United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson Division
Phillip Wade GRIMES, Personal Representative of the Estate of O.G., Plaintiff,
YOUNG LIFE, INC., Inner Quest, Inc., and Adventure Experiences, Inc., Defendants.
T. Smith, Christina M. Bradford, Law Offices of Brian T.
Smith, Greenville, SC, Lee Delton Gunn, IV, Ryan A. Lopez,
Gunn Law Group PA, Tampa, FL, for Plaintiff.
Charles Rogers, Smith Moore Leatherwood LLP, W. Howard Boyd,
Jr., Gallivan White and Boyd, Greenville, SC, for Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
M. HERLONG, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on the cross-motions for summary
judgment of Defendants Young
Life, Inc. ("Young
Life") and Inner Quest, Inc.
("Inner Quest"). After consideration, the court
grants Young Life's
motion and denies Inner Quest's motion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case arises out of the death of Olivia Grimes
("Olivia"), at Young
Life's camp facility, Carolina Point, in
July 2015. (Young Life Mem.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 2, ECF No. 100-1.) The incident occurred
when Olivia fell from a three-person giant swing (the
"swing") and was fatally injured. (Id. at
2, ECF No. 100-1.)
January 2015, Young Life
requested that Inner Quest provide a quote for the
construction of the swing at the Carolina Point facility,
which is located in both North and South Carolina.
(Id. at 3-4, ECF No. 100-1.) Carolina Point's
offices are located in North Carolina. (Id. at 4
n.2, ECF No. 100-1.) The swing was to be constructed on the
South Carolina section of Carolina Point. (Id. at
3-4 n.2, ECF No. 100-1.) An Inner Quest representative
conducted a site visit to Carolina Point on February 21,
2015. (Young Life Mot.
Summ. J. Ex. 5 (Johnson Decl. Ex. B (Feb. 22, 2015 email)),
ECF No. 100-5.) On February 22, 2015, Young
Life requested by email that Inner Quest
send a final contract for the construction of the swing.
(Id. Ex. 5 (Johnson Ex. B (Feb. 22, 2015 email)),
ECF No. 100-5.) Inner Quest emailed Young
Life the final contract and requested that
Young Life sign and return
the contract if Young Life
agreed to the contract's terms. (Inner Quest Mot. Summ.
J. Ex. 2 (Contract 2), ECF No. 102-2.) The contract contained
an indemnification clause, which states:
The risk of use of the Challenge Course/Climbing Wall and
ancillary Equipment, by any person after completion of the
service performed by INNER QUEST pursuant to this Contract
shall be the sole responsibility of the Client. The Client
agrees to release, protect and indemnify (that is, defend and
pay, including costs and attorneys [sic] fees) INNER QUEST,
its staff, owners and directors from any claim for any loss
or injury, including death, however caused, arising in whole
or in part from the authorized or unauthorized use of the
Challenge Course/Climbing Wall or Equipment. The only
exception to the Client's agreement of release and
indemnity is a claim of loss which arises solely (that is, no
other factor- human, environmental or otherwise- contributed
to such a loss) from a negligent act or omission by INNER
QUEST in the performance of its contractual obligations.
(Id. Ex. 2 (Contract 2), ECF No. 102-2.) A
Young Life representative
signed the contract from the Carolina Point office located in
North Carolina and emailed it to Inner Quest.
(Young Life Mot. Summ. J.
Ex. 5 (Johnson Decl. ¶ 8 & Ex. D to Johnson Decl.
(Signed Contract)), ECF No. 100-1.) Subsequently, Inner Quest
began construction of the swing, which was completed on April
9, 2016. (Id. Ex. 7 (Inner Quest Ans. Pl. First
Interrog. ¶ 5), ECF No. 100-7.) On April 20, 2015,
Young Life paid the
remaining balance owed for construction of the swing.
(Id. Ex. 5 (Johnson Decl. ¶ 11), ECF No.
December 2, 2015, Phillip Wade Grimes, Olivia's personal
representative, filed the instant case alleging negligence
and strict liability causes of action in the Circuit Court
for Polk County, Florida. (Notice of Removal Ex. 1 (State Ct.
Docs. 10), ECF No. 1-1.) Young
Life and Adventure Experiences removed the
case to the Middle District of Florida on January 5, 2016.
(Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) The case was transferred to
this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a). (May 2, 2016
Order, ECF No. 31.) On June 1, 2016, Grimes amended the
complaint and added Inner Quest as a defendant. (Am. Compl.,
ECF No. 54.) On July 20, 2016, Inner Quest answered the
amended complaint and crossclaimed against
Young Life for contractual
and equitable indemnity. (Inner Quest Ans. Am. Compl., ECF
No. 74.) On December 21, 2016, Young
Life filed a motion for summary judgment on
Inner Quest's crossclaims for indemnity.
(Young Life. Mot. Summ. J.,
ECF No. 100.) Inner Quest responded and also moved for
summary judgment on its crossclaims on January 4, 2017.
(Inner Quest Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 102.) On January 18,
2017, Young Life replied in
support of its motion and responded in opposition to Inner
Quest's motion. (Young
Life Reply, ECF No. 105;
Young Life Resp. Opp'n
Inner Quest Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 106.) Inner Quest replied
on January 25, 2017. (Inner Quest Reply, ECF No. 109.) This
matter is now ripe for consideration.
DISCUSSION OF THE LAW
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate only "if the movant shows that
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). In deciding whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the evidence of the non-moving party is
to be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn
in his favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, "[o]nly
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted." Id. at 248.
litigant "cannot create a genuine issue of material fact
through mere speculation or the building of one inference
upon another." Beale v. Hardy,769 F.2d 213,
214 (4th Cir. 1985). "Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, disposition by summary judgment is
appropriate." Monahan v. County of
Chesterfield,95 F.3d 1263, 1265 (4th Cir. 1996).
"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise
properly supported motion for summary judgment; the