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Malone v. Barnette

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

June 2, 2015

PATRICIA MITCHELL MALONE, Plaintiff,
v.
CALVIN EUGENE BARNETTE, PARKER TRUCKING SERVICES, INC., ADVANTAGE TRUCK LEASING, LLC, YOUNG'S TRUCK CENTER, INC, VOLVO/GMC TRUCK CENTER OF THE CAROLINAS, AND PAXTON VAN LINES OF NORTH CAROLINA, INC., Defendants, YOUNG'S TRUCK CENTER, INC., Cross-Claimant,
v.
PAXTON VAN LINES OF NORTH CAROLINA, INC., Cross-Defendant, CALVIN EUGENE BARNETTE, Cross-Claimant,
v.
ADVANTAGE TRUCK LEASING, LLC and YOUNG'S TRUCK CENTER, INC., Cross-Defendants,
v.
PAXTON VAN LINES OF NORTH CAROLINA, INC., Cross-Defendant

Heard in the Court of Appeals 7 January 2015.

Hedrick, Gardner, Kincheloe & Garofalo, L.L.P., by Ellen P. Wortman, for cross-claimant-appellee Young's Truck Center, Inc.

Teague Campbell Dennis & Gorham, L.L.P., by Leslie P. Lasher, for cross-defendant-appellant Paxton Van Lines of North Carolina, Inc.

DAVIS, Judge. Judges ELMORE and TYSON concur.

OPINION

Page 257

Appeal by cross-defendant Paxton Van Lines of North Carolina, Inc. from order entered 28 March 2014 by Judge Phyllis M. Gorham in New Hanover County Superior Court, No. 13 CVS 2944.

Page 258

DAVIS, Judge.

Paxton Van Lines of North Carolina, Inc. (" Paxton" ) appeals from the trial court's order granting partial summary judgment in favor of Young's Truck Center d/b/a Advantage Truck Leasing, LLC (" Young's" ) on Young's cross-claims against Paxton for contractual indemnification. On appeal, Paxton contends that the entry of partial summary judgment in favor of Young's was improper because the claims for which Young's seeks indemnification are not covered by the indemnity provision contained in the rental agreement between them. After careful review, we affirm the trial court's order.

Factual Background

On 1 August 2013, Patricia Mitchell Malone (" Malone" ) filed a complaint in New Hanover County Superior Court against Calvin Eugene Barnette (" Barnette" ), Parker Trucking Services, Inc., Young's, Volvo/GMC Truck Center of the Carolinas, and Paxton (collectively " Defendants" ). The complaint alleged that on 1 August 2010, Malone was driving east on Holly Tree Road in Wilmington, North Carolina when a 2004 GMC truck (" the Truck" ) driven by Barnette, an employee of Paxton, struck her vehicle at the intersection of Holly Tree Road and South College Road. In her complaint, Plaintiff further asserted that the Truck had been leased from Young's by Paxton pursuant to a rental agreement (" the Rental Agreement" ) executed 29 July 2010 and that Defendants had been negligent in failing to inspect and maintain the braking system on the Truck, leading to Barnette's collision with Malone's vehicle and her resulting injuries.

On 21 October 2013, Barnette filed a cross-claim against Young's alleging that it had " breached its general and statutory duty of care by leasing a truck with defective brakes to Paxton . . . which [Young's] knew or should have known would cause injury to persons either driving the truck or traveling on roadways." Barnette's cross-claim alleged that Young's negligence proximately caused the physical injuries he suffered in the collision and sought compensatory and punitive damages. Barnette filed an amended cross-claim against Young's on 10 January 2014, which eliminated his prior allegations of gross negligence and his request for punitive damages.

In response to both Malone's and Barnette's negligence claims, Young's filed cross-claims against Paxton on 1 October 2013 and 15 January 2014, respectively. In these cross-claims, Young's alleged that pursuant to the Rental Agreement, Paxton was contractually required to indemnify Young's for any monetary damages that Young's may be obligated to pay as a result of a settlement or judgment relating to the 1 August 2010 accident as well as for any attorneys' fees and costs Young's incurs in defending such claims.

Young's filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to its cross-claims for contractual indemnification on 16 January 2014. The motion came on for hearing on 17 February 2014 before the Honorable Phyllis M. Gorham, and on 28 March 2014, Judge Gorham entered an order granting partial summary judgment in Young's favor, stating in pertinent part as follows:

After reviewing the pleadings and other documents of record, and after hearing arguments of counsel, the Court finds that there are no genuine issues of material fact and Defendant Young's . . . is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law. After reviewing the pleadings of record, and after hearing arguments of counsel, the court further finds that Paxton is not entitled to judgment on the pleadings as to [Young's].
IT IS THEREFORE, ordered that Young's . . . MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT is GRANTED and Young's . . . is entitled to contractual indemnification for monetary damages payable as a result of settlement or judgment against Young's . . . and for defense

Page 259

costs and attorney fees incurred by Young's . . . as a result of or in defense of the actions asserted by Patricia Mitchell Malone, Calvin Eugene Barnett ...

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