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Monasterio v. Greyhound Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

January 24, 2019

CARLOS MONASTERIO and BRIAN BROUILETTE, Plaintiffs,
v.
GREYHOUND LINES, INC. a/k/a SOUTHWESTERN GREYHOUND LINES, INC.; DAVE LEACH, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF GREYHOUND LINES, INC.; BILL BLANKENSHIP, CEO IN CHARGE OF SECURITY AND SAFETY; ARNULFO BRAVO, EMPLOYEE OF SOUTHWESTERN GREYHOUND LINES, INC.; JASON VON JIMENEZ II; AND JOHN DOES I-IV Defendants.

          Jeffrey W. McElroy and John Valdez, Davie, Valdez & McElroy, PC, El Paso, Texas, for Plaintiff Carlos Monasterio.

          Daniel H. Hernandez, Ray, McChristian & Jeans, P.C., El Paso, Texas, for Defendants Greyhound, Inc. and Arnulfo Bravo.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS GREYHOUND LINE, INC.'S AND ARNULFO BRAVO'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          PAUL KELLY, JR. UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the court on Defendants Greyhound Lines, Inc. and Arnulfo Bravo's Motion for Summary Judgment filed December 19, 2017. ECF No. 66. Upon consideration thereof, the motion is well taken and should be granted.[1]

         Background

         This case arises out of an altercation on June 21, 2012 between Plaintiff Carlos Monasterio and Defendant Jason Von Jimenez II, which occurred on a bus operated by Defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc. (“Greyhound”) and driven by Defendant Arnulfo Bravo (collectively, the “Greyhound Defendants”). Pretrial Order at 4 (ECF No. 78). At the time of the altercation, the bus was traveling from Alamogordo, New Mexico to Roswell, New Mexico on Route Schedule 450. Id.

         Mr. Jimenez boarded a Greyhound bus in Fresno, California, the day prior to the altercation. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 1, UDF No. 1 (ECF No. 66-7); Jimenez Dep. at 1 (p. 24) (ECF No. 66-3); Jimenez Dep. at 2 (p. 15) (ECF No. 69-2). Greyhound had a policy prohibiting weapons and conducted random searches for them. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 7 (ECF No. 66-7). There is no federal regulation that requires these measures. Id.

         Mr. Jimenez does not remember seeing signs at the Fresno station warning about weapons, although he is pretty sure they were there. Jimenez Dep. at 6 (p. 32) (ECF No. 69-2). Nevertheless, he carried in his backpack a pocket knife with a three-inch blade, which he moved to his pocket while on board. Id. at 4-5 (pp. 98, 109). Mr. Jimenez had a general sense that he was not supposed to carry weapons on the bus, but he considered the pocket knife a tool. Jimenez Dep. at 6 (p. 10) (ECF No. 71-1).

         The bus stopped in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where Mr. Jimenez had a six-hour layover, and where he first encountered Mr. Monasterio. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 1, UDF No. 2 (ECF No. 66-7); Jimenez Dep. at 1-2 (pp. 25-29) (ECF No. 66-3). The Las Cruces bus stop was operated by a commissioned agency and independent contractor, Shorty's Quick Mart. Bravo Dep. at 2 (p. 112) (ECF No. 66-2); Smith Dep. at 3 (p. 131) (ECF No. 69-3). Although Mr. Monasterio did not say anything to Mr. Jimenez, Mr. Jimenez testified that Mr. Monasterio was staring at him and “mad-dogging” him with a mean look on his face. Jimenez Dep. at 3 (p. 30) (ECF No. 66-3). Both Mr. Monasterio and Mr. Jimenez boarded the same bus on Route Schedule 450, which Mr. Bravo was driving. Id. (p. 31). Mr. Bravo had no notice that Mr. Jimenez boarded the bus with a knife, or that a fight could occur. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 4 (ECF No. 66-7); Pretrial Order at 4. In addition, no passenger warned Mr. Bravo about Mr. Jimenez's knife or that he posed a potential threat. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 5 (ECF No. 66-7); Pretrial Order at 4.

         Mr. Jimenez also testified to hearing Mr. Monasterio talk to other passengers outside the bus at a stop in Alamogordo, New Mexico, about hurting Mr. Jimenez, but they boarded after five to ten minutes without incident. Jimenez Dep. at 4-5 (pp. 47-53) (ECF No. 66-3). While en route, Mr. Bravo pulled the bus over to prevent it from overheating. Bravo Dep. at 3 (pp. 127-28) (ECF No. 66-2). Mr. Jimenez testified that Mr. Monasterio told him that “something could just happen like right here” and suggested leaving the bus to smoke a cigarette while it was stopped. Jimenez Dep. at 13-15 (pp. 57-58, 63-34) (ECF No. 69-2). According to Mr. Jimenez, when he declined, Mr. Monasterio grabbed his arm and said, “come on.” Id. at 14-15 (pp. 58, 63-64). Mr. Jimenez responded by punching Mr. Monasterio in the face. Id. at 15 (p. 64). The two men then stood up in the aisle and began punching each other while moving towards the front of the bus, at which point the bus started to move again. Id. (p. 65); Jimenez Dep. at 6 (pp. 66-68) (ECF No. 66-3). As they moved up the aisle, Mr. Jimenez pulled out his pocket knife and began stabbing Mr. Monasterio. Jimenez Dep. at 6 (p. 66) (ECF No. 66-3).

