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DuBois v. Coeur Alaska Inc.

United States District Court, D. Alaska

November 19, 2015

Jerry L. DuBois, Plaintiff,
v.
Coeur Alaska, Inc., d.b.a. Kensington Mine; Coeur Mining, Inc.; and Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp., Defendants.

ORDER AND OPINION [Re: Motions at Docket 33, 34]

JOHN W. SEDWICK SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

I. MOTION PRESENTED

Defendants Coeur Alaska, Inc., d.b.a. Kensington Mine, Coeur Mining, Inc., and Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. (collectively, “Coeur”) filed two motions for partial summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56(a). Coeur’s first partial summary judgment motion, at docket 33, seeks an order establishing that the actions of plaintiff Jerry L. DuBois (“DuBois”) amount to contributory negligence. DuBois opposes this motion at docket 47, and Coeur replies at docket 55.

Coeur’s second partial summary judgment motion, at docket 34[1], seeks an order establishing that DuBois lacks sufficient evidence to show that he has suffered a severe permanent physical impairment under AS 09.17.010(c). Coeur’s memorandum in support of this motion is at docket 35. DuBois opposes the motion at docket 46, and Coeur replies at docket 62.

At docket 63 DuBois filed a motion for leave of court to file affidavits from experts Terrance Dinneen and Robert R. Stephens in support his two oppositions. The court grated this motion at docket 65. Oral argument was not requested and would not assist the court.

II. BACKGROUND

DuBois was working as a mine safety inspector for the U.S. Department of Labor when he fell from a deck and was injured at Coeur’s Kensington Mine.[2] DuBois claims that the deck’s guard railing broke when he leaned against it, causing him serious injuries.[3] DuBois brought a negligence action against Coeur in state court, which Coeur removed to this court.[4]

DuBois’ complaint alleges that the railing was defective because, among other things, it was attached to the outside of its 4x4 support posts, meaning that “structural integrity of the guard rail relied entirely on the fasteners used to secure the railing and not on the actual strength of the rails themselves against the posts.”[5] DuBois also alleges that the railing’s metal fasteners were “rusted to the point of failure.”[6]

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Rule 56(a) authorizes motions for partial summary judgment upon any part of a claim or defense. Summary judgment is appropriate where “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”[7] The materiality requirement ensures that “only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”[8] Ultimately, “summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”[9] However, summary judgment is appropriate “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.”[10]

The moving party has the burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.[11] Where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, the moving party need not present evidence to show that summary judgment is warranted; it need only point out the lack of any genuine dispute as to material fact.[12] Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth evidence of specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial.[13] All evidence presented by the non-movant must be believed for purposes of summary judgment, and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in favor of the non-movant.[14] However, the non-moving party may not rest upon mere allegations or denials, but must show that there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute to require a fact-finder to resolve the parties’ differing versions of the truth at trial.[15]

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Comparative Fault is a Fact Question

Alaska’s comparative fault statute provides in ...

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