EState of Pigorsch ex rel. Martin v. York Coll.

Decision Date18 August 2010
Docket NumberNo. C09-4037-MWB,C09-4037-MWB
PartiesThe ESTATE OF Brock C. PIGORSCH, by the Administrator Rolinda L. Martin, Rolinda L. Martin, individually, and Bradley L. Pigorsch, individually, Plaintiffs, v. YORK COLLEGE, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff, v. Harlan Jacobsen d/b/a Video Mania and Eugene Camillocci, Third-Party Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
734 F.Supp.2d 704

The ESTATE OF Brock C. PIGORSCH, by the Administrator Rolinda L. Martin, Rolinda L. Martin, individually, and Bradley L. Pigorsch, individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
YORK COLLEGE, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
v.
Harlan Jacobsen d/b/a Video Mania and Eugene Camillocci, Third-Party Defendants.


No. C09-4037-MWB.

United States District Court,
N.D. Iowa,
Western Division.


Aug. 18, 2010.

734 F.Supp.2d 707

Scott Eric Nutter, Douglas Richard Bradley, Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd., Kansas City, MO, Frederick W. James, The James Law Firm, PC, Des Moines, IA, for Plaintiffs.

Michael P. Schmiedt, Crary Huff Inkster Hecht Sheehan Ringenberg Hartnett & Storm, Sioux City, IA, Thomas Culhane, Erickson Sederstrom, Omaha, NE, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT YORK COLLEGE'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 708
A. Factual Background 708
B. Procedural Background 708
II. LEGAL ANALYSIS 709
A. Summary Judgment Standards 709
B. Choice Of Law 710
C. Choice Of Law Rules 711
D. The § 145(2) "Contacts " 713
1. The place where injury occurred 713
2. The place where conduct causing the injury occurred 713
3. Place of domicile, residence, incorporation, or business 714
4. Place where the relationship was centered 714
5. Summary of § 145(2) contacts 715
E. The § 6 Factors 715
1. Needs of the interstate and international systems 715
2. Relevant policies of the forum and other interested states 716
3. Ease of determination and application of the law 717
4. Other § 6(2) factors 717
a. Protection of justified expectations 717
b. Basic underlying policies 717
c. Certainty, predictability and uniformity of result 717
F. Conclusion As To Conflict Of Law 717
III. CONCLUSION 718

This case, arising from the tragic death of a college student in a motor vehicle accident, turns the typical quest for "home court advantage" on its head: the defendant college is rooting for application of the law of the state in which the plaintiffs are residents, while the plaintiffs are rooting not for the law of their home state but for application of the law of the state where the tragic accident giving rise to

734 F.Supp.2d 708
their claims occurred. Under such circumstances, it comes as no surprise that the choice of law will have a significant impact upon the nature and amount of available damages, should the plaintiffs succeed on their claims.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The summary judgment record reveals the following undisputed facts. This case arises out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred on January 18, 2008, in Monona County, Iowa. Brock Pigorsch ("Brock"), a student at York College, died as a result of this accident. At the time of the accident, Brock was a passenger in a van owned by York College and driven by Michael Peralta, an employee of York College. York College is a Nebraska non-profit corporation with its principal place of business in York, Nebraska.

Peralta was transporting members of the York College wrestling team, including Brock, from York, Nebraska, to a wrestling meet in Orange City, Iowa. Peralta was authorized by York College to operate the York College van. The York College wrestling coaches reserved and checked out the York College van with the York College administration for travel to the wrestling meet in Orange City, Iowa.

During the 2007-2008 wrestling season, York College scheduled five wrestling meets in Iowa, which required the wrestling team to travel to Iowa. During the 2008-2009 wrestling season, the York College wrestling team again scheduled five wrestling meets in Iowa, which required the wrestling team to travel to Iowa.

At the time of his death, Brock was a resident of Kansas. Brock's mother and father, plaintiffs Rolinda Martin ("Rolinda") and Bradley Pigorsch ("Bradley"), reside in Kansas. Brock's estate is currently being probated in the District Court of Clay County, Kansas.

