United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
R.S., a minor, by and through her next friend Christina Serrone Shields, Plaintiff,
Target Corporation, Defendant.
Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr., United States District Judge
before the Court is Defendant Target Corporation's Motion
for Summary, Judgment (Doc., 31).
filed the pending action on September 25, 2015, in the
Circuit Court of Platte County, Missouri. On November 2,
2015, defendant timely removed the action, asserting
diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff, through her next friend,
Christina Serrone Shields (plaintiff's mother) asserts
that plaintiff tripped and fell in a Target store on
September 13, 2012. Specifically, plaintiff's one-count
complaint asserts that plaintiff tripped over a clothing rack
projecting out into an aisle. Doc. No. 32-1, ¶ 5.
Plaintiff asserts that the clothing rack was in an
unreasonably dangerous place, and defendant knew or should
have known about the dangerous nature of obstructing an aisle
to have remedied or warned of the dangerous condition.
Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Plaintiff further asserts that
defendant had a duty to warn plaintiff of the known dangerous
condition but failed to do so. Id. ¶ 8.
Plaintiff alleges that she suffered injuries to her head and
neck, and has incurred and in the future will incur expenses
related to the treatment of her injuries, and will also incur
pain and suffering in the future. Id. ¶ 9.
August 12, 2016, defendant moved for summary judgment,
arguing that plaintiff's premises liability negligence
claim fails as a matter of law. Specifically, defendant
argues that (1) the alleged dangerous condition was open and
obvious as a matter of law, absolving defendant of any duty
of care owed to plaintiff; and (2) plaintiff is unable to
make a prima facie case of negligence against defendant
because plaintiff cannot meet the elements necessary to
support her claim under Missouri law.
by and through her Next Friend, alleges to have been injured
at Defendant's Store located at 9040 N. Skyview Avenue,
Kansas City, Platte County, Missouri ("Store"), on
September 13, 2012, after she tripped over a clothing rack
projecting out into an aisle. Petition, Doc. No. 32-1,
¶¶ 3 and 5. On that date, Next Friend Christina
Shields ("Shields") and her minor twin daughters,
age 3 (one of whom is plaintiff), went to the subject Target
Store to look for shoes and accessories for the girls. Doc.
No. 32-2, Shields Depo., 6:1-6, 9:24-25, 10:1-12, 11:2-6.
Shields did not get a shopping cart and her daughters walked
with her in the Store. Id., p. 10:13-17. After
initially looking at children's footwear, Shields and
plaintiff entered the children's apparel department to
look at hair bows on the accessories rack. Id.,
pp.19:4-7, 16-25; 20:1-4, 19-24.
believes that, while in the children's apparel
department, plaintiff tripped over the foot of a rack
containing clothing (hereinafter "clothing rack").
Id., pp.21:24-25, 22:1-7. Shields also believes
plaintiff fell into an accessories rack approximately
eighteen inches from the foot of the clothing rack it is
believed plaintiff tripped over. Id., p.23:1-13. The
clothing rack in question was the first rack located off of
the Store's main aisle. All legs of the clothing rack
were located on the carpeted area of the Store, not the tiled
aisle. Shields Depo., pp.23:21-25, 24:1-9, 20-25. The
accessories rack was also located on the carpeted area.
Id., p.24:1-9, 16-25.
did not see plaintiff trip over the foot of the clothing
rack. Shields was standing at the accessories rack looking
for bows when the incident occurred. Id., p.
22:13-15, 21-25. Shields did not see plaintiff strike the
accessories rack. After hearing a thud, Shields saw plaintiff
face-down on the floor. Id., pp. 26:1-2, 13-15;
28:24-25; 29:1. Shields testified that plaintiff's twin
sister may have been the only person to have seen her trip
over the foot of the rack. However, plaintiff's sister
never told her mother that she saw anything that had occurred
or gave her a version of events. Id., 22:16-20.
Additionally, plaintiff R.S. has never told her mother what
caused her to fall. Id., p. 35:8-13.
routinely shopped at the Store prior to the subject incident.
Shields estimated that she frequented the Store at least
twice a month to purchase household goods as opposed to
groceries. Id., p. 8:17-25, 9:1-9. Prior to the
subject incident, Shields never fell or saw anyone else fall
on the Store's premises. Shields Depo., p.9:10-14. Prior
to the subject incident, Ms. Shields never made any
complaints to Target regarding the condition of its premises
at the Store, nor was she aware of any such complaints made
by others. Id., p.9:15-21. Multiple times prior to
the subject incident, Shields had parked her shopping cart
off to the side of the Store's children's apparel
department because the distance between the racks therein was
too narrow for her to maneuver a cart through. Id.,
pp. 16:17-25, 17:1-21, 18:5-10. Prior to the subject
incident, Shields never spoke with anyone at Target regarding
her concern that the distance between the racks in the
children's apparel department was too narrow, and she was
not aware of any other person who had done so. Id.,
pp. 16:22-25, 18:1-4.
judgment is appropriate if the movant demonstrates that there
is no genuine issue of material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). The facts and
inferences are viewed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-90 (1986). The moving
party must carry the burden of establishing both the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact and that such party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Matsushita,
475 U.S. at 586-90.
nonmoving party must establish more than “the mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence” in support of its
position. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 252 (1986).
The nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, and must
come forward with specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to ...