United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge
entered into a contract with Plant Site for Plant Site to
provide it with transportation logistics solutions. With
Plant Site's assistance, MYR entered into a contract with
AM Trans for freight-broker services. Pursuant to that
contract, MYR selected AM Trans as the broker for a project
to move a large crane and AM Trans hired Full Throttle as the
carrier to move the crane. During transit, the crane was
involved in an accident and totaled. The question before the
Court is whether Plant Site is entitled to summary judgment
on MYR's claim that Plant Site breached the contract with
MYR by not having verified Full Throttle's insurance.
Because the Plant Site/MYR contract is ambiguous and there
are triable issues of fact, the Court DENIES
Plant Site's motion. Dkt. .
Facts and Background
Rule 56(a), the Court views and recites the evidence in the
light most favorable to MYR Equipment, LLC and draws all
reasonable inferences in MYR's favor. Zerante v.
DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009).
provides heavy equipment to the utility-construction
industry. Dkt. 1 ¶ 3. In May 2013, MYR and Plant Site
Logistics, Inc. entered into a contract (the
“Agreement”) in which Plant Site agreed to help
MYR find qualified brokers and motor carriers to ship
MYR's equipment to its customers. Dkt. 74-1. To ensure
that MYR only worked with qualified businesses, Plant Site
agreed to “verify carrier and broker insurance
certification.” Id. at 2.
entering into the Agreement, the owner of AM Trans, Inc. (a
freight broker) and Full Throttle Transport, LLC (a motor
carrier) asked Plant Site about doing business with MYR. Dkt.
74-2. Plant Site told MYR about the request, and MYR
responded that it wanted to use AM Trans as a broker but did
not want to use Full Throttle as a motor carrier because it
had poor safety ratings. Id. at 1-2. After Plant
Site verified that AM Trans had the required insurance, dkt.
74-3; dkt. 75 at 4, MYR, AM Trans, and Plant Site signed a
Transportation Contract for Freight Broker (the
“Transportation Contract”), which authorized AM
Trans to act as a broker for MYR. Dkt. 74-5.
December 10, 2015, MYR used Plant Site's software to
solicit bids from motor carriers and brokers willing to
transport a Peterbilt Boom Crane Truck (the “Crane
Truck”) from Oregon to Minnesota. Dkt. 74-6. This was a
“drive away” shipment, meaning the motor carrier
would need to hire someone to personally drive the Crane
Truck to its destination, rather than load it on another
truck for shipment. Id. MYR selected AM Trans to
broker the shipment. Dkt. 75 at 4. AM Trans hired Full
Throttle to deliver the Crane Truck. Dkt. 1 ¶¶
25-26; dkt. 1-3. Plant Site not verify Full Throttle's
insurance. Dkt. 83 at 5.
days later, the Full Throttle employee who was transporting
the Crane Truck was involved in an accident, and the Crane
Truck was destroyed. Dkt. 1 ¶ 13; dkt. 74-7 at 1; dkt.
74-8. When Full Throttle filed a claim with its
cargo-insurance provider, the insurance provider concluded
that the accident fell outside of the cargo policy because
the Crane Truck was not being transported as cargo but was
“being driven under its own power during
transportation.” Dkt. 74-8. The insurance company
therefore denied the claim. Id.
reimbursement for the wrecked Crane Truck, MYR filed a
complaint on February 13, 2017, against Plant Site, AM Trans,
and Full Throttle. Dkt. 1. AM Trans and Full Throttle failed
to appear or otherwise defend the case, dkt. 31; dkt. 33, so
the Clerk entered default against them, dkt. 35; dkt. 36. In
its claim against Plant Site, MYR alleges that Plant Site
breached the Agreement by failing verify Full Throttle's
insurance. Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 31-36. Plant Site seeks
summary judgment, arguing that it fulfilled its contractual
duties to MYR by verifying AM Trans's insurance and that
it had no duty to verify Full Throttle's insurance. Dkt.
judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party must inform the court
“of the basis for its motion” and specify
evidence demonstrating “the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party meets this
burden, the nonmoving party must “go beyond the
pleadings” and identify “specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
at 324. In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court
views the evidence “in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor.” Zerante, 555 F.3d at
584 (citation omitted).
diversity case, courts apply federal procedural law and state
substantive law. Allen v. Cedar Real Estate Grp.,
LLP, 236 F.3d 374, 380 (7th Cir. 2001) (citing Erie
R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)). Rules for
interpreting contracts are substantive, so the Court must
apply state law in resolving the parties' dispute.
Id. Neither party has raised a choice-of-law issue,
so Indiana's substantive law applies. McCoy v.
Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., 760 F.3d 674, 684 (7th Cir.
2014). This Court is required to faithfully follow Indiana
law by applying existing precedent and where it is not clear,
trying to “predict how the [Indiana] supreme court
would act given the chance.” In re Zimmer, NexGen
Knee Implant Prod. Liability Litig., 884 F.3d 746, 750
(7th Cir. 2018).
Site argues that it is entitled to summary judgment because
it was not required by the terms of the Agreement to verify
the insurance of motor carriers hired by brokers and
therefore not required to verify Full Throttle's
insurance. MYR argues that under the Agreement, Plant Site
was obligated to verify all motor ...