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[SUPREME] David and Tammy Branscomb v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, et al., No. 20S-CQ-00515

Thursday, November 19, 2020 9:00am to 9:40am

[SUPREME] David and Tammy Branscomb v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, et al., No. 20S-CQ-00515

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The Branscombs filed a complaint in the Huntington Circuit Court alleging David was injured when he tripped and fell over a wood pallet in the Huntington Walmart store. They named as defendants Wal-Mart Stores East and the Huntington store manager, James Clark, who, like the Branscombs, is an Indiana resident. Defendants removed the case to federal court based on diversity of citizenship, alleging the Branscombs have no cause of action against Clark and the doctrine of fraudulent joinder therefore applies and permits the federal court to dismiss Clark. The Branscombs filed a motion asking the federal court to remand the case to the Huntington Circuit Court.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana has certified the following questions: “May a plaintiff bring a claim in negligence against a store manager, not directly involved in the plaintiff’s accident, based on a delegation of the premises owner’s duties toward invitees, Indiana agency law, or any other legal principle? If so, what is the scope of that duty?” The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted the certified questions.

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