The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hochberg, District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court on a motion for summary
judgment filed by Parks Corporation ("Parks") pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, seeking judgment in Parks' favor on the third
party complaint filed by third party plaintiff Netherwood
Finishing Station, Inc. ("Netherwood"). Parks also submits an in
limine motion to bar the testimony of Netherwood's expert at
trial. Additionally, this Court sua sponte consolidates the
Complaint filed by David J. Landis against Parks and Robert Forst
("Forst") on March 23, 2000, with the instant action.
For the reasons stated herein, this Court dismisses Count I of
the Complaint in civil action number 00-1379 (the "Second
Complaint") with prejudice, and dismisses Count II of that
Complaint without prejudice. Parks' motion for summary judgment
in Civil action number 99-1158 is granted and its in limine
motion is, therefore, denied as moot.
Subject matter jurisdiction is properly pled pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1330. The Court also has supplemental jurisdiction over
the state law claims in civil action number 99-1158 pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) because the state law claims in that action
are so related to the federal claims arising under
15 U.S.C. § 1261, et seq., the Federal Hazardous Substances Act ("FHSA"),
that together they form the same case or controversy.
Pursuant to Rule 56(c), a motion for summary judgment will be
if the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
See also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986). In other words, "summary judgment may be granted if the
movant shows that there exists no genuine issue of material fact
that would permit a reasonable jury to find for the nonmoving
party." Miller v. Indiana Hosp., 843 F.2d 139, 143 (3d Cir.
1988). All facts and inferences must be construed in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party. See Peters v. Delaware
River Port Auth. of Pa. and N.J., 16 F.3d 1346, 1349 (3d Cir.
Substantive law controls the inquiry into which facts are
"material." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505. An
issue is "genuine" if a reasonable jury could decide the issue in
the nonmovant's favor. Id. Thus, "[o]nly disputes over facts
that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law
will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id.;
accord Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. v. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d
Cir. 1999) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)).
However, at the summary judgment stage, this Court neither
weighs the evidence nor makes credibility determinations; these
tasks are within the sole domain of the fact-finder. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Therefore, to
demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the summary
judgment opponent need not produce evidence so strong that it
mandates a decision in its favor. Rather, the party opposing
summary judgement must adduce "evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the [nonmovant]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252, 106 S.Ct. 2505. "The mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of the [nonmovant's] position will be
insufficient." Id.; see also In re Headquarters Dodge,
13 F.3d 674, 679 (3d Cir. 1993). "Speculation and conclusory allegations
do not satisfy this duty." Ridgewood Bd. of Educ., 172 F.3d at
252 (citing Groman v. Township of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633
(3d Cir. 1995)).
It is clear that if a moving party satisfies its initial burden
of establishing a prima facie case for summary judgment, the
opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct.
1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). Instead, "[w]here the record taken
as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for
the nonmoving party, there is no `genuine issue for trial.'"
Id. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (quoting First National Bank of
Arizona v. Cities Service Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289, 88 S.Ct. 1575,
20 L.Ed.2d 569 (1968)).
David Landis ("Landis") is the owner of Netherwood, a company
specializing in finishing and re-finishing furniture. Landis has
twelve years of experience in the furniture finishing business;
he was trained by his father who had thirty-five years of
experience. On September 13, 1998, the day of the accident which
resulted in the instant litigation, Landis was working in the
home of Susan and Barry Gross as a sub-contractor for Lauderdale
Millwork Company ("Lauderdale"). Lauderdale was hired by the
Gross family to build a home at 67 Linden Lane in Chatham, New
On September 13, 1998, Landis was working in the library of the
Chatham House; he was using Parks Lacquer Thinner to strip stain
from the wood shelves. At some point prior to commencing his
work, Landis read the MSDS's, the instructions, and the warning
label for use of the Parks' product. While using Parks' product,
Landis asserts that he taped over the electrical outlets in the
room with painter's tape. However, at least one outlet was not
taped, because a fan and a radio were plugged in and operating
during Landis' application of the Parks product to the wood
shelving. During his work, Landis claims he heard a "pop" and
looked to his left where he saw a large ball of fire. The fire
spread quickly through the house and a large portion of the
residence was destroyed.
The investigation revealed that the cause of the fire was
unintentional and Pennsylvania General Insurance Company
("Pennsylvania"), as insurer of the Gross' home, re-imbursed the
Gross family for damage to the property. Pennsylvania then
commenced the instant suborgation action against Landis and
Netherwood, who, in turn, impleaded ...