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Darcy v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations

May 8, 2007

ADAM J. DARCY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NEW JERSEY TRANSIT RAIL OPERATIONS, INC., DEFENDANT AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
ATLANTIC COUNTY IMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT AND FOURTH-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
SMG F/K/A SPECTATOR MANAGING GROUP, FOURTH-PARTY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kugler, United States District Judge

OPINION

Presently before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment by Third-Party Plaintiff New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc. ("NJT") and Third-Party Defendant Atlantic County Improvement Authority ("ACIA"), disputing the issue of whether ACIA is contractually obligated to indemnify NJT for any injuries suffered by Plaintiff Adam J. Darcy ("Plaintiff") that are found to have resulted from NJT's negligence. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will grant ACIA's motion and deny NJT's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a NJT employee, initiated this action against NJT by way of a Complaint filed on November 30, 2004. In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that on December 2, 2002, Plaintiff was descending a stairway in the parking lot of the rail terminal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when he fell down the stairs and suffered physical injuries as a result of NJT's negligence. On February 7, 2005, NJT filed a Third-Party Complaint against ACIA, claiming in part that in the lease agreement between the parties, ACIA agreed to indemnify NJT for its liability as to Plaintiff's injuries. On January 17, 2006, ACIA filed a Fourth-Party Complaint against Fourth-Party Defendant SMG.

II. STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied 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 law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists only if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When the Court weighs the evidence presented by the parties, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. See also Petruzzi's IGA Supermarkets, Inc. v. Darling-Delaware Co., 998 F.2d 1224, 1230 (3d Cir. 1993) ("[S]ummary judgment should be granted if, after drawing all reasonable inferences from the underlying facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court concludes that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be resolved at trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."). However, the nonmoving 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 (1986). Rather, to survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must "make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of [every] element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

III. DISCUSSION

At issue in these cross-motions is whether the language of the lease agreement between NJT and ACIA obliges ACIA to indemnify NJT for Plaintiff's injuries found to have resulted from NJT's negligence.

A. The Lease Agreement

The parties entered into a written lease agreement on March 12, 1986 and subsequently signed an amendment to this agreement on June 1, 1992. Article 12 of the amendment, entitled "Liability and Insurance," contains the language presently at issue. Section 12.01, entitled "General," reads in pertinent part as follows:

Financial responsibility for liability for personal injury or property damage which may result from activities conducted after the commencement of construction of the Convention Center Complex, which is hereby deemed to be June 1, 1992, shall be allocated between ACIA and NJ TRANSIT as follows in this Article; provided, however, that this Article shall not apply to any such liability which may arise out of activities or events which occurred prior to June 1, 1992. In no event will either party seek to recover loss of revenues from the other. The provisions of this Article shall apply regardless of negligence or fault. The party that has financial responsibility under this Article shall have sole responsibility for handling and defense of all such claims and resulting litigation. (NJT's Br., Horan Cert. Ex. B) (emphasis added).

Section 12.03 of the amendment is titled "ACIA's Sole Liability." It reads in pertinent part as follows:

Except for NJ TRANSIT's sole liability as set forth in Section 12.02 of this Agreement,*fn1 ACIA shall forever protect, defend, indemnify and hold NJ TRANSIT harmless from:

a) Any and all liability for injury or death of any revenue or non-revenue NJ TRANSIT passenger or NJ TRANSIT employee or any other person or persons or a corporation or entity, and for loss of, damage to, or destruction of their property, arising from the construction and existence of the Convention Center ...


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