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Everett v. Bankers Life and Casualty Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

January 9, 2015

ELEANOR L. EVERETT, Plaintiff,
v.
BANKERS LIFE AND CASUALTY CO., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT

JAMES L. ROBART, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the Defendant Bankers Life and Casualty Co. ("Bankers Life") motion for summary judgment. ( See Mot. (Dkt. # 1).) This is a slip-and-fall case: Plaintiff Eleanor L. Everett alleges that she injured her back in an incident that occurred in Bankers Life's supply room. Having considered the submissions of the parties, the balance of the record, and the relevant law, and no party having requested oral argument, [1] the court GRANTS Bankers Life's motion for summary judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

Ms. Everett alleges that, in August 2010, she injured her back in an accident at work. The evidentiary record supporting this claim, however, is sparse.

Ms. Everett worked as an independent contractor for Bankers Life, selling insurance. (Everett Decl. (Dkt # 19-2) Ex. C at 2; Everett Dep. (Dkt. # 18-6) at 56:2-11.) In her deposition, Ms. Everett testified that on August 26, 2010, she entered the "resource room" at Bankers Life's officer to look for forms. (Everett Dep. at 39:14-40:21.) She testified that the room was lined with cupboards, equipment, and boxes so that there was "just barely room to walk through." ( Id. ) She was, however, unable to describe or sketch the layout of the room. ( See id. at 47:22-52:1.) Pictures of the room as it exists today show a lighted, door-less room located at the end of a hallway; one side of the room contains a copy machine, the opposite side contains a counter with cabinets above and below, and the back of the room contains bookshelves. ( See Dkt. ## 18-8 through 18-12.). Exhibit 1 shows two boxes on the floor against the back wall. (Dkt. # 18-8.) Ms. Everett testified that at the time of her accident, the "whole area" in front of the cabinets shown in Exhibit 1"was full of boxes." ( See id. at 53:14-54:7, 56:9-15, Ex. 1.[2]) She did not recall how many boxes there were; she did not recall how high the boxes were stacked; she "guessed" that the boxes were the same size as the two boxes in Exhibit 1; she "believed" that the boxes were filled with papers like the boxes in Exhibit 1; and she "suspected" that they were "ordinary brown cardboard boxes." ( Id. at 54:8-55:6.)

With respect to the accident, Ms. Everett testified repeatedly that she tripped over a box and fell:

Q: Okay. So, you're in this resource room looking for forms. What happened?
A: I'm not absolutely positive. I tripped over something. I couldn't tell you now what it was, but I believe it was a box.
Q: Okay. And what happened when you tripped?
A: I don't understand.
Q: Well, did you fall to the ground? Did you catch yourself before you hit the ground?
A: I fell over-all I remember is falling, I think, over a box.

Id. at 40:22-41:7; see also id. at 42:5-10 (Q:... So, you tripped over what may have been a box; is that correct so far? A: Not entirely. Q: What have I misstated? A: You said "may have." I think I did trip over a box. There was nothing else to trip over."); id. at 44:7-9 ("Q: Okay. So, to go over this again, you tripped over what may have been a box. You're sure you tripped? A: Yes.").) She did not, however, recall whether she tripped over the ...


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