Powers and Marlink Prevail On Motion For Summary Judgment – Stover v. Sherrill

Brian Powers headshot Katherine Marlink headshotPlaintiff Stover filed an action in Placer County Superior Court alleging injuries as the result of a physical altercation between himself and his neighbor, Mr. Sherrill. In addition to naming Mr. Sherrill as a defendant in the matter, the plaintiff named as defendants a guest on the neighbor’s property Mr. Colaw, who he alleged intervened in the fight escalating it and causing him further injury, and Mrs. Sherrill, against whom he alleged she had breached her duty in purposefully directing Mr. Colaw to intervene to cause injury to the plaintiff. J. Brian Powers and Katherine L. Marlink of Powers Miller represented Mrs. Sherrill in the action.

The facts of the fight were heavily disputed among the parties but it was generally accepted that angry words between Mr. Stover and Mr. Sherrill eventually led to a physical altercation. Following the completion of the plaintiff’s deposition, J. Brian Powers and Katherine L. Marlink filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of Mrs. Sherrill contending that the plaintiff was unable to meet his burden of presenting any facts to demonstrate liability on the part of Mrs. Sherrill. Specifically, the undisputed facts failed to show that Mrs. Sherrill had instructed Mr. Colaw to harm the plaintiff and, absent such an affirmative action, there was no basis to impose liability against Mrs. Sherrill.

Plaintiff opposed the motion for summary judgment and oral argument was held. Katherine L. Marlink appeared on behalf of Mrs. Sherrill. The court agreed with the arguments set forth on behalf of Mrs. Sherrill holding that the undisputed facts did not merit the imposition of liability in this matter and Mrs. Sherrill was entitled to summary judgment in her favor. The undisputed facts established that while Mrs. Sherrill had asked Mr. Colaw to intervene to separate the plaintiff and her husband; such request was made for the purposes of preventing further harm to either party. Therefore, it was not foreseeable that the intervention could potentially result in further harm to the plaintiff negating any potential for liability. Further, it was agreed that Mr. Stover failed to present any facts that supported his contention that Mrs. Sherrill had directly asked Mr. Colaw to cause injury to the plaintiff preventing the finding of liability on these grounds.

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