United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
Archie D. McRee, Plaintiff,
Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc., and Paradigm Health & Wellness, Inc., f/k/a Paradigm Fitness Equipment, Inc., Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs motion to reconsider
the Court's order granting summary judgment for
Defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants
in part and denies in part the motion to reconsider.
January 22, 2014, Plaintiff Archie D. McRee purchased a new
Fitness Gear-brand inversion table model FGIT-300, designed
and supplied by Defendant Paradigm Health & Wellness,
Inc., at the Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. store in the
Citadel Mall in Charleston, South Carolina. In October 2014,
a recall was issued on the inversion table, allegedly
"because the ankle locking system was found to fail,
causing severe injuries to users and consumers." (Dkt.
No. 69 ¶ 12.) Dick's Sporting Goods allegedly failed
to notify Plaintiff about the recall. On February 2, 2015,
Plaintiff inverted himself on the inversion table, and the
ankle locking system separated, causing him to fall headfirst
to the floor, resulting in severe and debilitating injuries.
October 7, 2015, Plaintiff filed this product liability case
in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas for Beaufort
County. On November 12, 2015, Defendants timely removed the
case under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. On August
19, 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging
negligence (Count One), violation of the South Carolina
Defective Product Act, SC Code § 15-73-10, et
seq. (Count Two), breach of implied warranty of
merchantability (Count Three), breach of implied warranty of
fitness for a particular purpose (Count Four), and breach of
express warranties (Count Five). On February 20, 2017,
Defendants moved for summary judgment. On April 28, 2017,
Senior United States District Judge Weston Houck granted
Defendants' motion for summary judgment. On May 26, 2017,
Plaintiff timely moved for reconsideration of that order.
Following Judge Houck's passing, the case was assigned to
the undersigned. The Court heard oral argument on the motion
for reconsideration on November 8, 2017. This order now
59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions
to alter or amend a judgment; however, the rule does not
provide a legal standard for such motions. The Fourth Circuit
has articulated "three grounds for amending an earlier
judgment: (1) to accommodate an intervening change in
controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not
available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am.
Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.
1998) (citing EEOC v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 116
F.3d 110, 112 (4th Cir. 1997); Hutchinson v. Staton,
994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993)). "Rule 59(e)
motions may not be used, however, to raise arguments which
could have been raised prior to the issuance of the judgment,
nor may they be used to argue a case under a novel legal
theory that the party had the ability to address in the first
instance." Id. at 403 (internal citations
omitted). Rule 59(e) provides an "extraordinary remedy
that should be used sparingly." Id. (internal
citation omitted). The decision to alter or amend a judgment
is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Id. at 402.
judgment is appropriate if a party "shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material fact" and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In other words, summary judgment should
be granted "only when it is clear that there is no
dispute concerning either the facts of the controversy or the
inferences to be drawn from those facts."
Pulliamlnv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810F.2d 1282, 1286
(4th Cir. 1987). "In determining whether a genuine issue
has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities in favor of the nonmoving party."
HealthSouth Rehab. Hosp. v. Am. Natl Red Cross, 101
F.3d 1005, 1008 (4th Cir. 1996). The party seeking summary
judgment shoulders the initial burden of demonstrating to the
court that there is no genuine issue of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
the moving party has made this threshold demonstration, the
non-moving party, to survive the motion for summary judgment,
may not rest on the allegations averred in his pleadings.
Id. at 324. Rather, the non-moving party must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. Under this standard,
"[c]onclusory or speculative allegations do not suffice,
nor does a 'mere scintilla of evidence'" in
support of the non-moving party's case. Thompson v.
Potomac Elec. Power Co., 312 F.3d 645, 649 (4th Cir.
2002) (quoting Phillips v. CSX Transp., Inc., 190
F.3d 285, 287 (4th Cir. 1999)).
Product Defect Claims
South Carolina, "there are three defects a plaintiff in
a products liability lawsuit can allege: 1) a manufacturing
defect, 2) a warning defect, and 3) a design defect."
Watson v. Ford Motor Co.,699 S.E.2d 169, 174 (S.C.
2010). "When a manufacturing defect claim is made, a
plaintiff alleges that a particular product was defectively
manufactured." Id. "When a warning defect
claim is made, a plaintiff alleges that he was not adequately
warned of dangers inherent to a product." Id. A
product liability action "may be brought under several
theories, including negligence, strict liability, and
warranty. Bragg v. Hi-Ranger, Inc.,462 S.E.2d 321,
325 (S.C. Ct. App. 1995). To prevail on a claim under any
product liability theory, the plaintiff must satisfy three
elements: "(1) he was injured by the product; (2) the
injury occurred because the product was in a defective
condition, unreasonably dangerous to the user; and (3) that
the product at the time of the accident was in essentially
the same condition as when it left the hands of the
defendant." Id. at 326 (citation omitted).
Under a negligence theory, the plaintiff must also prove that