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Quarterman v. Spirit Line Cruises, LLC

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

February 1, 2016

Victor R. Quarterman and Cynthia Quarterman, Plaintiffs,
v.
Spirit Line Cruises, LLC; Stanley Steemer of Charleston, Inc.; The Harbor Company, LLC, in personam, and M/V Spirit of Carolina her engines, bowspirit, anchor, cables, chains, rigging, tackle, apparel, furniture, and all accessories hereunto belonging to her, in rem. Defendants.

ORDER

PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on Spirit Line Cruises, LLC, the Harbor Company, LLC, and M/V Spirit of Carolina’s[1] Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 55), Motion in Limine to exclude John Smith as an expert witness (ECF No. 58), Motion in Limine to exclude post-deposition, new opinions of Curtis D. Haskins, M.D. (ECF No. 62), and Motion in Limine to exclude documents produced after the close of discovery (ECF No. 83). Also before the Court are Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel (ECF No. 64), Motion for a Negative Presumption (ECF No. 65), and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 66), BACKGROUND

This action arises out of an accident that occurred on February 15, 2011, when Victor Quarterman[2] was aboard the M/V Spirit of Carolina to address a problem with the vessel’s sound system. That same day, Spirit replaced the liquor cabinet on the vessel and had its carpets cleaned by Defendant Stanley Steemer. Early that day, Spirit’s crew members removed the liquor cabinet and placed it on the bow of the second deck of the vessel, where it remained without incident for most of the day. Later that day, Stanley Steemer employees arrived to clean the inside carpets of the second deck of the vessel. Around the time the Stanley Steemer employees arrived, Plaintiff was installing an outdoor speaker on the second deck of the vessel with his co-worker, Daniel Fox. The liquor cabinet was situated on the deck somewhere behind them, and an employee of Stanley Steemer was allegedly on the other side of the liquor cabinet. The cabinet then fell, allegedly striking Plaintiff and Fox. After the cabinet fell, Fox immediately sought medical care, while Plaintiff declined to do so.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Spirit filed its Motion for Summary Judgment on October 20, 2015. Plaintiffs and Stanley Steemer filed their Responses in Opposition on November 20. Spirit did not file a reply. Next, on October 23, Spirit filed two Motions in Limine seeking to exclude John Smith as an expert witness and to exclude Dr. Curtis Haskins’ new opinions. Plaintiffs filed their Responses in Opposition to both motions on November 20. Plaintiffs then filed a Motion for a Negative Presumption, a Motion to Compel, and a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against Spirit on October 30. Spirit filed its Responses in Opposition to all three motions on November 30, and Plaintiffs filed a Reply for all three motions on December 10. Finally, Spirit filed a Motion in Limine on December 31, to which Plaintiffs responded on January 8, 2016. Accordingly, these matters are now ripe for consideration. The Court will address the summary judgment motions first. It will then address the remaining motions in the order in which they were filed.

Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment

LEGAL STANDARD

To grant a motion for summary judgment, a court must find that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The judge is not to weigh the evidence but rather must determine if there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). All evidence should be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Perini Corp. v. Perini Constr., Inc., 915 F.2d 121, 124 (4th Cir. 1990). “[I]t is ultimately the nonmovant’s burden to persuade [the court] that there is indeed a dispute of material fact. It must provide more than a scintilla of evidence-and not merely conclusory allegations or speculation-upon which a jury could properly find in its favor.” CoreTel Va., LLC v. Verizon Va., LLC, 752 F.3d 364, 370 (4th Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). “[W]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is appropriate.” Teamsters Joint Council No. 83 v. Centra, Inc., 947 F.2d 115, 119 (4th Cir. 1991). Summary judgment is not “a disfavored procedural shortcut, ” but an important mechanism for weeding out “claims and defenses [that] have no factual basis.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986).

ANALYSIS

Spirit and Plaintiffs have both moved for summary judgment on the question of liability. The Court declines to grant summary judgment to either party. The Court finds there are genuine issues of material fact as to the cause of the accident and whether Spirit’s storage of the cabinet on the deck was proper.[3] Accordingly, both Plaintiffs’ and Spirit’s motions are denied.

Spirit’s Motion to Exclude John Smith

LEGAL STANDARD

The introduction and admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides as follows:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the ...


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