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Hall v. Eads

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 25, 2018

Betsy Hall, et al., Plaintiffs,
Randy Wayne Eads, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge.

         At issue is Defendants Randy Wayne Eads, Joyce Eads, and Eads Enterprises Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 39, Mot.), to which Plaintiffs Betsy Hall and Wade Hall filed a Response (Doc. 43, Resp.), and Defendants filed a Reply (Doc. 47, Reply). No. party requested oral argument, and the Court finds the Motion appropriate for resolution without such argument. See LRCiv 7.2(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court grants Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The factual premise of this case is simple and not subject to reasonable dispute.[1]On the night of December 16, 2014, Randy Eads turned off of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard in Scottsdale, Arizona, to begin merging southbound on State Route 101. (Doc. 40, Defendants' Separate Statement of Facts (“Defs' SSOF”) ¶ 1.) However, Eads never reached the 101, as he rear-ended a Chrysler driven by Betsy Hall (“Hall”) during his attempt to merge. (Defs' SSOF ¶ 7.)

         On August 18, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in Maricopa County Superior Court. (Doc. 1-1, Compl.) Defendants subsequently removed the matter to this Court on November 7, 2016. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal.) Defendants now move for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate that (1) that Mrs. Hall will incur future medical expenses; (2) that Mrs. Hall will lose future wages; and (3) that Plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages.


         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when: (1) the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) after viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). Under this standard, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing [substantive] law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” of material fact arises only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must regard as true the non-moving party's evidence, if it is supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. However, the non-moving party may not merely rest on its pleadings; it must produce some significant probative evidence tending to contradict the moving party's allegations, thereby creating a material question of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57 (holding that the plaintiff must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment); First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968).

         “A summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by relying solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). “Summary judgment must be entered ‘against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” United States v. Carter, 906 F.2d 1375, 1376 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

         III. ANALYSIS

         In the Motion, Defendants do not contest any aspect of their liability.[2] Rather, Defendants seek summary judgment as to two measures of damages that Plaintiff alleges: future medical expenses and future lost income. (Mot. at 3-5.)[3] The Court addresses each remedy in turn.

         A. Future Medical Expenses

         In the Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that, as a consequence of the car accident, Mrs. Hall suffered injuries that “may be permanent in nature” and that may cause her to incur medical expenses in the future. (Compl. ¶ 5.)

         Even if the evidence supports a finding that a plaintiff's injury is permanent, this “does not in itself constitute a sufficient basis for the award of future medical expenses.” Valley Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Haney, 558 P.2d 720, 722 (Ariz.Ct.App. 1976). Thus, to survive summary judgment, “the need for future care must be reasonably probable and there must be some evidence of the probable nature and cost of the future treatment.” Saide v. Stanton, 659 P.2d 35, 36 (Ariz. 1983); see also Valley Nat'l Bank, 558 P.2d at 722 (“[T]here must be some evidence of the probable nature of future treatment, the duration thereof and the cost.”). “Whether future medical expenses are reasonably probable or certain is determined ‘from all the relevant circumstances which are before the court.'” Id. at 37 (quoting Besch v. Triplett, 532 P.2d 532, 878 (Ariz. Ct. App ...

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