United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
AFC, INC. ET AL.
MATHES BRIERRE ARCHITECTS
ORDER AND REASONS
M. Africk United States District Judge
Mathes Brierre Architects moves for summary judgment on the
ground that plaintiffs, AFC, Inc., Ernest Ladner, and Vonnie
Ladner, have neither a contribution nor an indemnity claim
against Mathes Brierre. For the following reasons, the motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
Mathes Brierre was the architect for the Boomtown Casino in
Harvey; plaintiff AFC was a subcontractor. (Plaintiffs Ernest
and Vonnie Ladner are the principals of AFC). Alleged
construction defects resulted in an arbitration proceeding
between the contractor of the Boomtown project and the
plaintiffs here. The arbitration ended after the plaintiffs
paid the Boomtown contractor to settle the arbitration.
alleging that the construction defects were solely due to the
fault of Mathes Brierre, then filed the present lawsuit
seeking contribution and/or indemnity from Mathes Brierre.
Mathes Brierre now moves for summary judgment.
judgment is proper when, after reviewing the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits, the court determines that there is no genuine
dispute of material fact. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
"[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the district court of the
basis for its motion and identifying those portions of [the
record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The party seeking
summary judgment need not produce evidence negating the
existence of material fact, but need only point out the
absence of evidence supporting the other party's case.
Id.; Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190, 1195
(5th Cir. 1986).
the party seeking summary judgment carries its burden
pursuant to Rule 56, the nonmoving party must come forward
with specific facts showing that there is a genuine dispute
of material fact for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The
showing of a genuine issue is not satisfied by creating
"'some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
' by 'conclusory allegations, ' by
'unsubstantiated assertions, ' or by only a
'scintilla' of evidence." Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations
omitted). Instead, a genuine issue of material fact exists
when the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The
party responding to the motion for summary judgment may not
rest upon the pleadings, but must identify specific facts
that establish a genuine issue. Id. The nonmoving
party's evidence, however, "is to be believed, and
all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in [the nonmoving
party's] favor." Id. at 255; see also
Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S. 541, 552 (1999).
complaint raises both a contribution claim and a legal
indemnity claim. R. Doc. No. 2, at 10 ¶
contribution claim fails. "[Contribution applies only
when joint tortfeasors are solidarily liable."
Solstice Oil & Gas I LLC v. OBES Inc., No.
12-2417, 2014 WL 5500685, at *4 (E.D. La. 2014). Since 1996,
solidary liability only exists in Louisiana for intentional
tort claims. Id. Plaintiffs do not raise intentional
tort claims. Thus, summary judgment is proper on the
contribution claim. Id.
leaves the Louisiana law legal indemnity claim. (There is no
contractual indemnity claim). "A claim for legal
indemnity arises only where the liability of the person
seeking indemnification is solely constructive or derivative
and only against one who, because of his act, has caused such
constructive liability to be imposed." Martco Ltd.
P'ship v. Bruks Inc., 430 F.App'x 332, 335 (5th
Cir. 2011). "Accordingly, a party who is actually
negligent or actually at fault cannot recover legal
indemnity." Id. (internal quotation marks and
plaintiffs timely filed their indemnity claim within one year
of the settlement with the contractor, see Reggio v.
E.T.I.,15 So. 951, 957-58 (La. 2008), the viability of
the indemnity claim turns on whether Mathes Brierre was
solely at fault for the construction defects. Plaintiffs have
submitted testimony that, if credited, indicates as much.