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Mansaray v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

January 10, 2014

ISATU MANSARAY, Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM CONNELLY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Isatu Mansaray ("Ms. Mansaray") brought this action against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority ("WMATA") alleging negligence and seeking $20, 000.00 in damages. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings in the case and the entry of a final judgment. See ECF No. 11. The case thereafter was referred to the undersigned. See ECF No. 13. Pending before the court and ready for resolution is WMATA's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 21). Ms. Mansaray filed an opposition (ECF No. 24). The deadline for WMATA to file a reply elapsed on December 5, 2013. No hearing is deemed necessary and the court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011).

BACKGROUND[1]

On May 24, 2011 Ms. Mansaray stood at a bus stop on Cherry Hill Lane in Laurel, Maryland, along with at least two other individuals, waiting for the bus. Between 11:25-11:30 a.m., a WMATA bus, Route 89M, traveling to Greenbelt, arrived at the bus stop. Ms. Mansaray was the last individual at the stop to board the bus. Ms. Mansaray described the sequence of events.

A: When I got in, we have a [SmarTrip] card that we slot in the bus. So as soon as I pressed my [SmarTrip] card I was going in to look for a seat. I was looking onto the bus looking for a seat. The driver took off like in an aggressive way. He made a solid turn right. So he moved quickly and the turn was - he didn't wait for me to sit. The turn was sudden. Even though I was holding onto the bar, I struggled and I tried to sit holding onto the bar.
Q: Okay.
A: So I fell down. I fell down.
Q: Okay.
A: When I fell, the passengers in the bus was [sic] yelling that somebody had fallen. He continued to move. People on the bus were yelling and saying, Don't you see that somebody has fallen down, don't you see that somebody has fallen down before he stopped.
Q: Okay.
A: So he continued for a while before he stopped. When he stopped, the people on the bus, passengers, came to help me up. When they were trying to pick me up, I was shouting because I was hurting because I hit myself, so I started crying.

ECF No. 21-1 at 4-5 (Mansaray Dep. 13:22-14:22); ECF No. 24-2 at 4-5 (Mansaray Dep. 13:22-14:22).

Ms. Mansaray had entered the bus and walked past the designated seating for the elderly and disabled. As she approached the area where regular seating began, the bus operator suddenly drove forcefully. Ms. Mansaray attempted to sit in an available seat but fell as the bus operator drove in a rough manner. ECF No. 21-1 at 6 (Mansaray Dep. 19:15-20:19); ECF No. 24-2 at 6 (Mansaray Dep. 19:5-20:19).

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

This Court has original jurisdiction over this civil action based on Federal Question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, specifically, pursuant to Section 81 of the WMATA Compact, Section 80 Stat. 1350, Pub. L. 89-774 (November 6, 1996), as outlined in Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 10-204(81), which states:

The United States District Courts shall have original jurisdiction, concurrent with the courts of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, of all actions brought by or against the Authority and to enforce subpoenas issued under this title. Any such action initiated in a State or District of Columbia court shall be removable to the appropriate United States District Court in the manner provided by Act of June 25, 1948, as amended (28 U.S.C. 1446).

Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2). The court notes WMATA removed this case from state court to federal court. See ECF No. 1.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

A motion for summary judgment will be granted only if there exists no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In other words, if there clearly exist factual issues "that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party, " then summary judgment is inappropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250; see also Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Properties, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987); Morrison v. Nissan Motor Co., 601 F.2d 139, 141 (4th Cir. 1979); Stevens v. Howard D. Johnson Co., 181 F.2d 390, 394 (4th Cir. 1950). The moving party bears the ...


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