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Travelers Indemnity Co. v. ADT Security Systems

September 30, 2009

TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY A/S/O JEROME GREENSPAN AND MARLENE GREENSPAN, PLAINTIFF
v.
ADT SECURITY SYSTEMS, INC., ET AL. DEFENDANT
CONSOLIDATED JEROME GREENSPAN AND MARLENE GREENSPAN, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ADT SECURITY SYSTEMS, INC, ET AL. DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Linda K. Caracappa United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Travelers Indemnity Company ("Travelers"), as subrogee of its insured, Jerome Greenspan and Marlene Greenspan, has brought this action against defendant ADT Security Systems ("ADT"), alleging negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs Jerome Greenspan and Marlene Greenspan ("Greenspans"), have brought this action against defendant ADT, alleging negligence, and breach of contract. This action stems from a fire that occurred in the Greenspans' home. Travelers paid the Greenspans in excess of $200,000 as a result of the fire, and now, as subrogee of the Greenspans, seeks damages from defendant ADT, which provided burglar and fire alarm system services for the Greenspans. The Greenspans seek damages from defendant ADT for unpaid insurance claims.

Presently before the court is defendant ADT's motion for summary judgment, which the court will grant in part and deny in part. For the reasons that follow, the court will deny defendant's motion for summary judgment on Traveler's negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, and breach of contract claims; as well as on Greenspans' negligence claim. In the event that defendant ADT is found liable for negligence, gross negligence, breach of warranty, or breach of contract, however, ADT's liability will be limited to $500 in accordance with the limitation of liability clause in the alarm service contract ("Agreement"). Accordingly, to this limited extent, the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant ADT is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.

This subrogation claim arises out of a fire that occurred on September 5, 2004 in the second floor bedroom of the Greenspans' home in Havertown, Pennsylvania. At all relevant times, Travelers was the Greenspans' property insurer.

On September 21, 1990, Greenspans entered into a contract ("Agreement") with Rollins Protective Services ("Rollins"), for installation and monitoring of a burglar and fire alarm system at Greenspans' home on 1430 Brierwood Drive, Havertown, Pennsylvania. The system included two smoke detectors, one on the second floor and one on the first floor of the Greenspans' home.

At sometime after the Agreement was signed between Rollins and the Greenspans, ADT acquired Rollins. ADT then assumed the Agreement.

Eleven years into the agreement, on December 18, 2001, an ADT technician removed the second floor smoke detector from the Greenspans' home because it was broken. At the time of the fire, nearly three years later, the smoke detector still had not been replaced by ADT. Plaintiffs claim several inquires were made to ADT about the missing smoke detector, but it was never replaced. ADT claims that the smoke detector could not be repaired because the parts of the original Rollins system were no longer available fourteen years after installation of the initial system.

On September 5, 2004, a fire broke out on the second floor of the Greenspans' home. Plaintiffs claim that the fire spread unnecessarily because no detector was present on the second floor where the fire originated. As a result of the fire, Greenspans made a claim on Travelers in accordance with its policy terms. Travelers paid the Greenspans over $200,000.00.

Travelers, as Greenspans' subrogee, initiated this claim. The Greenspans also filed suit against ADT for unpaid damages. The two matters were consolidated. Traveler's three-count complaint alleges: negligence, gross negligence, carelessness, willful, intentional and/or wanton misconduct (Count I), breach of warranty (Count II), and breach of contract (Count III) against ADT. The Greenspans' two-count complaint alleges negligence (Count I), and breach of contract (Count II).

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) states that summary judgment is proper "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 judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 463-464 (3d Cir. 1989). A factual dispute is "material" only if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). For there to be a "genuine" issue, a reasonable fact finder must be able to render a decision in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

On summary judgment, it is not the court's role to weigh the disputed evidence and decide which is more probative, or to make credibility determinations. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). Rather, the court must consider the evidence, and all reasonable inferences which may be drawn from it, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962); Tigg Corp. v. Dow Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987). If a conflict arises between the evidence presented by both sides, the court must accept as true the allegations of the non-moving party. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp, 477 U.S. at 322.

Once the moving party has carried this initial burden, Rule 56(e) shifts the burden to the nonmoving party as follows:

When a motion for summary judgment is made and supported as provided in this rule, an adverse party may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of the adverse party's pleading, but the adverse party's response, by affidavits or as otherwise provided in this rule must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. If the adverse party does not so respond, summary judgment, if appropriate, shall be entered against the adverse party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e).

However, to raise a genuine issue of material fact, the summary judgment opponent need not match, item for item, each piece of evidence proffered by the moving party, but simply must exceed the 'mere scintilla' standard. Petruzzi's ICA Supermarkets, Inc. v. Darling-Delaware Co., Inc., 998 F.2d 1224, 1230 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 994 (1993). Summary judgment may be granted only if, after viewing all evidence in the light ...


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