Third-party defendant Harlan Jacobsen d/b/a Video Mania ("Video Mania") conducts a business distributing a magazine for sale at truck stops. Video Mania, a South Dakota business, has paper vending machines in Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. At the time of the accident, third-party defendant Eugene Camillocci worked delivering magazines for Video Mania. He was returning to Sioux Falls after filling paper vending machines on his vending route in Iowa and Missouri. Camillocci is a South Dakota resident who lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

B. Procedural Background

On April 29, 2009, plaintiffs, the Estate of Brock C. Pigorsch, by the Administrator, Rolinda L. Martin, Rolinda L. Martin, individually, and Bradley L. Pigorsch, individually, filed their Complaint in this case against defendant York College. In their Complaint, plaintiffs allege that York College's employee, Michael S. Peralta, was negligent in driving a van owned by York College and, as a consequence, an accident occurred which resulted in the death of Brock C. Pigorsch. Plaintiffs allege that York College is vicariously liable for Peralta's negligent actions. Plaintiffs further allege that York College was negligent in entrusting the van to Peralta's operation. On June 24, 2009, York College filed its Answer to the Complaint denying the claims against it and asserting various affirmative defenses.

On January 4, 2010, York College filed a Third-Party Complaint against Harlan Jacobsen d/b/a Video Mania and Eugene Camillocci. In its Third-Party Complaint, York College alleges Camillocci's negligent driving caused the accident which resulted in Brock's death. Specifically, York College alleges that Camillocci suddenly

734 F.Supp.2d 709
moved from the right north bound lane of Interstate 29 to the left north bound lane and then abruptly slowed down in front of the York College van being driven by Peralta. The fatal accident then occurred when Peralta was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting Camillocci's car. Plaintiffs also filed their First Amended Complaint on January 4, 2010. In their First Amended Complaint, plaintiffs reasserted their negligent claims against York College and adopted York College's negligent claims against Video Mania and Camillocci. On February 3, 2010, Video Mania and Camillocci filed their answers to the Third-Party Complaint and the First Amended Complaint denying the claims against them.

On June 23, 2010, York College filed its Motion For Partial Summary Judgment (docket no. 40) now before the court seeking a ruling that Kansas law applies to this case. Alternatively, York College contends that if Kansas law is not applied, the court should apply Nebraska law. Plaintiffs filed their resistance to York College's motion on July 26, 2010, asserting that the facts and circumstances of this case require application of Iowa law, not Kansas law. York College then filed a reply brief in further support of its application for Kansas law on August 5, 2010.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Summary Judgment Standards

Motions for summary judgment essentially "define disputed facts and issues and ... dispose of unmeritorious claims [or defenses]." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1982, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) ("One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses...."). Summary judgment is only appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Id. 56(c) (emphasis added); see Woods v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 409 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir.2005) ("Summary judgment is appropriate if viewing the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."). A fact is material when it " 'might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.' " Johnson v. Crooks, 326 F.3d 995, 1005 (8th Cir.2003) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). Thus, "the substantive law will identify which facts are material." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. An issue of material fact is genuine if it has a real basis in the record, Hartnagel v. Norman, 953 F.2d 394, 395 (8th Cir.1992) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)), or when " 'a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party' on the question," Woods, 409 F.3d at 990 (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505); see Diesel Machinery, Inc. v. B.R. Lee Indus., Inc., 418 F.3d 820, 832 (8th Cir.2005) (stating genuineness depends on "whether a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party based on the evidence").

Procedurally, the moving party bears "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record which show a lack of a genuine issue," Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548), and demonstrating that it is entitled to judgment according to law. See

734 F.Supp.2d 710
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548 ("[T]he motion may, and should, be granted so long as whatever is before the district court demonstrates that the standard for the entry of summary judgment, as set forth in Rule 56(c), is satisfied."). Once the moving party has successfully carried its burden under Rule 56(c), the nonmoving party has an affirmative burden to go beyond the pleadings and by depositions, affidavits, or otherwise, designate "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Mosley v. City of Northwoods, Missouri, 415 F.3d...

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