United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
A. RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Presently before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Co-Defendant Braden Drilling, LLC (“Braden”) on its contractual cross-claim (Doc. 12) against Co-Defendant East Resources, Inc. (incorrectly named as “East Resource Oil Company”) (“East Resources”). (Doc. 26.) The instant action arises out of an accident at a well site owned by East Resources, which resulted in personal injury to Plaintiff Donald Williams (“Williams”), an employee of one of East Resources’ contractors that is not a party to this action. East Resources contracted with Braden, a drilling company, to work on this well site. Williams brought suit against both East Resources and Braden under a theory of negligence for his personal injury. Braden’s cross-claim is based upon its contract with East Resources at the time of the incident which gives rise to these claims. Braden seeks summary judgment against East Resources, alleging that the express terms of the parties’ contract require that East Resources indemnify Braden against the underlying claims and pay Braden’s costs and attorneys’ fees in this suit. There are no genuine issues of material fact. Because the parties’ contract included an unambiguous, enforceable indemnity agreement, under which East Resources agreed with specificity to indemnify Braden in cases such as the present one, Braden’s Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted.
A. Factual Background
This diversity action arises out of an accident on November 19, 2009 at a gas well in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 29-3, ¶¶1-2.) Plaintiff Donald Williams (“Williams”) alleges that he sustained personal injuries while installing a piece of heavy equipment on an oil rig. (Id. at ¶¶2-3.) Williams was employed as a gas well technician by non-party Tesco Corporation (“Tesco”). (Id.) At the time of the alleged accident, Williams was engaged in work within the scope of his employment at Tesco, pursuant to a contract (Doc. 28, Ex. A) between East Resources and Tesco. (Doc. 30, ¶¶4-5.)
East Resources owns the oil, gas, mineral and development rights to the parcel of land, called Brown Well, where this incident occurred. (Compl., Ex. A, Doc. 1, 4.) East Resources hired movant Braden to drill a gas well at Brown Well. (Id.) East Resources leased drilling equipment from non-party Tesco, Williams’ employer, for use by Braden employees at Brown Well. (Id.)
At the time of the incident, Williams was installing equipment leased by Tesco to East Resources on the rig at Brown Well. (Doc. 29-3. at ¶4.) The equipment–the “top drive”–was suspended from a crane. (Id.) The crane holding the top drive was operated by an employee of the drilling company, Braden. (Id. at ¶6.) Williams’ task was to remove a carrying stand in order to put the top drive into service. (Id. at ¶5.) Williams was working closely with a “rig crew” of Braden employees. (Doc. 29-3, 20.) During the installation, the top drive came down onto Williams’ left foot and severed four of his toes. (Id. at ¶7.)
The Braden employees working with Williams at the time of the incident were working pursuant to a contract (Doc. 28, Ex. B) between Braden and East Resources. (Doc. 30, ¶6.) Throughout the contract, East Resources is identified as the Operator, and Braden is identified as the Contractor. (Id. at ¶¶8-9.)
The contract contained reciprocal, but not identical, indemnity provisions which are the bases for Braden’s instant Motion for Summary Judgment against East Resources. (Doc. 28, Ex. B.) Braden asserts that under the contract, East Resources must indemnify it in this present suit. East Resources disputes that the provision should apply, and asserts that this question is not appropriately resolved through summary judgment.
At issue are Sections 14.8 and 14.9 (also called “subparagraphs” 14.8 and 14.9). Section 14.8 obligates Braden to indemnify East Resources in certain situations:
[Braden] shall release [East Resources] of any liability for, and shall protect, defend and indemnify [East Resources] from and against all claims, demands and causes of action of every kind and character, without limit and without regard to the cause or causes thereof or the negligence of any party or parties, arising in connection herewith in favor of [Braden's] employees or [Braden's] subcontractors of any tier (inclusive of any agent or consultant engaged by [Braden]) or their employees, or [Braden’s] invitees, on account of bodily injury, death, or damage to property. [Braden’s] indemnity under this Paragraph shall be without regard to and without any right to contribution from any insurance maintained by [East Resources] pursuant to Paragraph 13. If it is judicially determined that the monetary limits of insurance required hereunder or of the indemnities voluntarily assumed under Subparagraph 14.8 (which [Braden] and [East Resources] agree will be supported either by available liability insurance, under which the Insurer has no right of subrogation against the indemnitees, or voluntarily self-insured, in part or whole) exceed the maximum limits permitted under applicable law, it is agreed that said insurance requirements or indemnities shall automatically be amended to conform to the maximum monetary limits permitted under such law.
(Doc. 28, Ex. B.) Section 14.9 obligates East Resources to indemnify Braden in certain situations:
[East Resources] shall release [Braden] of any liability for, and shall protect, defend and indemnify [Braden] from and against all claims, demands, and causes of action of every kind and character, without limit and without regard to the cause or causes thereof or the negligence of any party or parties, arising in connection herewith in favor of [East Resources's] employees or [East Resources’] contractors of any tier (including any agent, consultant or subcontractor engaged by [East Resources]) or their employees, or [East Resources’] invitees, other than those parties identified in subparagraph 14.8 on account of bodily injury, death or damage to property. [East Resources’] indemnity under this Paragraph shall be without regard to and without any right to contribution from any insurance maintained by [Braden] pursuant to Paragraph 13. If it is judicially determined that the monetary limits of insurance will be supported either by available liability insurance, under which the insurer has no right of subrogation against the ...