Courts apply a de novo standard when reviewing a grant of summary judgment. Summary judgment should be granted only if, based on the record as a whole and viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Once the moving party has presented evidence sufficient to support a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party is not entitled to trial merely on the basis of allegations; significant probative evidence must be presented to support the complaint.
Plaintiff executrix filed suit against defendant cleaning product company after decedent used defendant's product in combination with another cleaning product and died as a result of burned lungs. The district court granted summary judgment to defendant, finding that plaintiff was unable to show proximate cause between the labels on defendant's product and the injury because there existed warnings on the labels.
Did the court err in granting the summary judgment to the defendant?
Rule 56(e) entitles the defendants to summary judgment unless the plaintiff can come forward with sufficient evidence to rebut this presumption. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (if movant's motion is properly supported, summary judgment required unless non-movant can "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case"). Here the plaintiff has failed. There was no fact or opinion submitted which would establish a material issue necessary to rebut the statutory presumption of the adequacy of the Liquid Plumr or Sani-Flush warnings. Rather, plaintiff rested solely upon the allegations in her complaint that those warnings were inadequate.