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Hooton v. Wood

United States District Court, D. Colorado

January 9, 2017

THOMAS HOOTON, JENNIFER HOOTON, and CYCLONE ENTERPRISES, INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
NAOMI WOOD, SEAN WOOD, NAOMI I. WOOD TRUST, and JOHN JOHNSON, Defendants,
v.
EMPLOYERS MUTUAL CASUALTY CO., and CYCLONE ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a Kilthau Transports, Intervenor Plaintiffs.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON MOTION REQUESTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT WITH SUPPORTING AUTHORITY (DOCKET NO. 57) AND HOOTONS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT (DOCKET NO. 63)

          Michael J. Watanabe United States Magistrate Judge

         This case is before the Court pursuant to an Order Referring Case to Magistrate Judge entered by Judge Lewis T. Babcock on October 16, 2015 (Docket No. 26), the Memorandum (Docket No. 58) referring the Motion for Summary Judgment With Supporting Authority filed by Defendants Naomi Woods and Naomi I. Wood Trust (Docket No. 57) (the “Motion for Summary Judgment”), and the Memorandum (Docket No. 65) referring the Hootons' Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint (Docket No. 63) (the “Motion to Amend”). The Court has reviewed the parties' filings, taken judicial notice of the Court's entire file in this case, and considered the applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and case law. Now being fully informed the Court makes the following report and recommendation.

         Background

         Plaintiffs bring negligence claims against Defendants relating to an incident that occurred on November 28, 2012. Plaintiff Jennifer Hooton brings a loss of consortium claim against Defendants. On November 28, 2012, Plaintiff Tom Hooton was driving a semi-tractor on Colorado Highway 52 and saw a pickup truck driven by Defendant John Johnson backing into his lane of travel. Mr. Hooton changed lanes to avoid a collision with the pickup truck and collided with a black cow that had escaped from pasture land.

         The semi-tractor rolled upside down and Mr. Hooton suffered injuries.

         Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 57)

         A. Mootness

         The Motion to Amend seeks to add one claim for a finding of joint liability under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-11.5(4) against Defendants Naomi Wood, Naomi I. Wood Trust, and Shawn Wood. In the Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants Naomi Wood and Naomi I. Wood Trust seek summary judgment of the negligence claims asserted against them.

         In many circumstances, when a motion to amend is granted, any pending dispositive motions are denied as moot because they are directed at a pleading that is no longer the operative pleading. See, e.g. Martinez v. Spa Motel, No. 15-cv-00358-KLM, 2015 WL 6750269, at *5 (D. Colo. Nov. 5, 2015) (denying motion for summary judgment as moot); Dempsey v. Jason's Premier Pumping Servs., LLC, No. 15-cv-00703-CMA-NYW, 2015 WL 4761191, at *2 (D. Colo. Aug. 13, 2015) (mooting a partial motion for summary judgment due to the filing of an amended complaint); Dicino v. Garcia, No. 12-cv-01274-WYD-KLM, 2014 WL 3746961, at *2 (D. Colo. July 30, 2014). Therefore, in many cases, the Court will address a motion to amend prior to addressing any dispositive motions. However, in this case, in keeping with Fed.R.Civ.P. 1, it is most efficient to address both motions together because if the Motion for Summary Judgment is granted, the Motion to Amend, which seeks to add a joint liability claim that includes the two Defendants moving for summary judgment and Defendant Shawn Wood, would be rendered moot because two of the three Defendants against whom Plaintiffs seek joint liability as to the allegedly negligent acts would be granted summary judgment. Alternatively, if the Motion for Summary Judgment is not granted, the Court can then address the Motion to Amend as it would in the normal course.

         B. Standard

         As Judge Babcock has explained:

The purpose of a summary judgment motion under Rule 56 is to assess whether trial is necessary. White v. York Int'l Corp., 45 F.3d 357, 360 (10th Cir. 1995). Rule 56 provides that summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits show that 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). The non-moving party has the burden of showing that there are issues of material fact to be determined. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
A party seeking 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, interrogatories, and admissions on file together with affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of genuine issues for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; Mares v. ConAgra Poultry Co., Inc., 971 F.2d 492, 494 (10th Cir. 1992). 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. Otteson v. United States, 622 F.2d 516, 519 (10th Cir. 1980); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).
If a reasonable juror could not return a verdict for the non-moving party, summary judgment is proper and there is no need for a trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The operative inquiry is whether, based on all documents submitted, reasonable jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the [moving party] is entitled to a verdict. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). However, summary judgment should not enter if, viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party and drawing all reasonable inferences in ...

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