The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERBERT HUTTON, District Judge
Presently before the Court are Plaintiff ExxonMobil Oil Corp.'s
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against Defendant Steven
O'Mara (Docket No. 17), Defendant Steven O'Mara's response
thereto (Docket No. 23), Defendants WJL Management Enterprises'
and William J. Lucchesi's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as
to Defendant Steven O'Mara's Cross-claim (Docket Nos. 18, 19 &
20), Defendant Steven O'Mara's response (Docket No. 22), and WJL
Management Enterprises' and William J. Lucchesi's reply thereto
(Docket No. 24).
Plaintiff ExxonMobil Oil Corporation ("ExxonMobil") seeks
contribution or indemnification from Defendants William J.
Lucchesi ("Lucchesi"), WJL Management Enterprises, Inc.
(individually and collectively with Lucchesi as "WJL"), and
Steven O'Mara ("O'Mara") for a settlement it entered into on
November 18, 2002, to resolve a slip and fall case.
The underlying slip and fall action was commenced by Bernard and Doris Nusrein in the Philadelphia County Court of Common
Pleas. Mr. Nusrein alleged that on February 18, 2000 he sustained
injuries after he slipped on a patch of ice on a walkway near the
office of a Mobil service station on City Avenue in Philadelphia.
The Nusreins filed suit against Mobil Oil Corporation ("Mobil")
on November 16, 2000, alleging that Mobil negligently maintained
the premises, causing his fall and subsequent injuries. On
February 14, 2001, the Nusreins amended the complaint to include
ExxonMobil as a defendant after the two oil companies merged. On
November 5, 2001, the Nusreins filed a second amended complaint
and added Lucchesi and WJL as defendants because they leased the
service station. In August 2002, WJL attempted to add O'Mara as a
defendant, alleging that WJL sold its interest in the station to
O'Mara on February 1, 2000, and that O'Mara was the sole operator
and possessor of the service station at the time of Mr. Nusrein's
fall on February 18, 2000. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
denied WJL's motion, refusing to add O'Mara as a defendant in the
slip and fall case.
On November 18, 2002, ExxonMobil settled the Nusrein's action
for $175,000. The Nusreins signed a Joint Tortfeasor Release in
which they released only their claims against Mobil and
ExxonMobil. Mobil and ExxonMobil admitted liability as joint
tortfeasors. The Nusreins did not release their claims against
WJL or O'Mara.
ExxonMobil filed the instant action on March 17, 2003 pleading eight counts against WJL and O'Mara. In Counts I and II,
ExxonMobil seeks contractual indemnification, and indemnification
or contribution based on negligence against WJL for their alleged
failure to properly maintain and repair the service station. In
Counts III through VII, ExxonMobil alleges WJL and Lucchesi
breached various provisions of the Franchise Agreement and the
Key Individual Guarantee, respectively, for failing to defend and
indemnify Mobil (Counts III and IV), for failing to properly
maintain and repair the service station (Counts V and VI), and
for failing to obtain Mobil's approval before transferring the
Mobil station to O'Mara on February 1, 2000 (Count VII). In Count
VIII, ExxonMobil seeks indemnification or contribution from
O'Mara, alleging that O'Mara was in sole possession and control
of the service station when Mr. Nusrein fell on February 18,
WJL and O'Mara have filed cross-claims against each other
seeking indemnification or contribution to the extent each is
liable to ExxonMobil. WJL has also filed a counter-claim against
ExxonMobil, alleging that ExxonMobil breached the franchise
agreement by failing to provide WJL with special management and
marketing training during the course of their relationship.
In the instant motions, ExxonMobil seeks summary judgment on
only Count VIII of the Complaint, its claim against O'Mara for indemnification or contribution based on negligence. Likewise,
WJL seeks summary judgment on O'Mara's cross-claim for
indemnification or contribution against WJL. WJL also supports
summary judgment in favor of ExxonMobil on Count VIII. O'Mara
opposes both motions.
Summary judgment is appropriate "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 a
judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The party
moving for summary judgment has the initial burden of showing the
basis for its motion. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant adequately supports its motion
pursuant to Rule 56(c), the burden shifts to the nonmoving party
to go beyond the mere pleadings and present evidence through
affidavits, depositions, or admissions on file showing a genuine
issue of material fact for trial. See id. at 324. The
substantive law determines which facts are material. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505,
91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). If the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party, then there is a
genuine issue of fact. See id.
When deciding a motion for summary judgment, all reasonable
inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. See Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc.,
974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 912
(1993). Moreover, a court may not consider the credibility or
weight of the evidence in deciding a motion for summary judgment,
even if the quantity of the moving party's evidence far outweighs
that of its opponent. See id. Nonetheless, a party opposing
summary judgment must do more than just rest upon mere
allegations, general denials, or vague statements. See Trap
Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir.