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Crawford v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

July 15, 2019

ANDREA CRAWFORD, Administratrix of the Estate of Monty Crawford, Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., et al. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING JOINT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on the Joint Motion for Summary Judgment (“Joint Motion”) filed by Defendant Corizon Health, Inc., and Plaintiff Andrea Crawford. The Joint Motion seeks dismissal of the crossclaim against Corizon, asserted by Defendants Allegheny County, Orlando Harper, and Monica Long (collectively, “County Defendants”). That crossclaim seeks indemnity of the County Defendants by Corizon, pursuant to a provision in the Health Services Agreement (“HSA”) between Allegheny County and Corizon. Having reviewed the parties' briefs and the exhibits attached thereto, the Court finds and rules as follows.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Andrea Crawford filed this lawsuit as administratrix of the estate of her son, Monty Crawford, who died of an alleged suicide while in custody at the Allegheny County jail. Plaintiff claimed that her son's death was a result of Defendants' failure to provide adequate medical care. Pursuant to court-ordered mediation, Plaintiff settled her claims against Corizon and multiple individual Corizon defendants named in this case, leaving only her claim against the County Defendants, and the County Defendants' crossclaim for indemnity against Corizon.

         In her Amended Complaint, the Plaintiff alleged that the County and Defendants Harper and Long-at all relevant times, respectively, the warden and deputy warden at the Allegheny County Jail-“maintained a custom and policy of not providing required medications to inmates and delegated functions relating to medical care to the Corizon Defendants while knowing or being recklessly indifferent to the fact that the Corizon Defendants were ignoring the serious medical needs of inmates.” Am. Compl. ¶ 80. She alleged that the County Defendants “failed to take or enact appropriate corrective measures to address those problems, ” resulting in “a shockingly high number of deaths, ” including that of her son. Id. ¶¶ 81, 83. In Count I of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserted a claim against the County Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for “Violation of Eighth Amendment Constitutional Rights And Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs.” In their Answer to the Amended Complaint, the County Defendants asserted a crossclaim for indemnification against Corizon, premised on the “Hold Harmless” clause found in the HSA executed by Corizon Health, Inc and Allegheny County. County Defs.' Ans. to Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 79, ¶ 144. The relevant language in the HSA provides:

Corizon shall indemnify and hold harmless the County and its agents, elected or appointed officials, servants, assigns and/or employees from any and all claims, actions, lawsuits, damages, judgments and/or liabilities of any kind whatsoever arising out of the operation and maintenance of the aforesaid program of health care services as provided under this Agreement by Corizon, its employees, agents and/or independent contractor; it being the express understanding of the Parties hereto that Corizon shall provide the actual health care services, and have complete responsibility for such health care services provided by its employees and/or agents and any lawsuit arising solely or partially out of such delivery of healthcare. . . . Corizon's obligation to indemnify the County as set forth herein shall not apply to any claims, actions, lawsuits, damages, judgments and/or liabilities of any kind whatsoever to the extent that said claims, actions, lawsuits, damages, judgments and/or liabilities result from the negligent acts and/or omissions of the County and/or any of its agents, elected officials, servants, assigns and/or employees.

¶10.2, Appendix to Joint Motion, Ex. 1. It is this crossclaim for indemnification that Corizon and Plaintiff now jointly ask the Court to dismiss, asserting that their confidential settlement agreement released any claims that could have formed the basis of an indemnity claim under the HSA, and deliberately “carved out” Plaintiff's claims based on the negligent acts and/or omissions of the County Defendants, leaving only claims that would not be indemnified by the HSA.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine . . . if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Weldon v. Kraft, Inc., 896 F.2d 793, 797 (3d Cir. 1990), citing Sorba v. Pennsylvania Drilling Co., 821 F.2d 200, 204 (3d Cir.1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1019 (1988).

         B. The Health Services Agreement Does Not Provide Indemnification for County Defendants' Negligence

         In their Joint Motion, Plaintiff and Corizon argue that the indemnity provision cited above clearly excludes the negligent acts and/or omissions of Allegheny County, and “does not extend to claims brought directly against the County.” Joint Motion at 5. Count I of the Amended Complaint, they claim, constitutes a “separate and distinct” claim related to the County's management of the Allegheny County Jail, and is thus not covered by the indemnity provision.[1]

         The County Defendants counter that the indemnification promised under the HSA was plenary, emphasizing Corizon's promise to provide indemnity for liability “of any kind whatsoever arising out of the operation and maintenance of . . . the health care services as provided under this Agreement, ” including “lawsuits arising solely or partially out of such delivery of healthcare.” HSA, ¶ 10.2. The County Defendants assert, quoting the indemnity provision, that Corizon agreed that “it had complete responsibility for such healthcare services.” Id. The County Defendants acknowledge that the indemnity provision excludes liability for the County's negligent ...


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