         Mr. Bravo became aware of the altercation when he heard passengers say that there was a fight. Bravo Dep. at 5 (pp. 138-39) (ECF No. 66-2). He then observed in his rear-facing mirror Mr. Monasterio and Mr. Jimenez fighting and coming up the aisle, and he heard Mr. Monasterio say, “He's got a knife.” Id. (p. 139). Mr. Bravo slowed the bus. Id. (p. 139). He did not see the knife, and he did not notice any blood until Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Monasterio pushed through a swinging Plexiglass gate at the front of the aisle. Id. at 5-6 (pp. 138-39, 147). Mr. Bravo then stopped the bus on the righthand side of Highway 70 and opened the main bus door. Id. at 7 (p. 156); Jimenez Dep. at 14 (pp. 58- 59) (ECF No. 69-2). Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Monasterio's altercation had moved to the step well, and their fighting caused them to fall out of the opened door. Bravo Dep. at 7 (pp. 155-56) (ECF No. 66-2); Jimenez Dep. at 7 (pp. 75-76) (ECF No. 66-3). After the two men had fallen out, Mr. Bravo drove the bus approximately 300 to 400 yards, where he could still see Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Monasterio, but where he believed was a “safe place to park the bus” to prevent his passengers from getting attacked. Bravo Dep. at 8 (p. 161), 10 (pp. 214-15) (ECF No. 66-2). Upon stopping, he checked on his passengers and discovered that one passenger, Brian Brouilette, had been injured after Mr. Monasterio and Mr. Jimenez fell on top of him during the altercation. Id. at 11 (p. 221); Bravo Dep. at 11-13 (pp. 161-63) (ECF No. 69-4). Mr. Bravo then exited the bus and called 911 to report the incident and that several passengers had been injured, and he called again seven minutes later when emergency responders had not yet arrived. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 10; Bravo Dep. at 12 (pp. 222-24) (ECF No. 66-2); Bravo Dep. at 12-14 (pp. 162-64) (ECF No. 69-4).

         The altercation ended immediately after Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Monasterio exited the bus, and Mr. Monasterio crossed to the other side of the highway to get away from Mr. Jimenez. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 12 (ECF No. 66-7); Monasterio Dep. at 1 (p. 262) (ECF No. 66-6); Jimenez Dep. at 7 (p. 77) (ECF No. 66-3). Mr. Jimenez then flagged down a car and persuaded its driver to call 911 to report Mr. Monasterio's injuries. Jimenez Dep. at 8 (p. 78) (ECF No. 66-3). He then flagged down another car, which agreed to drive him to the police station. Id. (pp. 78-79). Mr. Jimenez was convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and with intent to commit a violent felony in the third degree, and he was sentenced to three years for both charges to be served consecutively. Mot. for Summ. J. Memo. at 2, UDF No. 13 (ECF No. 66-7); Jimenez Dep. at 9 (pp. 91-92) (ECF No. 66-3).

         Mr. Monasterio and Mr. Brouilette brought their complaint in state court.[2] Count I alleges that two Greyhound corporate officers, Dave Leach and Bill Blankenship, were negligent and grossly negligent in failing to provide a safe environment on Greyhound buses. Count II alleges that Mr. Leach and Mr. Blankenship were grossly negligent for failing to properly train Mr. Bravo. Count III alleges that Greyhound was negligent under the doctrine of respondeat superior for the acts of Messrs. Leach, Blankenship, and Bravo. Count IV alleges that Mr. Jimenez is liable for injuries caused to Plaintiffs. Finally, Count V alleges that Defendants are jointly and severally liable for Plaintiffs' injuries.

         Defendants removed this action to federal district court. Notice of Removal, Monasterio v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 2:15-cv-00683-PJK-SMV (D.N.M. Sept. 9, 2015), ECF No. 5. This court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims without prejudice against Mr. Leach and Mr. Blankenship for lack of service. Order of Dismissal, Monasterio v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 2:15-cv-00683-PJK-SMV (D.N.M. Aug. 30, 2016), ECF No. 22. Mr. Brouilette and the Greyhound Defendants settled. Order of Dismissal, Monasterio v. Greyhound Lines, Inc., 2:15-cv-00683-PJK-SMV (D.N.M. Jan. 1, 2018), ECF No. 70. Plaintiffs did not file an amended complaint. In light of those now party to the case, and for the purposes of deciding this motion, we read Counts I-III of the complaint to assert a negligence ...


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