United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
HONORABLE GINA L. SIMMS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before this Court, by the parties' consent, is
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Plaintiff's Response in Opposition thereto. (ECF Nos. 30,
For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment is GRANTED.
following facts, appearing in both Plaintiff's deposition
and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, are
undisputed. On November 19, 2015, Plaintiff Wayne Lee Butts
(“Plaintiff”) boarded the F13 bus at the stop at
85th and Annapolis Road in New Carrolton. (Butts Dep. at 11,
15; ECF No. 31 at 1; ECF No. 30-2 at 3). After paying his
fare, Plaintiff grabbed onto a bar before making his way to
his preferred seat. (Butts Dep. at 19; ECF No. 30-2 at 5).
Plaintiff had both feet planted on the floor and was holding
the bar when the bus began to move. (Butts Dep. at 19, 21;
ECF No. 30-2 at 4). According to Plaintiff, the bus operator
“took off and you know jerked the bus to the
left.” (Butts Dep. at 18; ECF No. 30-2 at 5).
alleges that he landed on his head and back, sustaining
injuries. (Butts Dep. at 18, 21). Defendant does not address
the alleged injuries to Plaintiff. Thus, consistent with the
law regarding summary judgment motions, the facts related to
Plaintiff's injuries are construed in the light most
favorable to Plaintiff, the non-moving party.
filed his Complaint on March 29, 2017, alleging that he
suffered injuries as a result of Defendant Washington
Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
(“WMATA”)'s, negligence. (ECF No. 1).
Defendant filed its Answer on March 29, 2017. (ECF No. 5).
This case was assigned to me for All Further Proceedings on
November 17, 2017. On March 1, 2018, Defendant filed its
Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 19). On April 17, 2018,
Plaintiff filed his Opposition to Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 27). Defendant again filed its
Motion for Summary Judgment on August 22, 2018. (ECF No. 30).
Plaintiff filed his Opposition to Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment on August 22, 2018. (ECF No. 31), attaching
a supplemental memorandum of points and authorities.
Accordingly, the Motion pending before this Court is ripe for
Standard of Review
for summary judgment shall be granted only if there are no
genuine issues of material fact, such that 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). The moving party bears the burden of showing
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo
Properties, 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987)
(internal citation omitted). The burden can be satisfied
through the submission of discovery materials. Barwick v.
Celotex Corp., 736 F.2d 946, 958 (4th Cir. 1984). To
defeat motions for summary judgment, on the other hand, the
nonmoving party cannot simply cast “metaphysical
doubt” on the material facts, but rather must provide
specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue for trial.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P.
Court must construe the facts and documentary materials
submitted by the parties, including the credibility and
weight of particular evidence, in the light most favorable to
the party opposing the motions. Masson v. N.Y. Magazine,
Inc., 501 U.S. 495, 520 (1991) (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255)). A mere scintilla of
evidence is insufficient to create an issue of material fact.
See Barwick, 736 F.2d at 958-59. Summary judgment is
inappropriate if any material factual issue “may
reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.
establish a cause of action for negligence in Maryland, a
plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) defendant was under a
duty to protect the plaintiff from injury; (2) the defendant
breached that duty; (3) the plaintiff suffered actual loss or
injury; and (4) the loss or injury proximately resulted from
the defendant's breach of the duty. See Todd v. Mass.
Transit Admin., 373 Md. 149, 155 (2003) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Negligence is a relative
term and must be decided on the facts of each particular
case; ordinarily, it is a question of fact to be determined
by the jury. See Fowler v. Smith, 240 Md. 240, 246
Maryland law, a common carrier is not an insurer of the
safety of its passengers, but is bound to employ the highest
degree of care for their safety, consistent with the nature
of the undertaking. Mass Transit Admin. v. Miller,
271 Md. 256, 259 (1974). A common carrier owes its passengers
a duty to deliver them to their destination as expeditiously
as possible, consistent with safety. Id.
Court of Appeals of Maryland has held that after a passenger
is fairly aboard, an operator may resume his ordinary duties
as to operating the vehicle without further concern with the
movements of passengers within the car. Przyborowski v.
Balt. Transit Co., 191 Md. 63, 67 (1948). Conversely, it
is the duty of passengers, once on board, to protect
themselves against the normal motions of the vehicle.
Id. In Mass Transit Admin. v. Miller, the
same court held that a passenger, once on board a public
carrier, is under a duty to use reasonable care to protect
himself against the normal motions of the vehicles incident
to public transportation, and a plaintiff who attempts to
establish negligence on the part of the operator of a carrier
cannot prove negligence solely by the use of strong
adjectives or expletives characterizing a stop or a start.
271 Md. 256, 260 (1974). Plaintiff is required to offer
additional proof that creates a question as to whether the
plaintiff has established that the movement of the bus was
unusual or extraordinary. Id. (noting that the
plaintiff has the burden to produce such additional
instant case, Defendant contends that no genuine issues of
material fact exist and, therefore, it is entitled to Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 30-2 at 1). Defendant makes two arguments:
1) that Plaintiff has not offered any evidence that the start
of the bus was so abnormal or extraordinary to have
constituted negligence; and 2) that Plaintiff assumed the
risk that the bus would move forward and make other movements
before he had time to sit down. (ECF No. 30-2 at 3-6).
Plaintiff counters that there is a genuine issue of material
fact and, therefore, Defendant is not entitled to summary
judgment. (ECF No. 31 at 1). Specifically, Plaintiff argues
that the “jerking” of the bus from left to right
does not describe an ordinary and usual movement of a bus,
and thus, plaintiff alleges, the WMATA bus driver was
operating the bus in a negligent manner. Id.
Plaintiff relies on Washington Metropolitan Area