Propst v. HWS Co.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
Citation148 F.Supp.3d 506
Decision Date07 December 2015
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION NO. 5:14–CV–00079–RLV–DCK
Parties Arnold Propst, Plaintiff, v. HWS Company, Inc.; and Sherrill Furniture Company, Defendants.

148 F.Supp.3d 506

Arnold Propst, Plaintiff,
HWS Company, Inc.; and Sherrill Furniture Company, Defendants.


United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division .

Signed December 7, 2015

148 F.Supp.3d 510

Vicki Brown Rowan, Attorney at Law, Denver, NC, for Plaintiff.

Julie K. Adams, Littler Mendelson PC, Charlotte, NC, for Defendants.


Richard L. Voorhees, United States District Judge

THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 16), Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Declaration of William Smith (Doc. No. 17), and Plaintiff's Motion to Strike the Declaration of Jimmie Link (Doc. No. 18). Because the parties' submissions are filed and pending, they are now each ripe for this Court's review.

After a thorough examination of the record, the parties' briefs, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (“Defendants' Motion”) and DENIES Plaintiff's Motions to Strike. Accordingly, judgment shall be entered by the Clerk in favor of the Defendants for the reasons discussed more thoroughly below.


Before analyzing the merits of the Defendants' Motion, the Court must first discuss the Plaintiff's motions to strike the declarations of William Smith and Jimmie Link—declarations which the Defendants submitted in support of their Motion. See [Doc. No. 17]; [Doc. No. 18]. In his motions to strike, the Plaintiff raises numerous argumentative objections to the Defendants' submissions. The Court declines to address each of the Plaintiff's challenges, or to issue a separate order respecting the same, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, a slew of Plaintiff's objections (and Defendants' submissions) are wholly irrelevant to the ultimate issues pending before the Court. The parties have seemingly gone to great lengths to place before this Court every fact produced during discovery, either in support of Defendants' Motion or in opposition to it, whether those facts are relevant to the Motion or not. The parties are reminded that, on a motion for summary judgment, the only matter of consequence is whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact . See , e.g. , Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(a). The Court does not concern itself with irrelevant matters—such as, for example, the history of Hickory White since the early 1900s—and neither should the parties.1 Because the Court is fully capable of trimming the fat from the parties' briefs, the Court declines to engage in an exhaustive analysis of each and every objection made to the Defendants' evidentiary submissions. See , e.g. , Wane v. Loan Corp. , 926 F.Supp.2d 1312, 1317–18 (M.D.Fla.2013) (“This Court is capable of separating the wheat from the chaff on a motion for summary judgment ....”); Jennison v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co. , 2011 WL 3352449, at *3, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85623, at *9–10 (N.D.N.Y.2011) ; Carone v. Mascolo , 573 F.Supp.2d 575, 580 (D.Conn.2008) (“The parties to an action should have faith that

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the court knows the difference between admissible and non-admissible evidence, and would not base a summary judgment decision simply upon the self-serving ipse dixit of a particular party.” (internal citations and quotation marks omitted)); accord Smith v. N.Y. Times , 1996 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21013, at *5 (D.S.C.1996) (“Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.” (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1987) )); Holsey v. Collins , 90 F.R.D. 122, 123 n. 2 (D.Md.1981) (noting that the Court is under no “duty to expend [its] resources by sorting through irrelevant submissions.”).

Second, throughout the motions to strike, the Plaintiff has attempted to wedge-in additional summary judgment arguments that were not expressly contained in, or elaborated upon, in his opposition brief to the Defendants' Motion. “It is not this court's responsibility to research and construct the parties' arguments[.]” See Draper v. Martin , 664 F.3d 1110, 1114 (7th Cir.2011). Aside from the fact that, for all practical purposes, this type of “incorporation by reference” allows the Plaintiff to skirt the page limitations imposed by this Court's local rules, see LCvR 7.1(D), W.D.N.C., Plaintiff has essentially asked this Court to read everything it has filed and, after doing so, construct a coherent argument against the Defendants' Motion—a task which the Plaintiff was obligated to do within his opposition brief. Accordingly, the Court will only consider Plaintiff's arguments against summary judgment to the extent they appear in Plaintiff's opposition brief, unless, as will be highlighted below, the Court considers a specific objection to evidentiary submissions on which the Court relies in ruling on the Defendants' Motion.

