The opinion of the court was delivered by: KIM GIBSON, District Judge Page 2
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before the Court on Plaintiff's, Pennsylvania Turnpike
Commission ("Commission"), Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, (Document No. 148). Plaintiff seeks summary judgment
with regard to Defendants', Nationwide Trucking Services, Inc.
("Nationwide") and Stick Chavez Quiocson ("Quiocson"), claims, and
Plaintiff further seeks summary judgment with regard to Plaintiff's,
Tryg-Baltica Forsikring ("Tryg-Baltica"), claims.*fn1 Specifically, the
Commission alleges that summary judgment should be granted for the
following two reasons: the Commission is a government agency and is
entitled to sovereign immunity; and Nationwide, Quiocson, and
Tryg-Baltica failed to bring their claims against the Commission within
the statute of limitations. In consideration of the Commission's Motion
for Summary Judgment, Nationwide and Quiocson's Brief in Opposition to
the Commission's Motion for Summary Judgment, and Tryg-Baltica's Brief in
Opposition to the Commission's Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court
denies the Commission's Motion for Summary Judgment for the following
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On or about December 15, 1998, Quiocson was operating a tractor-trailer
on behalf of Nationwide on the Pennsylvania Turnpike en route from
Baltimore, Maryland, to New Kensington, Pennsylvania, (Document Nos. 149,
155, 156).*fn2 Quiocson was hauling a water
extraction press, which is used in commercial laundry operations
("cargo")*fn3, to Central Finishing Systems in New Kensington,
Pennsylvania. (Document No. 156). Tryg-Baltica was the insurer of Central
Finishing Systems, the owner and consignee of the cargo. Id.
Quiocson operated the tractor-trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike
which has a statutory maximum height of 13 feet 6 inches for vehicles
traveling on that roadway. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4922. (Document No. 149).
He testified that he did not measure the height of the cargo when he
picked up the trailer at the Nationwide terminal (Document No. 149).*fn4
The Commission alleges that Quiocson had a duty to measure the height of
his load when he picked up the trailer at the Nationwide terminal.
(Document No. 149). Nevertheless, Quiocson managed to enter onto the
Pennsylvania Turnpike at the Breezewood Interchange without detection by
the height measuring device, known as a photogating tower, (Document No,
155). Quiocson stated in his deposition taken on August 13, 2002 that the
Pennsylvania Turnpike has sensors which would prevent a tractor-trailer
from entering onto the Turnpike if the load violated the statutory height
requirement. (Document No. 156). Yet, on or about December 15, 1998 when
he entered the turnpike, no such alarm was triggered. Id.
As Quiocson traveled westbound on the Turnpike, the cargo on his
tractor-trailer struck an overhead bridge near milepost 110.12, by the
Somerset Interchange. (Document Nos. 149, 155). All parties to this civil
action agree that the "subject bridge herein was higher than 13 feet
6 inches." (Document No. 155). Subsequently, Tryg-Baltica hired a
marine surveyor to determine the extent of damages to the cargo.
(Document No. 156).
All parties agree that damages were incurred to the bridge owned by the
Commission as a result of the collision. (Document No. 155). The amount
of the damage to the bridge has been stipulated to as well. Id.
However, the legal cause has been in dispute since the Commission
initiated this civil action. Id.
Essentially, the Commission alleges that it was Nationwide and
Quiocson's negligence in failing to measure the tractor-trailer and in
violating Pennsylvania's statutory height requirement that was the legal
cause of the collision. (Document No. 149). Conversely, Nationwide and
Quiocson argue that the non-functioning photogating tower owned by the
Commission is the legal cause of the collision. (Document No. 155).
Plaintiff, Tryg-Baltica, in its consolidated cause of action also alleges
that the failure of the photogating tower to detect the over-sized load
is one of the legal causes of the accident. (Document No. 156).
Subsequent to the countersuit of Nationwide, Quiocson, and Tryg-Baltica
against the Commission, the Commission filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Document No. 148).
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) provides that summary judgment may be granted if,
drawing all inferences in favor of the non-moving party, "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."
The mere existence of some factual dispute between the parties will not
otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. A dispute
over those facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing substantive law, i.e., the material facts, however, will
preclude, the entry of summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Similarly, summary
judgment is improper so long as the dispute over the material facts is
genuine. Id. In determining whether the dispute is genuine, the
court's function is not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth
of the matter, but only to determine whether the evidence of record is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party. Id. at 248-49. In summary, the inquiry under a Rule 56 motion is
whether the evidence of record presents a genuine dispute over material
facts so as to require submission of the matter to a jury for resolution of
that factual dispute, or whether the evidence is so one-sided that the
movant must prevail as a matter of law.
To demonstrate entitlement to summary judgment, the moving party is not
required to refute the essential elements of the cause of action. The
moving party needs only to point out the absence or insufficiency of the
evidence offered in support of those essential elements. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986);
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Once that burden has been met, the non-moving
party must identify affirmative evidence of record that supports each
essential element of his cause of action.
A non-moving party may not successfully oppose a summary judgment
motion by resting upon mere allegations or denials contained in the
pleadings, or by simply reiterating those allegation or denials in an
affidavit. Lujan v. National Wildlife Fed'n, 497
U.S.871, 888(1990). Rather, the non-moving party must offer specific
evidence found in the record that contradicts the evidence presented by
the movant and indicates that there remain relevant factual disputes
that must be resolved at trial. See id. If ...