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Haile v. Hickory Springs Manufacturing Co.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 14, 2014

MUSIE W. HAILE, Plaintiff,
v.
HICKORY SPRINGS MANUFACTURING COMPANY, a North Carolina company; INTERNATIONAL FOAM SUPPLY, INC., a California corporation; SEA MASTER LOGISTICS, INC., a California corporation; INTERNATIONAL CONTAINER TERMINAL SERVICES, INC., a foreign corporation in the Philippines; SHENZHEN ZHONGFU TRADING COMPANY, a foreign corporation in China; JOHN DOE 1; JOHN DOE 2; JOHN DOE 3; JOHN DOE 4; and JOHN DOE 5, Defendants. HICKORY SPRINGS MANUFACTURING COMPANY, a North Carolina company, Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
PORTLAND CONTAINER REPAIR CORPORATION, an Oregon corporation, Third-Party Defendant.

Richard A. Mann, Joseph M. Mabe, Brownstein Rask, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

Jeffrey W. Hansen, Joseph A. Rohner IV, Smith Freed & Eberhard P.C. Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

GARR M. KING, District Judge.

In this diversity action, plaintiff Musie Haile brings a complaint for an injury he sustained while attempting to deliver an intermodal container packed with scrap foam to the property of defendant Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company ("Hickory"). When plaintiff opened the container, two pallets of cargo, weighing approximately 600 pounds each, knocked plaintiff to the ground.

Plaintiff alleges premises liability, the sole surviving claim, against Hickory. For the following reasons, I grant Hickory's Motion for Summary Judgment and dismiss this case.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff alleges he was Hickory's business invitee. He alleges Hickory owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect plaintiff from the unreasonable risk of dangerous and defective conditions posed by overseas shipments of containers, which it regularly received, and that it knew or should have known the cargo was not properly secured inside the container. He alleges Hickory failed to warn delivery drivers about unsecured cargo, and failed to implement protective measures to avoid injuring delivery drivers.

Plaintiff transported cargo as an independent contractor for Portland Container. Over the course of his five-year working relationship with Portland Container, plaintiff had handled 2, 431 loads-including 19 for Hickory. He had only delivered foam and nothing else to Hickory, although he often did not know what he was carrying until he opened the container upon arrival at the premises. The U.S. Department of Transportation licensed plaintiff as an interstate driver who could carry general freight and intermodal shipping containers.

Plaintiff reported the events from April 13, 2011, the day of his injury. He obtained the intermodal container and chassis for the load from Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland, then drove down Marine Drive, without making any stops, until he arrived at Hickory's property. He did not break the seal or open the doors prior to arriving at Hickory's premises. When he checked into the receiving office, a Hickory employee, Steve Hartwell, told plaintiff to cut the shipping seal and put the shipping container at a specific loading dock bay. Plaintiff does not remember receiving any other instruction or warning. He then drove around the back of the building. Plaintiff began backing up to the cargo door, stopped, got out, and walked toward the container's doors. Because he understood Hickory wanted the container open and available for its employees to unload, plaintiff cut the seal on the container. Plaintiff opened the rear right-hand door of the container, swung the right-hand door open and secured it to the side of the container. Plaintiff was able to see inside the shipping container and saw the foam. His deposition testimony gave little detail about the position of the foam, however.

Q. Did you stick your head into the container to see if there was anything pressing against the left-hand door?
A. There's no room to go in to see.
Q. Okay. Why not?
A. So the load and the door was ...

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