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Armstrong v. Antique Automobile Club of America

September 22, 2009

EILEEN A. ARMSTRONG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF AMERICA, HERSHEY REGION OF THE ANTIQUE AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF AMERICA, INC. AND HERSHEY ENTERTAINMENT & RESORTS COMPANY DEFENDANTS AND THIRD PARTY PLAINTIFFS
v.
HYLAN GRAY, THIRD PARTY DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Smyser

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

I. Background and Procedural History.

The plaintiff, Eileen A. Armstrong, commenced this action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against Hylan Gray and the Antique Automobile Club of America, Inc. (AACA). The plaintiff alleged that while attending an AACA meet in Hershey, Pennsylvania in October 2006 she was struck by a vehicle driven by Gray and injured.

The case was subsequently transferred to this court. On September 22, 2008, with leave of court, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint names as defendants AACA, the Hershey Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America (HRAACA) and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company. The defendants filed third party complaints against Hylan Gray seeking indemnity or contribution. Also, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company filed crossclaims seeking indemnity or contribution against defendants AACA and HRAACA and defendants AACA and HRAACA filed crossclaims seeking indemnity or contribution against Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company.

The parties have consented to proceed before a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The case is scheduled for a pretrial conference on October 20, 2009 and a jury trial beginning on November 2, 2009.

Currently pending is a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant AACA and a second and separate motion for summary judgment filed by both defendant AACA and defendant HRAACA. Those motions are ripe for decision by the court and will be addressed in this Memorandum and Order.

II. Summary Judgment Standard.

Summary judgment is appropriate if the "pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). With respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof, the moving party may discharge that burden by "'showing'--- that is, pointing out to the district court --- that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325. Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleading; rather, the nonmoving party must "set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).

A material factual dispute is a dispute as to a factual issue the determination of which will affect the outcome of the trial under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id.

Summary judgment is not appropriate when there is a genuine dispute about a material fact. Id. at 248. A dispute as to an issue of fact is "'genuine' only if a reasonable jury, considering the evidence presented, could find for the non-moving party." Childers v. Joseph, 842 F.2d 689, 693-94 (3d Cir. 1988). "Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no 'genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). "If the evidence is merely colorable . . . or is not significantly probative . . . summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, supra, 477 U.S. at 249-50. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must consider all evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. White v. Westinghouse Electric Co., 862 F.2d 56, 59 (3d Cir. 1988).

At the summary judgment stage, the judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but is to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson, supra, 477 U.S. at 249. The proper inquiry of the court in connection with a motion for summary judgment "is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for a trial - whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Id. at 250.

"[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, supra, 477 U.S. at 322. "Under such circumstances, 'there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.'" Anderson v. CONRAIL, 297 F.3d 242, 247 (3d Cir. 2002)(quoting Celotex, supra, 477 U.S. at 323).

III. Discussion

We will first address the motion for summary judgment filed by both defendant AACA and defendant HRAACA. Defendants AACA and HRAACA contend that they are entitled to summary judgment on ...


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