United States District Court, D. Maryland
Catherine C. Blake United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Dorita Reyen, has filed a diversity action
sounding in negligence against Jones Lang Lasalle Americas,
Inc. (“Jones Lang”) and Megabus Northeast, LLC
(“Megabus”). Her claims arise from injuries
sustained when she “lost her balance and fell” on
an escalator inside Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Compl.
¶¶ 3, 14, ECF No. 1). Now pending are separate
motions for summary judgment filed by Jones Lang and Megabus.
(Jones Lang Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 19; Megabus Mot. Summ. J.,
ECF No. 20). Ms. Reyen opposed them, (Resp. Opp'n Mot.
Summ. J., ECF No. 26), and Jones Lang replied, (Jones Lang
Reply, ECF No. 27). No oral argument is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons
set forth below, the court will grant both motions for
Reyen has a disability that requires her to walk with a cane.
(Jones Lang Mot. Summ. J. Ex. A, Reyen Dep. 84-85). On June
17, 2013, she purchased a bus ticket from Megabus in order to
travel from her home near Syracuse, New York, to her
sister's home in Virginia on July 9, 2013. (Compl. ¶
7; Reyen Dep. 16). Because her itinerary required her to
change buses several times, Ms. Reyen notified Megabus of her
disability in advance and advised Megabus that she would need
help getting on and off buses and when removing her luggage
from bus storage compartments. (Reyen Dep. 84, 129-30,
148-49). In response, Megabus indicated she would receive
assistance getting from one bus to the next. (Id.
way to Virginia, the bus on which Ms. Reyen traveled
performed a scheduled stop at Union Station. (Id.
82-83). All passengers continuing to Virginia had to
disembark, wait about five hours, and then board a different
bus to continue the journey. (Id.). Once the bus
parked on the Union Station bus deck,  the plaintiff
disembarked, retrieved her luggage, and headed into Union
Station to pass the time during the layover. (Id.
90-91). Ms. Reyen knew that, because she “had trouble
even walking on flat floor, ” escalators were
“dangerous” for her because they could cause her
to fall and harm herself. (Id. 87-89). She thus
sought to avoid them. After alighting on the bus deck, Ms.
Reyen looked for an elevator to transport her down into Union
Station but was unable to find one. (Id. 92, 94,
141, 156). For that reason, she felt forced to use an
escalator to descend one level to the mezzanine level, (see
id. 88, 145), although Ms. Reyen appears unsure if
an elevator in fact existed that could have taken her into
Union Station, (see Id. 94, 141, 144-46).
Reyen fared no better within Union Station. After taking an
escalator down to the mezzanine level (id. 93), she
could not locate an elevator to take her down to the main
level. Ms. Reyen does not dispute that several such elevators
exist now. (Id. 105-06, 160; Jones Lang Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. B, Polhemus Dep. ¶¶ 18-28, ECF No. 19-2).
But on the day in question, the plaintiff claims an elevator
between the mezzanine and main levels either did not exist,
(Reyen Dep. 96, 98-99, 106, 144), or was not accessible,
(see Id. 108-111). In the latter case, construction
materials on the mezzanine level may have obscured her
ability to see and/or access one particular elevator, she
claims. (Id.). The “area” where this
elevator is now located was “blocked off from public
access” by a “wall of plywood” that she
could not get past on the day she suffered harm.
(Id.). The plaintiff thus felt compelled to risk
an escalator for a second time in order to descend to the
main level. (Id. 111).
Reyen located an elevator to take her down to the lower level
and then back up to the main level. (Id. 103-105).
On the main level, she again searched for an elevator to take
her from the main level to the mezzanine level (from which
she could access the bus deck), because she continued to
believe one existed. (See Id. 157-58). Sadly, she
could not locate elevators or elevator signs, (id.
113, 121), perhaps because of construction materials,
(id. 111-12). Again, the plaintiff does not know if
there was an elevator she could not locate. (Id.
she had no other choice, (id. 113), Ms. Reyen
attempted to ride up an escalator from the main level to the
mezzanine level. After taking one step on the escalator,
unfortunately, she fell backwards, (id. 113), and
sustained injuries, (see Id. 33-51).
Reyen claims both defendants are liable in negligence.
(Compl. ¶¶ 20-26). Jones Lang, the property manager
of Union Station, (Jones Lang Mot. Summ. J., Mem. of Law 9,
ECF No. 19-1; see Compl. ¶ 3), failed to ensure
elevators were accessible, (Resp. Opp'n Mot. Summ. J.
9-11), and thus negligently failed to provide safe passage
between the bus deck and Union Station facilities, she
claims, (Compl. ¶¶ 21-23). Ms. Reyen also claims
Jones Lang negligently failed to provide adequate elevator
signage. (See Id. ¶¶ 12, 22; Resp.
Opp'n Mot. Summ. J. 10).
Reyen claims Megabus negligently failed to safely deliver her
to her destination, even though it stated she would receive
assistance. (Compl. ¶¶ 25-26; Resp. Opp'n Mot.
Summ. J. 11-12). But Ms. Reyen did not expect Megabus to
escort her into Union Station, (Reyen Dep. 130, 144-46);
spend time with her in Union Station, (id. 147,
149); or help her navigate from Union Station facilities to
the next bus, (id. 139-40, 150-51). Megabus also
negligently failed to help her once it was clear Jones Lang
may fail in its duties, she claims. (Compl. ¶ 26).
court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action under
28 U.S.C. § 1332. Ms. Reyen asserts, and the defendants
do not dispute, that venue in this District is proper
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391, because the defendants are
Maryland residents under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c)(2). (Compl.
¶¶ 3-6). As a federal court sitting in diversity,
this court applies Maryland choice-of-law rules, see
Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487,
496-97 (1941), which provide that the applicable substantive
law is the law of the place of the harm, Wells v.
Liddy, 186 F.3d 505, 521 (4th Cir. 1999). Here, this
court thus applies the substantive law of the District of
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment
should 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) (emphases added). “A dispute is
genuine if ‘a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party.'” Libertarian Party of
Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Dulaney v. Packaging Corp. of Am., 673 F.3d 323, 330
(4th Cir. 2012)). The court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Tolan v.
Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866 (2014) (per curiam), and
draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor,
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (citations
omitted); see also Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the
Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2015). At the
same time, the court ...