United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division
DANIEL E. BRITTAIN, PLAINTIFF,
MOTOROLA MOBILITY, LLC, Defendant.
Kenneth D. Bell, United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Motorola
Mobility, LLC's (“Motorola” or
“Defendant”) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
No. 29), which Plaintiff Daniel Brittain
(“Plaintiff”) opposes. The Court has carefully
reviewed the Motion and considered the parties' briefs
and exhibits. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will
GRANT the motion and enter Summary Judgment
in favor of Defendant.
originally filed this action in Superior Court of Catawba
County against Lenovo (United States), Inc.
(“Lenovo”) and Motorola on June 28, 2017 (Doc.
No. 1-1.). Motorola and Lenovo removed the action to this
court on August 3, 2017. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff voluntarily
dismissed his claims against Lenovo on October 16, 2017.
(Doc. No. 14.)
styled this action as a product liability case based on two
distinct grounds: breach of implied warranty and negligence.
Plaintiff indicates in his Opposition to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment that he will not proceed with his
negligence-based claim. (Doc. No. 34, at 13.) Accordingly,
the only issue before the court is whether or not Defendant
is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's breach of
implied warranty claim.
undisputed facts are as follows: In December 2014, Plaintiff
purchased a Droid Turbo cellular telephone (the
“Phone”) manufactured by Motorola. (Doc. No. 30,
at 2.) Plaintiff subsequently experienced hearing loss
documented by physicians in March and April 2015.
(Id. at 4.) He testified that this hearing loss was
caused by the Phone emitting loud “firework”
sounds on two occasions. (Id. at 2-3.) The exact
dates of the two incidents are disputed, but it is clear that
the first one occurred in late-January or early-February,
2015, and the second occurred April 2015. (Id.) At
the time of both incidents, Plaintiff was performing a Google
search using an application on the Phone. (Id.) At
least the first incident occurred when Plaintiff pressed the
“search” button on the Phone's touchscreen.
(Id. at 2.) Plaintiff testified he did not notice
anything abnormal about the Phone when either incident
occurred, such as overheating or odor. (Id. at 2-3.)
After both incidents, the Phone reverted to normal function.
(Id.) Plaintiff continued to use the Phone until his
service contract expired. (Id. at 4.)
filed the instant Motion on October 29, 2018, seeking summary
judgment in its favor on all claims. The parties presented oral
arguments at a hearing before the Court on July 23, 2019.
This matter is now ripe for adjudication.
judgment must be granted “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. A factual dispute is considered genuine
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Vannoy v.
Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 827 F.3d 296, 300 (4th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Libertarian Party of Va. v.
Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013)).
party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact
through citations to the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, admissions or affidavits in the record.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986); Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club,
Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). “The
burden on the moving party may be discharged by
‘showing'. . . an absence of evidence to support
the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 325. Once this initial burden is met, the burden
shifts to the nonmoving party. The nonmoving party
“must set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial, ” Id. at 322 n.3. The
nonmoving party may not rely upon mere allegations or denials
of allegations in his pleadings to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Id. at 324.
ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the
evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Tolan v.
Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 657 (2014); see also
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. “Summary judgment
cannot be granted merely because the court believes that the
movant will prevail if the action is tried on the
merits.” Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the
Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting
10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller et al.,
Federal Practice & Procedure § 2728 (3d ed.1998)).
“The court therefore cannot weigh the evidence or make
credibility determinations.” Id. at 569
(citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French (In
re French), 499 F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007)).
“[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there
is no genuine issue for trial.” Ricci v.
DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009) (internal citations
omitted). “Only disputes over facts that might affect
the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. Also, the mere argued
existence of a factual dispute does not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion. Id. If the evidence is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment is appropriate. Id. at 249-50.
end, the question posed by a summary judgment motion is
whether the evidence as applied to the governing legal rules
“is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a
matter of law.” Id. at 252.