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Centuori v. United Parcel Service, Inc.

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

March 30, 2017



          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge.


         Before the court is Defendant United Parcel Service, Inc.'s ("UPS") motion for summary judgment. (Mot. (Dkt. # 12).) Plaintiff Mark Centuori opposes UPS's motion. (Resp. (Dkt. #17).) The court has considered the parties' briefing, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Considering itself fully advised, [1] the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part UPS's motion for summary judgment for the reasons articulated below and GRANTS UPS leave to file a Daubert[2] motion in the manner described below.


         This negligence action arises from personal injuries that Mr. Centuori incurred moving three packages that UPS misdelivered at his home. (See generally Compl. (Dkt. # 1-1).) UPS received those packages into "Pre-Load" on the morning of January 12, 2015. (Norby Decl. (Dkt. # 13) ¶ 3.) However, UPS discovered an improper address on the packages and redirected them to the Exception Capture System ("ECS") station. (Id.) At ECS, the clerks check approximately 1, 000 packages per day, approximately 200 of which are for Pre-Load. (Id. ¶ 5.) The clerks' task is to check addresses flagged as incorrect and, if necessary, generate new address information "based on information returned by UPS's internal address verification system." (Id. ¶ 4.)

         Assuming UPS applied its normal procedures to the three packages at issue, it would have redirected the packages to the ECS station because the shipper used a nonexistent address. (Id. ¶ 6.)[3] At the ECS station, UPS typically compares the improper address to its CardFile, which catalogues previously encountered addressing errors. (Id. ¶ 7.) If the addressing error had not been encountered previously, UPS performs a web address lookup on its internal system. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         Here, the shipper addressed the boxes to 14034 1st Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98177. (Id. ¶ 6.) As it turns out, this address contained an incorrect city and zip code; the proper address for the intended recipient was 14034 1st Avenue South, Burien, WA 98168. (Id.) However, UPS's web address lookup system appears to have concluded that the shipper had committed the common error of entering the wrong street direction. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) The web address lookup system determined that Mr. Centuori's address- 14034 1st Avenue Northwest, Seattle, WA 98177-was likely the intended address. (Id.) UPS printed "corrected" labels and delivered the boxes to Mr. Centuori's home on January 12, 2015. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         On the morning of January 17, 2015, Mr. Centuori discovered the boxes outside the side entrance of his home. (Poore Decl. (Dkt. # 14) ¶ 1, Ex. 1 ("Centuori Dep.") at 11:22-12:5.) Two of the boxes were stacked against the side door, and the third box was "in a tumbled position resting against the bottom step on the sidewalk to the porch." (Id. at 26:10-13; see also Id. at 28:21-23 ("There may have been a small gap, but the door was not able to be opened out.").) Although Mr. Centuori was "virtually certain" that the boxes were not intended for him when he saw them, he decided to move them because they were blocking the entrance to the house and the sidewalk that connects the front and back portions of his lot. (Id. at 39:10-40:14.)

         Although the boxes were "very heavy" (id. at 27:24, 31:21, 33:1-6), Mr. Centuori "maneuvered" each of them into his garage (id. at 27:18-19). He first removed the top stacked box by creating a "controlled tumble to get it on the ground." (Id. at 27:22-24; see also Id. at 30:24-31:1.) As he started moving the first box, Mr. Centuori "felt some pain and a sensation" in his lower back. (Id. at 42:19-43:9.) Mr. Centuori cannot quantify the amount of pain he felt. (Id. at 44:9-45:8.) Notwithstanding the pain, however, he moved all three boxes into his garage through some combination of "push[ing], " "pulling, " and "dragging." (Id. at 35:16-36:10.)

         Mr. Centuori contends that UPS was negligent by "(1) fail[ing] to follow its own internal policies and procedures in correcting an inconsistent address; (2) le[aving] the packages at Mr. Centuori's home without his consent; and (3) le[aving] the packages obstructing an entrance to [his] home." (Resp. at 1.) He asserts that he has "suffered significant and ongoing injuries, " including a herniated disc and spinal nerve impingement, as a result of UPS's negligence. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         Before turning to UPS's motion for summary judgment, the court addresses two evidentiary issues.

         A. Mr. Centuori's Motion to Strike

         Mr. Centuori moves to strike paragraphs 6 to 10 of Mr. Norby's declaration for lack of personal knowledge. (Resp. at 17-19); see also supra n.3. In paragraphs 6 through 10, Mr. Norby describes how UPS's typical address correction process would apply to the three boxes that UPS misdelivered to Mr. Centuori. (Norby Decl. ¶¶ 6-10.) Mr. Centuori argues that although Mr. Norby lays a foundation for testifying to UPS's typical practices, he lacks a foundation to conclude that UPS applied those practices to these three packages. (Resp. at 17-19.)

         The court agrees that Mr. Norby fails to lay a sufficient foundation to state what occurred to the packages at issue, but the court declines to strike the testimony. Instead, the court treats paragraphs 6 to 10 as background information regarding how UPS typically readdresses misaddressed packages, rather than as testimony regarding what occurred to the packages that UPS placed at Mr. Centuori's home.

         B. UPS's Motion to Strike

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 702, UPS moves to strike the declaration of Peter F. Wade, Mr. Centuori's shipment and delivery expert. (Reply (Dkt. # 19) at 10-12.) The court's analysis of UPS's motion for summary judgment does not hinge on the admissibility of Mr. Wade's testimony. See infra §§ III.C.3-4. Moreover, because UPS filed this de facto Daubert motion as a motion to strike in its reply brief, Mr. Centuori has not responded to the motion. See Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-94; Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(h) (disallowing a surreply in response to a motion to strike in the movant's reply brief). Mr. Centuori has therefore not had a meaningful opportunity to ...

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