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Hanrahan-Fox v. Top Gun Shooting Sports, LLC

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

December 9, 2019

MARIE HANRAHAN-FOX and WILLIAM FOX, Plaintiffs,
v.
TOP GUN SHOOTING SPORTS, LLC et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN R. CLARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Top Gun Shooting Sports, LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment [51]. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs allege that on or about June 1, 2018, Plaintiff Marie Hanrahan-Fox patronized the shooting range operated by Defendant Top Gun Shooting Sports, LLC in Arnold, Missouri. Doc. 29, ¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege that Top Gun provided Ms. Hanrahan-Fox with inadequate hearing protection, and that Ms. Hanrahan-Fox's subsequent use of Top Gun's shooting range exposed her to dangerously loud noise levels of gunfire. Id. at ¶¶ 9-10, 19. Plaintiffs allege that Ms. Hanrahan-Fox suffered irreversible hearing loss as a direct result of this exposure and is now legally deaf. Id. at ¶¶ 20-22. Ms. Hanrahan-Fox brings claims against Top Gun for negligence and failure to warn, seeking damages in excess of $75, 000. Id. at Counts I and II. Ms.

         Hanrahan-Fox's husband, Plaintiff William Fox, brings a claim for loss of consortium and also seeks damages in excess of $75, 000. Id. at Count III.[1]

         Top Gun filed the present Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 51, on September 25, 2019. As its sole basis for summary judgment, Top Gun asserts that Ms. Hanrahan-Fox waived her claims against Top Gun by signing a valid and enforceable liability release. Doc. 51, pg. 3-5.

         II. STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, demonstrates no genuine issue of material fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Cordry v. Vanderbilt Mortg. & Fin., Inc., 445 F.3d 1106, 1109 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting Bockelman v. MCI Worldcom, Inc., 403 F.3d 528, 531 (8th Cir. 2005)). The proponent of a motion for summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The proponent need not, however, negate the opponent's claims or defenses. Id. at 324- 25.

         In response to the proponent's showing, the opponent's burden is to “come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). A “genuine” dispute of material fact is more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Id. at 586. “[T]here is no issue for trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). “If the evidence is merely colorable...or is not significantly probative...summary judgment may be granted.” Id. at 249-50 (citations omitted).

         In passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255. The Court's function is not to weigh the evidence, but to determine whether a genuine issue for trial exists. Id. at 249.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Top Gun argues that the Court should enter summary judgment in its favor because Ms. Hanrahan-Fox signed a liability release prior to entering Top Gun's shooting range. Doc. 51, pg. 3. Top Gun represents the following facts as uncontroverted on the record: Top Gun requires all patrons entering the shooting range to sign a “Release and Hold Harmless Agreement.” Top Gun does not admit any patron to the range unless the patron first signs the Agreement, and Top Gun would not have allowed Ms. Hanrahan-Fox to enter the shooting range unless she had signed the Agreement. Doc. 53, ¶ 5. The Agreement in question provides as follows:

RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT
In consideration for using the facilities of Top Gun Shooting Sports, LLC, the undersigned Participant HEREBY AGREES TO WAIVE, RELEASE, AND HOLD HARMLESSTop Gun Shooting Sports, LLC from any and all claims for damages for death, personal injury, or property damage which they may have or which they may accrue as a result of participation in any activity and event ...

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