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Papkee v. Quintel IV, LLC

Superior Court of Maine, Cumberland

August 8, 2016

CHRISTOPHER PAPKEE and PATRICIA PAPKEE, Plaintiffs,
v.
QUINTEL IV, LLC d/b/a McDONALD'S, Defendant.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          A.M. Horton, Justice.

         Defendant Quintel IV, LLC has moved for summary judgment on Plaintiffs Christopher and Patricia Papkee's claims for premises liability due to negligence and loss of consortium. The motion is opposed by Plaintiffs. The court elects to decide the motion without oral argument, see M.R. Civ. P. 7(b)(7).

         Based on the entire record, Defendant's motion for summary is granted.

         I. Background

         For the purposes of summary judgment, the following facts are not in dispute. Plaintiffs Christopher and Patricia Papkee are husband and wife. (Pis. Add'l S.M.F. ¶ 12; Def Reply S.M.F. ¶ 12.) On November 9, 2009, Mr. Papkee stopped lunch at a McDonald's restaurant operated by Defendant located on St. John Street in Portland, Maine (the "St. John Street McDonald's"). (Id. ¶ 13.) After ordering food, Mr. Papkee went to the restroom in the restaurant. (Id. ¶ 14.) When Mr. Papkee began to pull toilet paper from the toilet paper dispenser, Mr. Papkee felt a sharp object poke his hand. (Id. ¶ 15.) When Mr. Papkee removed his hand a hypodermic and syringe needle fell out of the dispenser and jabbed his hand again. (Id. ¶ 16.) The syringe of the needle appeared to contain blood. (Id. ¶ 17.) Mr. Papkee alerted an employee or manger who in the restroom at that time. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) A janitor opened the toilet paper dispenser and found a spoon with a white powdery substance on it. (Id. ¶ 22.) Mr. Papkee sought medical treatment was prescribed medications to reduce the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 27.) Mr. Papkee suffered a number of side effects from the medication and other pain and suffering and was unable to work as a result of the incident. (Id. ¶¶ 28-31.)

         Plaintiffs' two-count complaint, filed October 30, 2015, alleges that Defendant is liable for premises liability and loss of consortium. Plaintiffs amended their complaint on December 7, 2015, but did not change the theories of liability. Defendant moved for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' claims on June 3, 2016. Plaintiffs filed their opposition to summary judgment on July 1, 2016.[1] After an enlargement of time, Defendant filed its reply on July 15, 2016.

         II. Analysis

         A. Standard of Review

         Summary judgment is appropriate if, based on the parties' statements of material fact and the cited record, there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. M.R. Civ. P. 56(c); Dyer v. Dep't of Transp., 2008 ME 106, ¶ 14, 951 A.£d 821. "A material fact is one that can affect the outcome of the case. A genuine issue of material fact exists when the [Tact finder] must choose between competing versions of the truth." Dyer, 2008 ME 106, ¶ 14, 951 A.2d 821 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id.

         If the moving party's motion for summary judgment is properly supported, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to respond with specific facts indicating a genuine issue for trial in order to avoid summary judgment. M.R. Civ. P. 56(e). "To withstand a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case for each element of their cause of action." Watt v. UniFirst Corp., 2009 ME 47, ¶ 21, 969 A.2d 897 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). If a plaintiff fails to present sufficient evidence on the essential elements, then the defendant is entitled to a summary judgment. Id.

         Maine Rule of Civil 56 requires that motions for and opposition to summary judgment must be supported separate, short, and concise statements of material facts. M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)(1)-(2). Each assertion of fact set forth in a statement of material facts must be supported by a citation to the specific page or paragraph of identified record evidence supporting the assertion. M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)(4). The record evidence cited must be "of a quality that could be admissible at trial." Levine v. R.B.K. Caly Corp., 2001 ME 77, ¶ 6, 770 A.2d 653. The court may disregard any assertions of fact not properly supported. M.R. Civ. P. 56(h)(4).

         B. Premises Liability

         Count I of the complaint sets forth a claim against Defendant for premises liability.

         "The elements of premises liability, as with any claim for negligence, include: (1) duty, (2) breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) harm to the plaintiff." Durham v. HTH Corp., 2005 ME 53, ¶ 8, 870 A.2d 577. A possessor of land owes a duty of reasonable care to provide safe premises to all persons lawfully on the land and to guard against all reasonably foreseeable dangers. Coffin v. Lariat Assocs., 2001 ME 33, ΒΆ 8, 766 A.2d 1018. A possessor of land breaches that duty and is liable for any physical harm caused to persons lawfully on the land by a dangerous condition on the land if: (a) the possessor of land knew or by the exercise of reasonable care should have discovered the dangerous condition and should have realized that it involved an unreasonable risk of harm to others; (b) the possessor of land should have expected that others would not discover the danger or would fail to ...


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