Morrison Mahoney Partner Bill Staar and Associate Catherine Bousquet, recently won a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the Derry Village (New Hampshire) Condominium Association ("Derry") and its property manager, i.e., Cedar Management Group ("Cedar") in a $2,000,000-demand lawsuit stemming from a significant slip-and-fall accident. (Theberge v. Derry Village Condominium Association, et al.; New Hampshire Superior Court (Rockingham County); No.-218-2018-CV-01112)
Since 2012, Puzzo Brothers Lawn Care ("Puzzo") had been Derry's ice-and-snow-removal company. During the evening of February 2017, the plaintiff visited Derry's facility to visit his fiance, who was a resident. Upon exiting the car in a space adjacent to a parking lot, the plaintiff allegedly slipped on ice, fell, and suffered substantial injuries. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed suit against Derry, Cedar, and Puzzo, arguing negligence against each. Derry and Cedar cross-claimed against Puzzo arguing, among other things, contractual indemnity.
Near the close of discovery, Derry and Cedar moved for summary judgment against Puzzo. Puzzo opposed, arguing, among other things, (1) that indemnification was not triggered because the plaintiff had not yet proved Puzzo's negligence and (2) that, during discovery, the plaintiff had suggested that low lighting and/or poor drainage due the slope of the subject parking lot were factors potentially contributing to the accident.
The court (Wageling, J.) granted the motion and noted, among other things, (1) that a mere claim by a third party related to ice and/or snow triggered Puzzo's indemnity obligation and (2) that the plaintiff had not alleged in the Complaint that poor lighting and/or an improper slope of the subject area where the plaintiff fell were factors relevant to the plaintiff's fall. Additionally, the Court ordered Puzzo to pay the legal fees and costs of Derry and Cedar.