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Webb v. City of Carmel

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 30, 2018

Pamela Webb, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
City of Carmel, Carmel Clay Parks Building Corporation, and Carmel/Clay Board of Parks & Recreation, Appellees-Defendants.

          Appeal from the Hamilton Superior Court The Honorable William J. Hughes, Judge The Honorable William P. Greenaway, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 29D03-1605-CT-4530

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Stacy L. Kelley Glaser & Ebbs Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES Aimée Rivera Cole Travelers Staff Counsel Indiana Indianapolis, Indiana

          KIRSCH, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Pamela Webb ("Webb") appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of City of Carmel ("Carmel"), Carmel Clay Parks Building Corporation ("the Corporation"), and Carmel/Clay Board of Parks & Recreation ("the Park Board") (collectively, "the Appellees") in her action against the Appellees for negligence. She raises the following restated issues for our review on appeal:

I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting the Appellees' motion to strike portions of Webb's response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment; and
II. Whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Appellees.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] This case arises from an incident that occurred on June 20, 2014 at the Monon Community Center located at 1235 Central Park Drive East, Carmel, Indiana ("the Property"). Webb alleges that as she was walking down the gymnasium bleacher steps, the bottom step of the bleachers slid causing her to fall to the floor. Webb contends that the Property is "owned, operated, managed and/or maintained by" the Appellees. Appellant's App. Vol. II at 169. Webb alleges that the Appellees were negligent for failure to keep the entry/exit of the bleacher steps in a reasonably safe condition, failing to warn guests of the unsafe condition of the steps, failure to exercise reasonable care in the design, operation and maintenance of the steps, failure to provide adequate lighting, and/or failure to design a safe entryway for guests. Id. at 169-70.

         [¶4] The Corporation is the sole owner of the Property. Id. at 81-108. The Corporation and Clay Township entered into a Sublease and Management Agreement with the Park Board granting the Park Board the exclusive right, power, and authority to access, occupy, improve, and operate the approximately 161 acres comprising Central Park in Carmel, Indiana, which includes the Property. Id. at 55-61, 141. Williams and Associates, Ltd. designed the Property. Id. at 141. Neither the Corporation nor Carmel developed, constructed, operated, designed, or maintained the Property. Appellees' App. Vol. II at 92. Carmel never owned the Property. Id. at 181. Carmel has no knowledge of the inspection practices of the Property. Id. at 183. The Park Board operates as a political subdivision on its own behalf and, pursuant to Article IV, Section 4.2(i) of the Interlocal Agreement, [1] has the right to sue and be sued by or in its legal name as the "Carmel/Clay Board of Parks and Recreation" with service of process being had upon the President of the Board. Id. at 91, 96-126.

         [¶5] On or about July 7, 2014, Webb served the Mayor of Carmel with a Tort Claim Notice. Carmel acknowledged receipt of Webb's Tort Claim Notice and referred the notice to their liability insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance ("Travelers"), and Travelers subsequently requested further documentation of Webb's medical records and billing statements. On May 25, 2016, almost two years after filing the Tort Claim Notice, Webb filed a Complaint for Damages against Carmel and the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association.[2] On June 16, 2016, counsel for Carmel advised counsel for Webb that Carmel did not have any ownership interest in the Property. Id. at 187. On June 20, 2016, counsel for the City provided counsel for Webb with documents, confirming that the owner of the Property was the Corporation and the manager of the Property was the Park Board. Id. On September 13, 2016, Carmel served its responses to Webb's discovery, which included the same documents provided on June 20, 2016 by Carmel's counsel showing the Corporation as the owner and the Park Board as the operator of the Property and the lack of any role by the City in the development, construction, ownership, operation, design or maintenance thereof. Id. at 179-85, 188-94. Carmel filed a motion for summary judgment on November 4, 2016 on the basis that it did not own, manage, or control the Property. Id. at 6-14.

         [¶6] On December 28, 2016, Webb filed a motion seeking leave to file an amended complaint naming the Corporation and the Park Board as defendants ("the Amended Complaint"). Along with the motion seeking leave to file the Amended Complaint, Webb filed a proposed summons for both the Corporation and for the Park Board. The trial court made a notation on the summonses that service was to be done by the attorney. Id. at 25-28. Webb's motion was granted on December 29, 2016. The Amended Complaint was filed December 30, 2016. The Park Board was not served with the summons or the Amended Complaint, nor was it served with a Notice of Tort Claim. Id. at 92. The Corporation was not served with the summons or the Amended Complaint. Id. at 195. On January 10, 2017, the trial court ordered that Carmel's motion for summary judgment was rendered moot by the filing of the Amended Complaint. On June 6, 2017, the Appellees filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the complaint against the Corporation and the Park Board was not filed within the statute of limitation and on the basis that Carmel was not the owner or operator of the Property, and Webb later filed her response in opposition to the summary judgment motion and designated evidence. Id. at 36-53, 196-212. The Appellees filed their reply to Webb's response as well as a motion to strike various purported representations of fact contained in Webb's response in opposition to the Appellees' motion for summary judgment. A hearing was held on the Appellees' motion for summary judgment and the motion to strike, and on September 25, 2017, the trial court entered an order granting the Appellees' motion to strike and motion for summary judgment. Appellant's App. Vol. II at 12-18. Webb now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         I. Motion to Strike

         [¶7] Webb initially contends that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the Appellees' motion to strike several statements contained in her response in opposition to the Appellees' motion for summary judgment.[3] A trial court has broad discretion in ruling on the admissibility of evidence. Morris v. Crain, 71 N.E.3d 871, 877 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). Such discretion extends to rulings on motions to strike affidavits on the grounds that they fail to comply with the summary judgment rules. Id. "We will determine that a trial court has abused ...


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