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Dexter Lanigan and Jamie Lanigan v. Marina District Development Company

March 28, 2011

DEXTER LANIGAN AND JAMIE LANIGAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARINA DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, LLC, TRADING AS
BORGATA HOTEL CASINO & SPA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hillman, District Judge

OPINION

Presently before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims concerning an assault that occurred on defendant's premises. For the reasons expressed below, defendant's motion will be granted.

BACKGROUND

On December 17, 2006 at 2:00am, plaintiff Dexter Lanigan entered the elevator at the Borgata Hotel and Casino, where he was staying the night after an evening of dining and gambling. When he boarded the elevator, four men were already on it. Plaintiff engaged the men in a friendly conversation regarding the upcoming football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. It appeared to plaintiff that three of the men were Giants fans, as they were criticizing a certain Eagles player, while the other male supported plaintiff's point-of-view as an Eagles fan. Plaintiff relates that his interaction with these men was calm and casual.

When the elevator reached plaintiff's floor--the 25th--the man behind plaintiff who had appeared to be a fellow Eagles fan suddenly wrapped one of his arms around plaintiff's neck and twisted him to the left side of the elevator. The man twisted plaintiff out of the elevator, followed by the three other men. Plaintiff claims that he was plunged into a statue and then choked, punched, and kicked by all four men. The four men then ran down the hallway, and have never been identified or apprehended. Plaintiff believes that the reason he was assaulted was because he was an Eagles fan. As a result of the assault, plaintiff suffered an injury to his right arm, as well as permanent injury to his lower back.

Plaintiff, along with his wife, Jamie Lanigan, subsequently filed a complaint against defendant Marina District Development Company, LLC, which operates the Borgata. Plaintiff claims that defendant is liable for Mr. Lanigan's injuries because it was negligent in its duty of care to protect him, a business invitee, from a known dangerous condition. Additionally, plaintiffs claim that defendant breached its implied contract with plaintiffs to provide a safe and secure environment. Mrs. Lanigan has also lodged a claim for loss of consortium.

Defendant has moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs have not identified any facts that must be presented to a jury for determination as to whether defendant breached its duties to plaintiffs. Defendant has also moved for judgment in its favor on plaintiffs' other two claims. Plaintiffs have opposed defendant's motion.

DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because there is complete diversity of citizenship between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate where the Court is satisfied that "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 law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 (1986); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).

An issue is "genuine" if it is supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In considering a motion for summary judgment, a district court may not make credibility determinations or engage in any weighing of the evidence; instead, the non-moving party's evidence "is to be believed and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Marino v. Industrial Crating Co., 358 F.3d 241, 247 (3d Cir. 2004)(quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57. A party opposing summary ...


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