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Conner v. Techtronic Industries North America, Inc.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division

June 23, 2015

Timothy Conner, Plaintiff,
v.
Techtronic Industries North America, Inc.; One World Technologies, Inc.; and Ryobi Technologies, Inc., Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION

J. MICHELLE CHILDS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Timothy Conner ("Plaintiff") filed this action against Defendants Techtronic Industries North America, Inc., One World Technologies, Inc., and Ryobi Technologies, Inc., (collectively "Defendants") alleging claims for strict products liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty of fitness, breach of warranty of merchantability, and reckless, willful or malicious conduct. (ECF No. 1 at 6-11.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered severe and permanent personal injuries to his left hand while using a Ryobi table saw, Model No. BTS10, Serial No. XX054826192 (the "Ryobi saw"). (Id. at 3 ¶ 7, 6 ¶ 18.)

This matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 ("Rule 56 motion"). (ECF No. 19.) For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendants' Rule 56 motion.

I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO THE PENDING MOTION

On October 8, 2010, Plaintiff was injured while allegedly using a Ryobi saw. (ECF No. 1 at 6 ¶ 18.) On August 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed an action in this court alleging that he "is a citizen of Alabama, " and Defendants are each a "Delaware corporation with its principal place of business located at 1428 Pearman Dairy Road, Anderson, South Carolina 29625." (Id. at 1 ¶¶ 1-2, 2 ¶¶ 3-4.) Plaintiff further alleged that the court "has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because Defendants have their principal place of business in Anderson, South Carolina[]" and "[v]enue is proper in the Court because Defendants have their principal place of business in Anderson, South Carolina." (Id. at 2 ¶¶ 5-6.)

Defendants filed their Rule 56 motion on September 17, 2014, alleging "there is no genuine issue of material fact and the Defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law" as "Plaintiff's claims are due to be dismissed in their entirety because Plaintiff lacks capacity to maintain this action against Defendants under South Carolina's Door Closing Statute, S.C. Code Ann. § 15-5-150." (ECF No. 19 at 1.) Plaintiff filed opposition to Defendants' Rule 56 motion on October 3, 2014, to which Defendants replied on October 14, 2014. (ECF Nos. 22, 23.)

II. JURISDICTION

The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) based on Plaintiff's allegations that this "is a lawsuit between parties of diverse citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000." (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 6.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

A. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56

Summary judgment should be granted on a claim or defense "if the movant shows 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. "Summary judgment is to avoid a useless trial. It is a device to make possible the prompt disposition of controversies on their merits without a trial, if in essence there is no real dispute as to the salient facts." Bland v. Norfolk & S.R. Co., 406 F.2d 863, 866 (4th Cir. 1969). Summary judgment "should be granted only where it is perfectly clear that no issue of fact is involved and inquiry into the facts is not desirable to clarify the application of the law... [a]nd this is true even where there is no dispute as to the evidentiary facts in the case but only as to the conclusions to be drawn therefrom." Stevens v. Howard D. Johnson Co., 181 F.2d 390, 394 (4th Cir. 1950) (internal citations omitted). In this regard, summary judgment is appropriate when the parties merely "dispute the significance of the events... but do not dispute which events actually occurred." Transamerica Delaval Inc. v. Citibank, N.A., 545 F.Supp. 200, 203 (D.C.N.Y. 1982) (internal citation omitted).

In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 123-24 (4th Cir. 1990). The non-moving party may not oppose a motion for summary judgment with mere allegations or denials of the movant's pleading, but instead must demonstrate a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); see, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). "Mere unsupported speculation... is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion." Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995).

B. South Carolina Door Closing Statute

The Door Closing Statute allows a non-resident plaintiff to bring "[A]n action against a corporation created by or under the laws of any other state, government or country" in South Carolina "when the cause of action shall have arisen or the subject of the action shall be situated within this State." S.C. Code Ann. § 15-5-150 (2014). "Pursuant to the Door Closing Statute, a non-South Carolina resident cannot bring an action in South Carolina when the cause of action did not arise within South Carolina." Snell v. Golden Rule Ins. Co., C/A No. 6:08-3555-MHM, 2009 WL 185723, at *2 (D.S.C. Jan. 23, 2009). "In traditional tort settings, we have held that a cause of action arises in this State for purposes of the Door Closing Statute when the plaintiff has the right to bring suit." Murphy v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 590 S.E.2d 479, 482 (S.C. 2003) (citation omitted). "Federal courts sitting in diversity must apply [Door Closing Statute] unless countervailing federal interests preclude its application. Tuttle ...


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