 1329 (1989), and the abuse of discretion resulted "in prejudice to [a party's] substantial rights." Boehm, 2006 VT 101, ¶......
  • Doe v. Forrest, No. 02-184.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • May 7, 2004
    ...sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to her case upon which she has the burden of proof. Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 254-55, 565 A.2d 1326, 1329 (1989). Plaintiff asserts several arguments on appeal in support of her contention that the trial court erred in g......
  • Casebolt v. Cowan, No. 91SC69
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 6, 1992
    ...entrustment arises when entrustor provides vehicle to entrustee, creating unreasonable risk of harm to others); Poplaski v. Lamphere, 565 A.2d 1326, 1331 (Vt.1989) (quoting section 308 and ruling on whether duty to third person was created); Huggins v. Tri-County Bonding Co., 175 W.Va. 643,......
  • Brueckner v. Norwich University, No. 97-396.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • February 5, 1999
    ...or incidental to, the scope of employment. See Anderson v. Toombs, 119 Vt. 40, 44-45, 117 A.2d 250, 253 (1955); Poplaski v. Lamphere, 152 Vt. 251, 257, 730 A.2d 1091 565 A.2d 1326, 1330 (1989). Norwich concedes that cadre members acted as its agents in "indoctrinating and orienting" rooks s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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