Third, to the extent the voluminous record contains disputes of fact, the Court will assume that those disputes are specifically highlighted by the parties' summary judgment briefs. The Court will not play “archaeologist with the record,” Arkin v. Bennett , 282 F.Supp.2d 24, 33 n. 4 (S.D.N.Y.2003), by setting out on its own treasure hunt to discover issues of fact that the parties should have brought to its attention through specific, consolidated, and concise briefing. See , e.g. , Garmin Ltd. v. TomTom, Inc. , 468 F.Supp.2d 988, 1000 (W.D.Wis.2006) (“A party opposing a motion for summary judgment must show its whole hand[.]”); see also Hammel v. Eau Galle Cheese Factory , 407 F.3d 852, 859 (7th Cir.2005) (“Summary judgment is not a dress rehearsal or practice run; it is the ‘put up or shut up’ moment in a lawsuit, when a party must show what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events.” (citation and quotation marks omitted)); Respironics, Inc. v. Invacare Corp. , 2008 WL 111983, at *4, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1174, at *10–11 (W.D.Pa.2008) ; accord Robinson v. Prince George's Cnty . , 465 Fed.Appx. 238, 240 (4th Cir.2012) (“The nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, but must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” (quotation marks and citation omitted)).

Finally, a motion to strike is no longer the favored (or authorized) method of challenging the inadmissible nature of evidentiary submissions at the summary judgment stage. Since the 2010 amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a motion to strike is technically not available to motions for summary judgment; rather, courts should treat the issues raised by such a motion as objections to the evidence and, if the Court finds the objections have merit, the improper evidence may simply be disregarded by the Court. See Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 56(c)(2) (providing that a party

148 F.Supp.3d 512

“may object” that the “material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented in a form admissible in evidence”); accord Fed. R. Civ. Pro. Adv. Comm. Notes (2010 Amendments, Subdivision (c)); see also , e.g. , OFI Int'l, Inc. v. Port Newark Refrigerated Warehouse , 2015 WL 140134, at *1–2, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2926, at *2–3 (D.N.J.2015) ; Hall v. Louisiana , 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102852 (M.D.La.2014); Chase v. Ace Hardware Corp. , 2014 WL 517488, at *7–8, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15525, at *21–22 (S.D.Ala.2014) ; Wanamaker v. Town of Westport Bd. of Educ. , 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101849, at *2–6 (D.Conn.2013); Adams v. Valega's Prof. Home Cleaning, Inc. , 2012 WL 5386028, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157550 (N.D.Ohio 2012) (collecting cases); Ankney v. Wakefield , 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64628 (W.D.Pa.2012). The objection procedure adopted by the 2010 amendment is akin to an objection made at trial, and there is no longer a need to file a separate motion to strike. Instead, unless a local rule or standing order specifies otherwise, the parties are to make their evidentiary objections within their summary judgment briefing itself. See Wanamaker , 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101849, at *5 (“If a party wishes to argue that an asserted material fact is not supported by the evidence, that party may do so in its summary judgment briefing.” (quotation marks and citation omitted)).

Consequently, the Court construes the Plaintiff's motions to strike as mere objections to certain assertions contained in the various declarations submitted in support of the Defendants' Motion. To the extent the Court relies on any of the Defendants' submissions to which an objection has been made, the Court will discuss the specific objection, as is relevant, within the body of the Order below. However, to the extent the Plaintiff requests the Court enter an order respecting each and every objection contained in his motions to strike, asks the Court to consider arguments in opposition to summary judgment that are not specifically contained in Plaintiff's opposition brief, or requests the Court to scour the voluminous record for Plaintiff, those requests are DENIED .


A. Factual Background

1. General

Plaintiff Arnold Propst is a male citizen of Burke County, North Carolina. [Doc. No. 1-1] at ¶ 1 (Complaint); [Doc. No. 4] at ¶ 1...

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