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Ramirez v. General Growth Properties, Inc.

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 16, 2013

JAVIER RAMIREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
GENERAL GROWTH PROPERTIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

OPINION & ORDER

FAITH S. HOCHBERG, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon six motions for summary judgment by various defendants. The following motions for summary judgment are before the Court:

• Defendant J.A. Salerno Sr. & Sons, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment of no liability, or, in the alternative, summary judgment of indemnification by Defendant AMBS, Inc. (Dkt. No. 64). AMBS, Inc. opposes the motion for indemnification.
• Defendant Starbucks Corp.'s motions for summary judgment of no liability (Dkt. No. 66) and summary judgment of indemnification from Defendant ABMS, Inc. (Dkt. No. 69). ABMS, Inc. has not opposed the motion for indemnification.
• Defendant ABMS, Inc.'s motion for summary judgment of no liability (Dkt. No. 68). Plaintiff opposes this motion.
• Defendant General Growth Properties, Inc.'s motions for summary judgment of no liability (Dkt. No. 71) and summary judgment of indemnification from Defendant J.A. Salerno Sr. & Sons, Inc., ABMS, Inc., and Starbucks Corp. (Dkt. No. 67). Defendants J.A. Salerno Sr. & Sons, Inc. and Starbucks Corp. oppose the motion for indemnification.

With the exception of ABMS, Inc.'s motion regarding liability, Plaintiff has not opposed these motions. The Court has reviewed the submissions of the parties and considered the motion on the papers in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff Javier Ramirez ("Ramirez" or "Plaintiff") sustained an injury to his foot while performing demolition at Woodbridge Center Mall ("the Mall") inside a Starbucks Corp. location. (Pl.'s Compl., ¶¶ 9, 19.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants General Growth Properties, Inc. ("GGP"), Starbucks Corp. ("Starbucks"), J.A. Salerno Sr. & Sons, Inc. ("Salerno"), MLN Contractors, Inc. ("MLN"), and ABMS Inc. ("ABMS") were negligent, thereby causing his injuries. (Pl.'s Compl., ¶¶ 21-22.)

Starbucks rents its space from GGP, the Mall owner. On March 15, 2011, Starbucks entered into a general construction contract with Salerno. Salerno was to serve as the general contractor for Starbucks. In turn, Salerno entered into a subcontract with ABMS for work at the Starbucks location in the Mall. Plaintiff alleges that he was working for ABMS when he was injured.

On March 10, 2012, Plaintiff was injured while demolishing the ceiling in the Starbucks located in the Mall. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that while demolishing the ceiling, a portion of the ceiling fell, knocked him off of a lift, causing him to fall to the ground and become injured.

II. STANDARD OR REVIEW

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a motion for summary judgment will be granted 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 judgment as a matter of law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In other words, "[s]ummary judgment may be granted only if 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. Peters v. Delaware River Port Auth., 16 F.3d 1346, 1349 (3d Cir. 1994). The judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. "Consequently, the court must ask whether, on the summary judgment record, reasonable jurors could find facts that demonstrated, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the nonmoving party is entitled to a verdict." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litigation, 916 F.2d 829, 860 (3d Cir. 1990).

The party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of production. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. This burden requires the moving party to establish either that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party must prevail as a matter of law, or to demonstrate that the nonmoving party has not shown the requisite facts relating to an essential element of an issue on which it bears the burden. Id. at 322-23. Once the party seeking summary judgment has carried this initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party.

To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party must then demonstrate facts supporting each element for which it bears the burden, and it must establish the existence of a "genuine issue of material fact" justifying trial. Miller, 843 F.2d at 143; accord Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. 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). "Where 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 (quoting First National Bank of Arizona v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968)). Further, summary judgment may be granted if the nonmoving party's "evidence is merely colorable or is not significantly probative." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Liability

Plaintiff's claims rest of allegations of negligence. Under New Jersey law, a plaintiff must show four elements to establishing negligence: (1) a duty of care; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) proximate cause; and (4) actual damages. Weinberg v. Dinger, 106 N.J. 469, 484 (1987) ("A cause of action ...


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