United States District Court, District of Columbia
L. FRIEDRICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises from a slip and fall in front of the Willard
InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. Before the Court
are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment.
Dkts. 19, 21. For the reasons that follow, the Court will
grant the defendants' motion in part, deny it in part,
and deny the plaintiff's motion.
parties agree that Ruth Evangelista Boff slipped and fell on
a sidewalk in front of the Willard hotel during a rainstorm.
See Defs.' Statement of Material Facts Not in
Dispute ¶¶ 1, 3, Dkt. 19-1; Pl.'s Statement of
Material Facts in Dispute, Dkt. 20-3. But they disagree about
two factual details.
the parties dispute whether a hotel awning caused excess
rainwater to flow onto the public sidewalk where Boff fell. A
provision of the D.C. Building Code mandates that
“[d]rainage water collected from a roof,
awning, canopy or marquee . . . shall not flow
over a public walking surface.” D.C. Building Code ch.
32, § 3201.4 (2013) (emphasis in original). Boff claims
that, on the night of the incident, water flowed from the
hotel's awning onto a downward-sloping granite ramp in
the sidewalk, making it more slippery than normal.
See Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts in
Dispute; Pl.'s Responses to Defs.' First Set of
Interrogatories ¶¶ 2-5, Dkt. 20-6. The defendants,
however, insist that this spillover never happened. Although
they have no eyewitness who saw the incident, they
commissioned a mechanical engineer to inspect the
awning's design, including its drainage system.
See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. 4, Dkt. 19-7.
The engineer observed the drainage system in practice a few
months after Boff's fall and concluded that the awning
could not have caused rainwater to overflow onto the sidewalk
as Boff describes. Id. at 1, 4-12.
the parties dispute whether Boff was running after a taxi
when she fell. The defendants insist that video surveillance
footage and Boff's own deposition testimony conclusively
establish that Boff was running in the rain when she fell.
Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 11-12. Boff disagrees.
Although she answered “yes” in her deposition
when asked if she had “started to run”
when she fell, see Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. Ex.
2 at 43:21-22, 44:4, Dkt. 19-5 (emphasis added), she
maintains in a sworn affidavit that she was not actually
“running, ” see Boff Affidavit, Dkt.
20-2. Boff does not dispute the defendants' video
surveillance footage, but she argues that the footage is
“susceptible of divergent inferences” and does
not necessarily show that she was running. See
Pl.'s Opp'n & Partial Mot. for Summ. J. at 4
(quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247 (1986)).
17, 2017, Boff filed a negligence action against
Intercontinental Hotels Group Resources, Inc. in the Superior
Court of the District of Columbia, alleging that the
defendant breached its duty “to place the [hotel's]
awning so that it properly protected the ramp at the hotel
curb from rain and did not pour rainwater directly onto
it.” Compl. ¶ 11, Dkt. 1-1 at 10-12. On July 27,
2017, the defendant removed the action here and invoked the
Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1332, 1441; Defs.' Notice of Removal
¶¶ 3-7, Dkt. 1. Boff later amended her complaint to
add a second defendant: InterContinental Hotels Corporation.
See Am. Compl. ¶ 2, Dkt. 12.
defendants seek summary judgment because (1) Boff failed to
designate an expert witness to establish the relevant
standard of care, (2) Boff was contributorily negligent as a
matter of law, and (3) one of the two corporate
defendants-InterContinental Hotels Group Resources, Inc.-did
not own or control the hotel where Boff was injured.
See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at 3-13.
disputes the defendants' first two arguments but appears
to concede the third. See Pl.'s Opp'n &
Partial Mot. for Summ. J. at 2-3. Boff also cross-moves for
partial summary judgment on liability because the defendants
failed to rebut her allegation that water overflowed from the
awning onto the sidewalk in violation of the D.C. Building
Code. Id. at 3-4.
must grant summary judgment if the moving party “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); see also Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S.
at 247-48. A “material” fact is one with the
potential to change the substantive outcome of the
litigation. See Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 248;
Holcomb v. Powell, 433 F.3d 889, 895 (D.C. Cir.
response to a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving
party “must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “[T]he nonmoving party must
come forward with ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'” Id.
at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)) (emphasis added in
original). “Where the record taken as a whole could not
lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving
party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
diversity suit for negligence is governed by D.C. law,
including D.C.'s requirement that plaintiffs in certain
negligence cases establish the relevant standard of care
through expert testimony. See Burke v. Air Serv
Int'l, Inc., 685 F.3d 1102, 1105, 1109 (D.C. Cir.
2012). The Court's duty is “to achieve the same
outcome [that] would result if the District of Columbia Court
of Appeals considered this case.” Novak v. Capital
Mgmt. & Dev. Corp., 452 F.3d 902, 907 (D.C. Cir.
2006). To fulfill that obligation, the Court ...