On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, L-57-04.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lisa and Holston, Jr.
Plaintiff, Frank David Siegel,*fn1 appeals from a summary judgment dismissing his complaint against defendants, County of Monmouth (County) and Port Imperial Ferry Corp. (Port Imperial) for injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell on ice in a parking lot owned by the County. Plaintiff was a daily commuter to New York City on a ferry operated by Port Imperial, which embarked from a terminal next to the parking lot. The terminal was owned by the County and subject to a licensing agreement with Port Imperial by which Port Imperial was authorized to conduct its ferry operations.
Plaintiff argues on appeal:
I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PORT IMPERIAL FERRY COMPANY AS THAT ENTITY, AS A COMMON CARRIER, AND A COMMERCIAL TENANT, HAS A NON-DELEGABLE DUTY TO PROVIDE A SAFE MEANS OF INGRESS AND EGRESS FOR ITS PATRONS.
II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF THE COUNTY OF MONMOUTH.
We reject these arguments and affirm.
Applying the Brill*fn2 standard, these are the facts. The County owns a tract of waterfront property on which it determined that an appropriate and beneficial public use of the land would include the operation of a ferry service for commuters to New York City. The County issued a request for proposals and selected Port Imperial for the award of a contract to conduct a "Primary Ferry Service." The County and Port Imperial entered into a "FERRY SERVICE AND LANDING AGREEMENT" for this purpose. The agreement authorizes Port Imperial to conduct a passenger ferry service from the ferry terminal owned by the County to certain designated sites in Manhattan. As consideration, Port Imperial was required to remit to the County a certain payment for each passenger and also a certain sum for each pound of cargo transported.
The County reserved the right to allow use by others of the ferry landing site for other purposes. Included was authorization to allow secondary operators to transport passengers to landing sites in New York other than those specified for Port Imperial. The County also reserved the right to authorize special operators to use the landing site to provide charter, weekend, sightseeing or banquet-type ferry service.
The agreement acknowledges the County's undertaking to construct a parking facility adjacent to the ferry terminal. Ferry passengers would be permitted to park in the parking lot free of charge. However, ferry passengers did not have exclusive rights to park in the lot, and Port Imperial was prohibited (without prior agreement of the County) from placing any signs in the parking lot. The parking lot was opened to members of the general public. Beachgoers, fishermen, sightseers, and any other member of the public wishing to use the lot were given unrestricted access.
The agreement provided that Port Imperial would provide ground transportation. Port Imperial operated shuttle buses to carry prospective passengers from remote areas of the parking lot to the ferry terminal building. The shuttle buses ran on public streets adjacent to the parking lot.
Relevant provisions of the agreement pertaining to responsibilities of the parties for the parking lot are contained in portions of paragraph eleven ...