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Dorado v. Campos

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 12, 2018




         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on December 8, 2017. (Doc. 42.) Jurisdiction arises under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (See Doc. 1 at 2.) Having considered the submissions of counsel and relevant law, the Court will GRANT the motion.

         I. Factual Background[1]

         On December 12, 2013, Plaintiff Cheryl Dorado (Ms. Dorado) was driving in Carlsbad, New Mexico. (Doc. 1-3 (“Compl.”) ¶ 1.) Ms. Dorado approached the intersection of Pecos Acres and Westridge and saw a dark-colored Maxima sitting at a stop sign at the intersection. (Docs. 42-C at 23:4-15, 46:5-8; 43-2 at 1.) Ms. Dorado did not have a stop sign, and she continued through the intersection. (Doc. 42-C at 37:11-15.) The driver of the Maxima accelerated and entered the intersection at the same time as Ms. Dorado, hitting her vehicle. (Id. at 37:12-15.) The driver then pulled away from the scene of the accident, only stopping when Ms. Dorado pursued him. (Id. at 37:15-38:7.) Ms. Dorado spoke to the driver, a man she described as white, [2] skinny, and “[m]aybe in his 20s.” (Id. at 39:10-23.) The man told her that it was his mother's car. (Id. at 38:9-10.) Ms. Dorado told him she was calling the police, and he “freaked out” and started to leave. (Id. at 38:23- 25.) Ms. Dorado took pictures of his car and license plate before he left the scene. (Id. at 39:1-5; Doc. 43-1.) The police arrived and made a report. (See Doc. 43-2.) The police officers ran the Colorado license plate shown in Ms. Dorado's picture and traced the plate to Defendant James Campos (Mr. Campos) as owner of the Maxima. (See Id. at 1.)

         On December 12, 2013, Mr. Campos and Defendant Alice Monk (Ms. Monk) lived in Craig, Colorado. (Docs. 42-A ¶ 2; 42-B ¶ 2.) Both Mr. Campos and Ms. Monk submitted affidavits attesting that they were not in Carlsbad, New Mexico on December 12, 2013, nor were either of them involved in the motor vehicle accident at issue here. (See Docs. 42-A ¶¶ 3-5; 42-B ¶¶ 3-5.) Mr. Campos adds that he is not in his twenties. (Doc. 42-A ¶ 6.)

         Plaintiffs assert in their Complaint that the unidentified driver “was a member of the household of the Defendants and was using the subject automobile for the use, benefit, and enjoyment of the Defendants or the members of the household and the Defendants are thus liable to the Plaintiffs pursuant to the Family Purpose Doctrine.” (Compl. ¶ 4.)

         II. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate when the Court, viewing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, determines “that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Garrison v. Gambro, Inc., 428 F.3d 933, 935 (10th Cir. 2005). A fact is “material” if it could influence the determination of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute over a material fact is “genuine” if a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict for either party. Id. The moving party bears the initial responsibility of “show[ing] that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Bacchus Indus., Inc. v. Arvin Indus., Inc., 939 F.2d 887, 891 (10th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)).

         Once the moving party meets this burden, Rule 56(e) “requires the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (quotation marks omitted). The party opposing a motion for summary judgment “must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial as to those dispositive matters for which it carries the burden of proof.” Applied Genetics Int'l, Inc. v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 912 F.2d 1238, 1241 (10th Cir. 1990) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324). Rule 56(c) provides that “[a] party asserting that a fact . . . is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). The respondent may not simply “rest on mere allegations or denials of [her] pleadings.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 259; see also Otteson v. United States, 622 F.2d 516, 519 (10th Cir. 1980) (“However, once a properly supported summary judgment motion is made, the opposing party may not rest on the allegations contained in his complaint, but must respond with specific facts showing the existence of a genuine factual issue to be tried.”) (quotation omitted)). Nor can a party “avoid summary judgment by repeating conclusory opinions, allegations unsupported by specific facts, or speculation.” Colony Nat'l Ins. Co. v. Omer, No. 07-2123-JAR, 2008 WL 2309005, at *1 (D. Kan. June 2, 2008) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Argo v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kan., Inc., 452 F.3d 1193, 1199 (10th Cir. 2006)). “In a response to a motion for summary judgment, a party cannot rest on ignorance of facts, on speculation, or on suspicion and may not escape summary judgment in the mere hope that something will turn up at trial.” Conaway v. Smith, 853 F.2d 789, 794 (10th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted).

         III. Analysis

         A. Counsel for both parties have failed to follow Local Rules.

         The Court begins by noting that Defendants filed their motion one week after the deadline for pretrial motions had passed. On July 21, 2017, in response to Plaintiffs' unopposed Motion to Extend Scheduling Order Deadlines by 90-Days (Doc. 35), the Court entered an order resetting the pretrial motions deadline to December 1, 2017. (Doc. 36 at 1.) Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on December 8, 2017, one week after the Court-imposed deadline had expired. (See Doc. 42.) Local Rule 16.1 provides that “[m]odification of deadlines in the Court's scheduling orders . . ., whether or not opposed, requires a showing of good cause and Court approval.” D.N.M. LR-Civ. 16.1. Moreover, Local Rule 56.1 specifically states that “[m]otions for summary judgment will not be considered unless filed within the deadline set in the Joint Status Report to allow sufficient time for the opposing party to file counter-affidavits and responses thereto, and to permit the Court reasonable time to hear arguments, if granted, and to consider the merits.” D.N.M. LR-Civ. 56.1(a) (emphasis added). Defendants have neither shown good cause for missing the pretrial motion deadline, nor have they sought Court approval for filing their motion outside of the deadline.

         Moreover, while both parties cite authority for the summary judgment standard, neither party cites a single case related to Plaintiffs' actual claim. (See Docs. 42-44.) Plaintiffs' Complaint makes clear that they have brought suit pursuant to the “family purpose doctrine, ” yet neither party offers the Court any authority on point. Local Rule 7.3 provides that “[a] motion, response or reply must cite authority in support of the legal positions advanced.” D.N.M. LR-Civ. 7.3(a). Failing to cite ...

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