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M.C. v. Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, LLC

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 30, 2016

M.C., an infant by her father and natural guardian, JOHN CATAPANO, and JOHN CATAPANO, Individually, and D.C., an infant by her mother and natural guardian, CHRISTINE CATAPANO and CHRISTINE CATAPANO, Individually, Plaintiffs,


          MARK G. MASTROIANNI United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         This case began as a lawsuit brought in the Eastern District of New York by the parents of two minor children who sustained severe injuries in August of 2012 while riding an Alpine Coaster (“Coaster”) manufactured and installed by Wiegand Sports, LLC (“Wiegand) and operated by defendant Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, LLC (“Jiminy”). The parents asserted various claims including negligence claims against both Jiminy and Wiegand and products liability claims against Wiegand. The case was transferred to this court by the agreement of the parties. Jiminy and Wiegand filed cross-claims against each other, asserting each entity was obligated to indemnify the other pursuant to language in the parties' 2007 contract for the purchase and installation of the Coaster and the common law doctrines of contribution and indemnification. Jiminy and Wiegand resolved the claims made by the parents through a single settlement which did not tie the payments to the merits of any particular claims. The parties subsequently filed a stipulation of dismissal with respect to most claims, leaving only the cross-claims between Jiminy and Wiegand.[1] Before the court are cross-motions for summary judgment as to the cross-claims.[2] Each party argues the other has an obligation to indemnify it and pay its defense costs in connection with this suit.

         II. Jurisdiction

         Federal courts have jurisdiction over suits brought pursuant to state law where there is complete diversity of citizenship between the adversaries and the amount in controversy exceeds a threshold amount of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 513 (2006). Where there is a basis for federal jurisdiction over the original claims in a suit, this court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction as to related claims that “form part of the same case or controversy, ” including cross-claims asserted pursuant to Rule 13 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Plaintiffs, all New York residents, sought damages in excess of the statutory amount from Jiminy, a limited liability company organized in Massachusetts, and Wiegand, a limited liability company organized in Utah, neither of whom have members who reside in New York, [3] thereby establishing federal jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. As the dispute between Jiminy and Wiegand arises from their respective obligations to compensate each other for the costs incurred defending the underlying suit, this court exercises supplemental jurisdiction over their cross-claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

         III. Summary Judgment Standard

         At the summary judgment stage, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party “and draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” CNE Direct, Inc. v. Blackberry Corp., 821 F.3d 146, 148 (1st Cir. 2016). “Summary judgment is permissible only when examination of the record in that light reveals ‘no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'” Flovac, Inc. v. Airvac, Inc., 817 F.3d 849, 853 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). “‘A dispute is genuine if the evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the non-moving party. A fact is material if it has the potential of determining the outcome of the litigation.'” Patco Const. Co. v. People's United Bank, 684 F.3d 197, 206-07 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Rodriguez-Rivera v. Federico Trilla Reg'l Hosp. of Carolina, 532 F.3d 28, 30 (1st Cir. 2008)). “Cross-motions for summary judgment require the district court to ‘consider each motion separately, drawing all inferences in favor of each non-moving party in turn.'” AJC Int'l, Inc. v. Triple-S Propiedad, 790 F.3d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 2015) (quoting D & H Therapy Assocs., LLC v. Bos. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 640 F.3d 27, 34 (1st Cir. 2011)).

         IV. Material Facts

         A. The Parties' Contract

         In December 2006, Jiminy and Wiegand entered into a Consulting, Purchase, Delivery, Assembly, and Inspection Contraction (“Contract”). (Dkt. No. 70-1, Weigand's Statement of Material Facts, Ex. A, Contract.) The Contract provided for Jiminy's purchase of the Coaster and Wiegand's installation of the Coaster at Jiminy's resort in Massachusetts. The Contract is to be interpreted in accordance with Massachusetts law. (Id. at §18.) Under the heading “Indemnification, ” the Contract provides:

[I]n the event of a product liability suit against [Weigand], [Wiegand] shall, at its own expense, defend any suit or proceeding brought against [Jiminy] and shall fully protect and indemnify [Jiminy] against any and all losses, liability, cost, recovery, or other expense in or resulting from such . . . suit (provided, however, [Jiminy] has fully performed all ongoing maintenance obligations).

(Id. at § 12.A. (1).)

         The following paragraph provides:

[Jiminy] agrees to protect, indemnify, defend and hold [Wiegand] harmless from and against any and all losses of [Wiegand] arising out of or sustained in each case, directly or indirectly, from any breach of representation, covenant of [Jiminy] made herein or any default by [Jiminy] hereunder, including without limitation, from defective/bad maintenance and/or operation of [the Coaster] caused by [Jiminy's] gross negligence or willful misconduct, (except to the extent such maintenance and/or operation was in ...

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