United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee
JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY U.S. Magistrate Judge
before the court is the Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment (Docket No. 30) with supporting memorandum (Docket
No. 31). Plaintiff has filed a response in opposition (Docket
No. 34) and Defendants have filed a reply (Docket No. 43).
For the reasons stated herein, the Defendants' motion is
action arises out of a motor vehicle collision that occurred
on Interstate 24 in Rutherford County, Tennessee on March 4,
2015. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant Williams failed to
maintain proper control of his vehicle and caused the
collision by entering her lane of travel and striking her
vehicle from the side. Defendants dispute that Williams is
responsible for the collision and assert that the Plaintiff
negligently drove her vehicle into his lane of traffic and as
a result of the Plaintiff's sudden actions Williams was
unable to avoid sideswiping her vehicle. Plaintiff suffered
injuries as a result of the collision and was taken to a
local hospital where she was treated for those injuries. It
was noted in the medical records that while she was awake,
her mental status was altered and she was unable to provide
reliable medical history due to the trauma of the accident.
trooper with the Tennessee Highway Patrol responded to the
site of the collision and prepared a report wherein he
indicated that the Plaintiff made an abrupt maneuver to turn
back onto Interstate 24 from an exit lane and that the
Defendant was unable to avoid Plaintiff's vehicle
resulting in the collision. The trooper did not witness the
collision and the factual basis upon which he reached his
conclusion in the accident report is unclear. However, it
does not appear that he spoke with Plaintiff regarding the
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate 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." A dispute is
"genuine" only if "the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).
order to prevail on a Motion for summary judgment, the moving
party must meet the burden of proving the absence of a
genuine issue as to material fact concerning an essential
element of the opposing party's claim. Celotex v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Street v. J.C. Bradford &
Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1477 (6th Cir. 1989). In determining
whether the moving party has met its burden, the Court must
view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986).
Civ. P. 56 provides that the nonmoving party may not rest
upon the mere allegations or denials of his or her pleading,
but his or her response, by affidavits or otherwise, must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial. If a nonmoving party, however, fails to make a
showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element
essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial, there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact because a complete failure of
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's case necessarily renders all other facts
immaterial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct.
at 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d at 273. When this occurs, the moving
party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.
Id. at 322-23, 106 S.Ct. at 2552; Williams v.
Ford Motor Co., 187 F.3d 533, 537-38 (6th Cir. 1999).
Rule 56, persons moving for summary judgment are held to the
strict standard of making a showing that excludes any real
doubt as to the existence of any genuine issue of material
fact, and thus their papers are viewed with great strictness
while the opposing party's proof is viewed with more
indulgence. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Company,
398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970). While summary judgment can be
granted in negligence cases when the requirements of Rule 56
have been satisfied, the Tennessee Supreme Court is cautioned
that as a general matter, summary judgment should be granted
only hesitantly in negligence cases because the ultimate
determinative issues should be decided by a trier of fact
after an opportunity to view witnesses' demeanor and to
evaluate their credibility. Bowman v. Henard, 547
S.W.2d 527, 530 (Tenn. 1977). Courts construing Rule 56
consistently hold that summary judgments should not be
granted in cases where the outcome hinges squarely on the
state of mind, intent, or credibility of the witnesses.
Hoover v. Switlik Parachute Company, 663 F.2d 964,
968 (9th Cir. 1981). In other words, doubt as the
credibility of material witnesses will create a genuine issue
of material fact sufficient to render granting summary
judgment improper. Transway Finance Company, Inc. v.
Gershon, 92 F. R. D. 777, 778-79 (E. D. N.Y.1982).
case presents a clear situation where summary judgment is not
proper because the outcome of the case rests solely on the
credibility of the witnesses who can be considered competent
to testify from personal knowledge about the vehicle
asserts that the Defendant failed to use due care in the
operation of his vehicle and that by turning into her vehicle
caused the accident in question. Defendant counters that he
did not turn into her vehicle but rather that she made an
abrupt attempt to change lanes leaving him with no option but
to sideswipe her vehicle. Defendants assert that it is the
Plaintiff's failure to maintain proper control of her
vehicle that caused the collision.
support of Defendants' motion they cite the report of the
Tennessee State Trooper which corroborates William's
version of the events. However, the trooper was not a witness
to the collision and therefore bases his opinion only upon
his observations of the scene upon his arrival after the
collision and any information provided to him by the parties.
In this case, it does not appear that the trooper spoke with
the Plaintiff or received any information about the collision
from her. Therefore, the only source of information regarding
what happened would have come from the Defendant. Further,
the state trooper is not offered as an expert on ...