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Lamar v. Crown Building Maintenance Co.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

October 20, 2017

CAROLYN LAMAR, Plaintiff,
v.
CROWN BUILDING MAINTENANCE CO. d/b/a ABLE BUILDING MAINTENANCE, JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC., Defendants. ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Counter Claimant,
v.
JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC., Counter Defendant. JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC., Cross Claimant,
v.
CROWN BUILDING MAINTENANCE CO., Cross Defendant. JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC., Third Party Plaintiff,
v.
ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, Third Party Defendant.

          ORDER

          HON. JANE MAGNUS-STINSON CHIEF JUDGE.

         This case arises out of an accident suffered by Plaintiff Carolyn Lamar. She alleges that she slipped and fell on a puddle of wet floor wax in the medical clinic in which she worked. Ms. Lamar has sued Johnson Controls, Inc. (“JCI”), the contractor responsible for the clinic's facilities maintenance, and Crown Building Maintenance Company, d/b/a Able Building Maintenance (“Crown”), the company subcontracted by JCI to provide the facility's janitorial services. JCI has moved for summary judgment, arguing that it cannot be held liable for the actions committed by its subcontractor, Crown. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants JCI's Motion for Summary Judgment, [Filing No. 88].

         I.

         Background

         Humana, Inc. operates a number of health care facilities throughout the country, [Filing No. 89-4 at 16-17], including the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Terre Haute, Indiana (the “Clinic”), [Filing No. 89-5 at 28; Filing No. 89-5 at 43]. Humana contracted with JCI to provide facilities and project management services to many of Humana's facilities, including the Clinic. [Filing No. 89-4 at 22; Filing No. 102-2.] JCI subcontracted with Crown to provide janitorial services for the Clinic, and Crown was responsible for providing the Clinic's floor care. [Filing No. 89-4 at 22-27.] On Saturday, August 2, 2014, Crown's employees stripped and waxed the Clinic's tile floors. [Filing No. 89-2 at 3.]

         Ms. Lamar was employed as a nurse practitioner for Humana, and she worked in the Terre Haute Clinic. [Filing No. 89-5 at 28-30; Filing No. 89-5 at 43.] On the afternoon of Saturday, August 2, 2014, Ms. Lamar went to the Clinic while it was closed to patients in order to complete work on patient charts. [Filing No. 89-5 at 72-73.] Ms. Lamar alleges that while walking down the hallway to her office, she slipped and fell in a puddle of wet floor wax. [Filing No. 89-5 at 79-85.] Ms. Lamar suffered numerous injuries as a result of the fall, including two torn rotator cuffs and a hamstring injury. [Filing No. 102-4 at 1.]

         Ms. Lamar filed a complaint in the Vigo County Superior Court against JCI and Crown, alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of the negligence of those defendants. [Filing No. 1-1 at 4.] On April 25, 2016, Crown successfully removed that action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. [Filing No. 1.] On October 26, 2016, JCI filed a cross-claim against Crown and filed a third-party complaint against Zurich American Insurance Company (“Zurich”). [Filing No. 42.] On December 16, 2016, Zurich filed a counterclaim against JCI. [Filing No. 50.] Presently pending before the Court is JCI's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Ms. Lamar's Complaint, [Filing No. 88], which is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review.[1]

         II.

         Legal Standard

         A motion for summary judgment asks the Court to find that a trial is unnecessary because there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and, instead, the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). As the current version of Rule 56 makes clear, whether a party asserts that a fact is undisputed or genuinely disputed, the party must support the asserted fact by citing to particular parts of the record, including depositions, documents, or affidavits. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). A party can also support a fact by showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute or that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B). Affidavits or declarations must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant is competent to testify on matters stated. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4). Failure to properly support a fact in opposition to a movant's factual assertion can result in the movant's fact being considered undisputed, and potentially in the grant of summary judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court need only consider disputed facts that are material to the decision. A disputed fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Hampton v. Ford Motor Co., 561 F.3d 709, 713 (7th Cir. 2009). In other words, while there may be facts that are in dispute, summary judgment is appropriate if those facts are not outcome determinative. Harper v. Vigilant Ins. Co., 433 F.3d 521, 525 (7th Cir. 2005). Fact disputes that are irrelevant to the legal question will not be considered. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         On summary judgment, a party must show the Court what evidence it has that would convince a trier of fact to accept its version of the events. Johnson v. Cambridge Indus., 325 F.3d 892, 901 (7th Cir. 2003). The moving party is entitled to summary judgment if no reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Nelson v. Miller, 570 F.3d 868, 875 (7th Cir. 2009). The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Darst v. Interstate Brands Corp., 512 F.3d 903, 907 (7th Cir. 2008). It cannot weigh evidence or make credibility determinations on summary judgment because those tasks are left to the fact-finder. O'Leary v. Accretive Health, Inc., 657 F.3d 625, 630 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court need only consider the cited materials, Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3), and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has “repeatedly assured the district courts that they are not required to scour every inch of the record for evidence that is potentially relevant to the summary judgment motion before them, ” Johnson, 325 F.3d at 898. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Ponsetti v. GE Pension Plan, 614 F.3d 684, 691 (7th Cir. 2010).

         III.

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