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Timmons v. L.E.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

June 9, 2017

L.E.P., a minor, and TIMOTHY J. POWDERLY, Defendants.



         Plaintiff Nicholas R. Timmons brings this personal injury action arising out of an automobile accident against Defendant L.E.P., a minor, and Timothy J. Powderly, L.E.P.'s father. This case has been assigned to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to the Civil Justice Reform Act and is being heard by consent of the parties. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant L.E.P. (Doc. 20.) Also pending is Defendant Timothy Powderly's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 21). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied, and Defendant Powderly's Motion will be granted.


         On September 21, 2015, L.E.P. was operating a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am at the intersection of Notre Dame Drive and Route K in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. L.E.P. was not yet licensed and was only a permit driver. Defendant L.E.P. turned onto Route K from Notre Dame Drive, lost control of the Trans-Am and collided with the vehicle operated by Plaintiff Timmons.[1]

         In Count I of his Complaint, Timmons asserts a negligence claim against L.E.P. (Doc. 1 at p. 2.) Timmons alleges that L.E.P. was not skilled or experienced in operating such a powerful vehicle, and drove at a speed that was too fast to maintain control of the vehicle. Id. He states that he sustained injury, has incurred medical expenses, and has experienced pain, suffering, lost income, and disability as a result of L.E.P.'s negligence. Id.

         Timmons asserts a negligent entrustment claim against Timothy E. Powderly in Count II. Id. at p. 3. He states that Powderly was the owner of the Trans-Am driven by L.E.P. Id. Timmons alleges that Powderly negligently entrusted the vehicle to L.E.P. when he knew his daughter was too inexperienced “to operate such a powerful vehicle.” Id. He further alleges that Powderly directed L.E.P. to enter onto Route K from Notre Dame Drive when it was not safe to do so due to the proximity of traffic on Route K. Id. Timmons contends that the collision resulted from Powderly's negligence. Id. at 4. He requests compensatory and punitive damages “commensurate to his reckless conduct.” Id.

         L.E.P. asserts an affirmative defense of comparative fault. (Doc. 2 at p. 2-3.)

         Timmons filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant L.E.P, contending that L.E.P. admitted both fault and damages during her deposition. He requests that the Court enter summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against L.E.P., and that this matter proceed to trial against L.E.P. on the issue of compensatory damages only.

         Defendant Powderly filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, in which he argues that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on Timmons' negligent entrustment claim because Timmons has produced no evidence to support such a claim. He further argues that Timmons cannot establish that the conduct of Powderly supports a claim of punitive damages.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the “mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v. Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004). “Instead, the dispute must be outcome determinative under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11 (8th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         The nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in his favor to allow a jury to return a verdict for him. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. “If ‘opposing parties tell two different stories, ' the court must review the record, determine which facts are material and genuinely disputed, and then view those facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party - as long as those facts are not ‘so blatantly contradicted by the record . . . that no reasonable jury could believe' them.” Reed v. City of St. Charles, Mo., 561 F.3d 788 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007)). Self-serving, conclusory statements without support are not sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Armour and Co., Inc. v. Inver Grove Heights, 2 F.3d 276, 279 (8th Cir. 1993).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587; Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2005). The Court may not “weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record, decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue.” Kampouris v. St. Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The court is required, however, to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chemical Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).

         III. Discussion

         A. ...

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