United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Kimberly A. Jolson Magistrate Judge.
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Third-Party Defendant Select
Sires, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 91).
This Court heard oral argument on July 23, 2019. For the
reasons below, Select Sires' Motion is
10, 2016, Plaintiff Robert Binger was a pedestrian on U.S.
Route 42 when Defendant Randall E. Miller, driving a tractor
trailer, hit him. (ECF No. 19 at ¶8). At the time,
Miller was employed by Alpont (here, Defendant/Third-Party
Plaintiffs), and Binger was employed by Select Sires (here,
Third-Party Defendant). (ECF No. 19 at ¶3). Binger sued
Alpont, alleging negligence. In response, Alpont sued Select
Sires (ECF No. 20), alleging indemnity/contribution and
their campus in Union County, Ohio, Select Sires has
facilities on either side of U.S. Route 42. Jeremiah
Dingledine, colleague of Plaintiff and employee of Select
Sires, left his gloves in the facility across the road from
the facility in which he was working that day.Because Dingledine
was not insured on the company trucks, he asked Binger if
Binger would drive him across the road for his gloves. (ECF
No. 57 at 22:10-15) (hereafter “Dingledine
deposition”). Dingledine got permission from their
supervisor, Joel Boysel, and the two men set off. (Dingledine
deposition at 21:7-12). Binger drove Dingledine across the
road, from the east side of Rt. 42 to the west side. There,
Dingledine collected his gloves, and Binger drove them back
to the facility on the east side of Rt. 42, where they had
started. (Dingledine deposition at 21-25).
specifics of the subsequent events are disputed, but not
materially. At some point on the return trip, from the west
side to the east side, the hatch in the pickup fell down and
the cargo in the back fell onto Rt. 42. (Dingledine
deposition at 24-30). Binger stopped driving and the two men
saw that the hatch was down and that the cargo - rollers for
trash cans used by Select Sires - had fallen out. (Dingledine
deposition at 34:11-23). The 55-gallon drums are used by
Select Sires employees to distribute lime. (ECF No. 98, Ex. 1
at 257:8; ECF No. 97, Ex. 1 at 33:4-5; ECF No. 95, Ex. 1 at
64:5). As Dingledine observed in the rearview mirror, Binger
got out of the truck and ran back toward Rt. 42 (Dingledine
deposition at 34:11-23) where he was hit by Defendant Miller,
driving a tractor-trailer in the north-bound lane of Rt. 42.
Binger sustained “serious, permanent injuries including
but not limited to a sever traumatic brain injury, facial
disfigurement and scaring, functional loss of use of both
arms and additional injuries [described in ¶16 of the
Amended Complaint].” (ECF No. 19 at ¶9). Binger
subsequently filed this lawsuit against Alpont, alleging
impleaded Select Sires as Third-Party Defendant. (ECF No.
20). This Court earlier issued an Opinion & Order denying
Select Sires' Motion to Dismiss. (ECF No. 104). Now
before this Court is Select Sires' Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 91). Alpont has filed a memorandum in
opposition (ECF No. 99) and Select Sires has filed a reply.
(ECF No. 102). This Motion is ripe for review.
issue is whether Ohio's workers' compensation scheme
immunizes Select Sires from Alpont's request for
contribution. Select Sires argues that, as a complying
employer, it is immune. O. R. C. § 4123.74. Alpont
argues that workers' compensation is a scheme that
governs the relationship of employees and their
employers and does not speak to the employers' liability
to third-parties. In the alternative, Alpont argues that
Sires' interpretation of the workers' compensation
scheme is unconstitutional as applied to third parties like
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides, in relevant part,
that summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant
shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” A fact is deemed material only if it “might
affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the governing
substantive law.” Wiley v. United States, 20
F.3d 222, 224 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). The nonmoving
party must then present “significant probative
evidence” to show that “there is [more than] some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Moore
v. Philip Morris Cos., Inc., 8 F.3d 335, 340
(6th Cir. 1993). The mere possibility of a factual dispute is
insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See
Mitchell v. Toledo Hospital, 964 F.2d 577, 582 (6th Cir.
1992). Summary judgment is inappropriate, however, “if
the dispute about a material fact is ‘genuine,'
that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
necessary inquiry for this Court is “whether ‘the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.'” Patton
v. Bearden, 8 F.3d 343, 346 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52). The mere existence of
a scintilla of evidence in support of the opposing
party's position will be insufficient to survive the
motion; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the opposing party. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251; Copeland v.
Machulis, 57 F.3d 476, 479 (6th Cir. 1995). It is proper
to enter summary judgment 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 Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Where the nonmoving party has “failed to make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of her case with
respect to which she has the burden of proof, ” the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322 (quoting Anderson,
477 U.S. at 250).
evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the evidence must
be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
S.E.C. v. Sierra Brokerage Servs., Inc., 712 F.3d
321, 327 (6th Cir. 2013).
Immunity / Contribution
issue in this case is whether, under Ohio law, a third-party
may demand contribution from an employer who is a complying
employer under Ohio's workers' compensation laws.
Generally, such a third-party may not so demand and such an
employer would be immune. See e.g., Williams v. Ashland
Chemical Co., 52 Ohio App.2d 81, 89 (1976). This
immunity, however, is conditioned on the employees'
actions being in the scope of ...