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Fielder v. R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

January 11, 2018

JASON FIELDER, Plaintiff,
v.
R.V. COLEMAN TRUCKING, INC., ARKOS FIELD SERVICES, LP, EQT CORPORATION, EQUITRANS, LP d/b/a EQT MIDSTREAM, and EQT PRODUCTION COMPANY, Defendants, and R.V. COLEMAN TRUCKING, INC., Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
MEC CONSTRUCTION, LLC, Third-Party Defendant.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS EQT CORPORATION, EQT PRODUCTION COMPANY AND EQUITRANS LP'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING DEFENDANT R.V. COLEMAN TRUCKING, INC.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING DEFENDANT ARKOS FIELD SERVICES, LP'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING DEFENDANT R.V. COLEMAN TRUCKING INC.'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING PLAINTIFF JASON FIELDER'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING DEFENDANT MEC CONSTRUCTION LLC'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO DELIBERATE INTENTION AND DENYING RULING AS TO INDEMNITY OR CONTRIBUTION AS PREMATURE [1]

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Background

         This civil action is a personal injury case that arises out of a workplace accident. Plaintiff Jason Fielder (“Fielder”) originally filed suit in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County, West Virginia and this civil action was then removed to the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. ECF No. 1. This civil action was then transferred pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 455(b)(4), from United States District Judge Irene M. Keeley, to the undersigned judge. ECF No. 34.

         Plaintiff, Jason Fielder, was employed as a laborer for MEC Construction, LLC (“MEC”). He was working for MEC on the construction of a compressor station near Blacksville, West Virginia, which has been referred to as the Blacksville Compressor Station Phase 2 site. Defendants EQT Production Company, EQT Corporation, and Equitrans, LP, are hereinafter, referred to as the “EQT defendants.” MEC was hired by Equitrans as the prime/general contractor to construct the compressor station at the Blacksville Phase 2 site.

         EQT ordered a number of large steel pipes for the Blacksville Phase 2 compressor station from Arkos Field Services, LP (“Arkos”). On October 7, 2015, a number of pipes that were ordered by EQT were loaded onto a trailer at the Smithfield, Pennsylvania facility by an Arkos employee, Doug Lough. On October 16, 2014, the load of pipes was picked up by Cale Sukala, a driver for R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. (“R.V. Coleman”), at the Arkos facility. R.V. Coleman transported the load from the Arkos - Smithfield, PA facility to the Blacksville site.

         Upon arriving at the Blacksville Phase 2 site, the pipes were to be unloaded from the trailer. During the removal of the pipes, two large pipes rolled from the trailer and struck the plaintiff Jason Fielder. He was trapped beneath one of the pipes, and eventually taken to the hospital because of his injuries. The parties dispute whether the pipes were chocked and/or properly secured at the Arkos facility, during transport by R.V. Coleman, and when they arrived at the Blacksville Phase 2 site. The parties further dispute the manner in which the pipes were unloaded.

         The motions have been fully briefed and the parties' pending motions for summary judgment are ripe for decision.

         II. Applicable Law

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, this Court must grant a party's motion for summary judgment if “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). A fact is “material” if it might affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute of material fact is “genuine” if the evidence “is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Id. If the nonmoving party “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, ” summary judgment must be granted against the plaintiff. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In reviewing the supported underlying facts, all inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the absence of any genuine issues of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. “The burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with facts sufficient to create a triable issue of fact.” Temkin v. Frederick County Comm'rs, 945 F.2d 716, 718 (4th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1095 (1992). However, “a party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).

         III. Discussion

         Now before the Court are six pending motions for summary judgment which have been fully briefed: (1) motion for summary judgment by EQT Corporation, EQT Production Company, Equitrans, LP (ECF No. 112); (2) motion for summary judgment by R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. (ECF No. 113); (3) motion for summary judgment by Arkos Field Services, LP (ECF No. 114); (4) motion for partial summary judgment with respect to the third-party complaint against MEC Construction, LLC by R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. (ECF No. 115); (5) motion for summary judgment against defendant R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. by plaintiff Jason Fielder (ECF No. 116); (6) motion for summary judgment by MEC Construction, LLC (ECF No. 117).

         Following its review of the fully briefed motions, and the memoranda and exhibits submitted by the parties, this Court finds that, for the reasons set forth below, summary judgment in favor of the EQT defendants is appropriate, there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and these defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The other pending motions for summary judgment are denied.

         Accordingly, the motion for summary judgment by EQT Corporation, EQT Production Company, and Equitrans, LP (ECF No. 112) is granted; the motion for summary judgment by R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. (ECF No. 113) is denied; the motion for summary judgment by Arkos Field Services, LP (ECF No. 114) is denied; the motion for partial summary judgment with respect to the third-party complaint against MEC Construction, LLC by R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. (ECF No. 115) is denied; the motion for summary judgment against defendant R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc. by Jason Fielder (ECF No. 116) is denied; the motion for summary judgment by MEC Construction, LLC (ECF No. 117) is denied as to “deliberate intention.” A ruling as to indemnity or contribution is denied as premature.

         The motions for summary judgment are discussed, in turn, below.

         1. Motion for Summary Judgment by EQT Corporation, EQT Production Company, Equitrans, LP

         Defendant EQT Corporation, Equitrans, LP, d/b/a EQT Midstream, and EQT Production Company (“EQT”), filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 112) pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and moves this Court for judgment as a matter of law as to (1) all claims asserted against EQT and (2) the duty of Arkos Field Services, LP, R.V. Coleman Trucking, Inc., and MEC Construction, LLC to defend and indemnify EQT with respect to plaintiff's claims. ECF No. 112 at 2. EQT asserts in its memorandum in support, “[i]mportantly, EQT entered into Master Service Agreements (“MSA”) with [R.V. Coleman], MEC, and Arkos. The MSA's provide that R.V. Coleman, MEC, and Arkos will defend and indemnify EQT from Plaintiff's claims in this case.” ECF No. 112-1 at 5. EQT also states that additionally, the MSAs provide that Arkos, MEC, and R.V. Coleman are “responsible for the prevention of accidents and injury in the vicinity of or connected with [their] work.” ECF No. 112-1 at 8. Lastly, EQT asserts that the MSA provides a choice of law provision “wherein the parties agree that the MSA's shall be construed, interpreted, and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” ECF No. 112-1 at 9. EQT argues that:

Numerous depositions have been taken in this case, including deposition of Mr. Fielder, and employees of Arkos, MEC, and [R.V. Coleman]. No. witness testified that EQT supervised or directed the work of Arkos, [R.V. Coleman], or MEC employees with respect to loading, transporting, or unloading the shipment of pipes at issue. Additionally, each party submitted expert reports with respect to liability. No. expert opines that ...

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