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Dedmon v. Continental Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Colorado

February 12, 2015

CAROLYN DEDMON, Plaintiff,
v.
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES, INC., UNITED AIRLINES, INC., and UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS, INC., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Carolyn Dedmon ("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendants Continental Airlines, Inc., United Airlines, Inc., and United Continental Holdings, Inc. (collectively "Defendants") for injuries she suffered when she fell on Defendants' property. (Am. Compl. (ECF No. 9).) Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). (ECF No. 46.) For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is denied.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate only if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Henderson v. Inter-Chem Coal Co., Inc., 41 F.3d 567, 569 (10th Cir. 1994). Whether there is a genuine dispute as to a material fact depends upon whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or conversely, is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986); Stone v. Autoliv ASP, Inc., 210 F.3d 1132 (10th Cir. 2000); Carey v. U.S. Postal Serv., 812 F.2d 621, 623 (10th Cir. 1987).

A fact is "material" if it pertains to an element of a claim or defense; a factual dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is so contradictory that if the matter went to trial, a reasonable party could return a verdict for either party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The Court must resolve factual ambiguities against the moving party, thus favoring the right to a trial. Houston v. Nat'l Gen. Ins. Co., 817 F.2d 83, 85 (10th Cir. 1987).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Chelsea, an airline catering company that is a subsidiary of United, occupies and operates the Chelsea facility at Denver International Airport. (Igo Aff. (ECF No. 46-1) ¶ 2.) Frontier Airlines sublets one area inside the Chelsea facility for its food service operations. (Id. ) At all times relevant herein, Plaintiff was employed by Frontier Airlines and worked at the Chelsea facility refilling catering carts used on Frontier flights. (Pl.'s Dep. (ECF No. 46-2) pp. 7-10.)

On October 23, 2010, Plaintiff was at work when she left Frontier's catering area and walked down the hall to retrieve a bottle of Gatorade from the facility's employee cafeteria. (Pl.'s Dep. at 43, 57.) In the hallway ahead of her, Plaintiff saw two caution signs that read "Wet Floor". (Id. at 44, 48.) Plaintiff stopped short of the signs, examined the floor, and noticed a large spill that extended across the entire hallway. (Id. at 44, 51-52, 77-78.) It appeared to Plaintiff that the spill had just occurred. (Id. at 52, 78-79.)

Plaintiff was in a hurry to retrieve her Gatorade before the next round of catering carts arrived, so she chose to walk across the spill rather than take an alternate route that would have required her to exit the building, walk across the loading dock, and reenter through the far side. (Pl.'s Dep. at 84-85; Igo Dep. (ECF No. 54-1) pp. 108, 198-200.) Plaintiff surveyed the spill and determined that she could cross one side of the hallway that appeared less wet. (Pl.'s Dep. at 76-77, 84-85.) Plaintiff did not feel the substance on the floor before she decided to cross the spill. (Id. at 74.)

Plaintiff took one step forward onto the wet substance, slipped, and fell to the ground. (Id. at 54.) After the fall, Plaintiff had trouble getting back to her feet because the spilled substance was so slippery. (Id. at 64-65, 74-75.) Based on the liquid that remained on her hands, Plaintiff felt like the spilled substance was "some kind of oil." (Id. ) The spill occurred in a hallway through which used cooking oil was transported from the hot food production area to the disposal area. (Igo Dep. (ECF No. 54-1) pp. 111-13.)

On these facts, Plaintiff brings a claim against Defendants under Colorado's Premises Liability statute, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-115. (ECF No. 9.) Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on July 14, 2014. (ECF No. 46.) Plaintiff filed her Response (ECF No. 54), and Defendants filed their Reply (ECF No. 59). This matter is now ripe for review.

III. ANALYSIS

Defendants move for summary judgment on two bases: (1) Plaintiff has failed to show a genuine dispute of fact as to whether Defendants exercised reasonable care to protect against a danger on their property; and (2) Defendants have shown that they are entitled to summary judgment on their affirmative defense of ...


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