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Ruben Perez, Michael Moore, and Brigette Moore v. Vezer Industrial Professionals

September 24, 2012

RUBEN PEREZ, MICHAEL MOORE, AND BRIGETTE MOORE PLAINTIFFS,
v.
VEZER INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONALS, INS., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION AND DOES 1-50 INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.
VEZER INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONALS, INC., THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PINPOINT HOLDINGS, INC., A CORPORATION; B2 GOLD, A CANADIAN CORPORATION THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Through the present lawsuit, Plaintiffs Ruben Perez and Michael Moore (hereinafter "Plaintiffs" unless otherwise specified*fn1 ) seek damages for personal injuries they sustained in a motor vehicle accident that occurred while they were working at a Nicaragua mining site whose construction was being managed by Defendant Vezer Industrial Professionals, Inc. ("Vezer"). The Court's jurisdiction in this matter is premised on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

Following the commencement of Plaintiffs' action against Vezer, Vezer in turn filed a third-party action which sought, inter alia, express and equitable indemnity against PinPoint Holdings, Inc. ("PinPoint"), the employment agency under whose auspices Plaintiffs were hired. PinPoint now seeks summary judgment, or alternatively summary adjudication of issues, on grounds that Vezer's indemnity claims are barred. For the reasons set forth below, PinPoint's motion will be denied in its entirety.*fn2

BACKGROUND

In September of 2008, Plaintiffs, who are both millwrights for heavy equipment, were contacted by PinPoint about doing work for Vezer at a remote mining site in the mountains near La Libertad, Nicaragua.

Vezer had been hired by the mine's owner, Third-Party Defendant Central Sun Mining ("Central Sun"), to install new equipment. PinPoint describes itself as a staffing and payroll service company that assists customers by supplying skilled labor personnel for projects, and by handling the payroll for such personnel. PinPoint concedes that in this capacity it engaged and employed Plaintiffs to provide services to Vezer at the Nicaraguan mining site. It is also undisputed that PinPoint agreed to and did secure Worker's Compensation insurance coverage for both Plaintiffs at the time they were hired.

On October 5, 2008, while in Nicaragua, Plaintiffs were involved in an automobile accident shortly after midnight. Both suffered physical injuries and, on July 27, 2009, sued Vezer in state court for its alleged negligence in providing unsafe transportation. The state court action was subsequently removed to this court on diversity grounds. Then, on February 5, 2010, Vezer filed a Third Party Complaint against PinPoint and others, as later amended on June 11, 2010. Vezer's claim against PinPoint is predicated on a March 12, 2008 Purchase Order for Labor and Services between Vezer and Pinpoint pursuant to which Plaintiffs were hired. Vezer claims the provisions of that Purchase Order entitle it to express indemnity. The indemnification clause contained in the Purchase Order provides as follows:

11. Indemnification. To the fullest extent permitted by law, [PinPoint] shall indemnify and hold harmless [Vezer] and its agents and employees from and against claims, damages, losses and expenses, including, but not limited to, attorneys' fees arising out of or resulting from performance of the Work, provided that any such claim, damage, loss or expense is attributable to bodily injury, sickness, disease or death, or to injury to or destruction of property including the loss of use resulting therefrom, but only to the extent caused in whole or in part by the acts or omissions of [PinPoint], [PinPoint's] subcontractors, anyone directly or indirectly employed by them, or anyone for whose acts they may be liable, regardless of whether or not such claim, damage, loss, or expense is attributable in whole or in part to any act, omission, or negligence of a party indemnified hereunder. Such obligation shall not be construed to negate, abridge, or otherwise reduce other rights or obligations of indemnity which would otherwise exist as to a party, person, or entity described herein with respect to indemnity."

Purchase Order, ¶ 11, attached as Ex. A to the Declaration Of Mark Hall filed in Support of PinPoint's Motion.

Pursuant to the Purchase Order, "[t]he term 'Work' means all goods, items, materials, equipment, labor and/or other services that are the subject of this purchase order." Id. at ¶ 1.

PinPoint's Motion now before the Court is premised on the fact that the Purchase Order was signed only by Mark Hall of PinPoint and, accordingly, is not enforceable absent execution by both parties. Because PinPoint thereby claims the indemnity provision to be inapplicable, it argues that Vezer's third-party claim based on the indemnification clause fails. In the absence of an enforceable indemnity provision, PinPoint goes on to argue that PinPoint is insulated from Vezer's claim because of the exclusivity rule applicable to worker's compensation.

STANDARD

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary judgment when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with 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); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). One of the principal purposes of Rule 56 is to dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 325.

Rule 56 also allows a court to grant summary adjudication on part of a claim or defense. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a) ("A party may move for summary judgment, identifying . . . the part of each claim or defense . . . on which summary judgment is sought."); see also Allstate Ins. Co. v. Madan, 889 F. Supp. 374, 378-79 (C.D. Cal. 1995); ...


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