Ogilvie v. Steele by Steele, 3-1282A342

Citation452 N.E.2d 167
Case DateAugust 08, 1983
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 167

452 N.E.2d 167
Richard B. OGILVIE, as Trustee of the Property of Chicago,
Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company,
Debtor, Defendant-Appellant,
Leonard STEELE, Jr., and Brenda Steele, Jennifer Steele and
Vanessa Steele, Minors by next friend, Brenda
STEELE, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
Consolidated Rail Corporation; Kenneth L. Walker,
No. 3-1282A342.
Court of Appeals of Indiana,
Third District.
Aug. 8, 1983.

Page 168

Henry J. Price, David F. Snively, James B. Lootens, Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, David C. Jensen, Eichhorn, Eichhorn & Link, Hammond, for defendant-appellant.

Harold Abrahamson, Abrahamson, Reed & Tanasijevich, Hammond, for defendant-appellee Consol. Rail Corp.

STATON, Judge.

The Steele family was injured when their van collided with a train owned and operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad Company (Chicago Railroad). The Steeles sued Chicago Railroad for the negligent operation of its train and they sued the Consolidated Railroad Corporation (Conrail), the owner of the railroad tracks, for negligent maintenance of its railroad crossing. Pursuant to its lease agreement with Chicago Railroad, Conrail filed a cross-claim against the Chicago Railroad for indemnification against Conrail's own negligence. In a motion for summary judgment on Conrail's cross-claim, Chicago Railroad unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the lease's indemnification clause. Chicago Railroad appeals the denial of its motion for summary judgment and raises the following issues:

(1) Is the indemnification clause void as against public policy because the lease agreement is a "construction contract" under IC 1982, 26-2-5-1 (Burns Code Supp.)?

(2) Does the indemnification clause "clearly and unequivocally" show that Chicago Railroad "willingly and knowingly" agreed to indemnify Conrail against Conrail's own negligence when the accident involved only Chicago Railroad's train?


Page 169


Construction Contract

Trial courts grant summary judgments pursuant to Ind.Rules of Procedure, Trial Rule 56, to terminate cases without factual dispute and which may be determined as a matter of law. Although TR. 56 helps expose spurious cases and eliminate undue burdens on litigants, the courts must exercise caution to ensure a party of his right to a fair determination of a genuine issue. Improbability of recovery by one party does not justify summary judgment for the opposition. Bassett v. Glock (1977), 174 Ind.App. 439, 443, 368 N.E.2d 18, 20-21.

Summary judgments result when the court applies the law to undisputed facts. It may consider affidavits, depositions, admissions, interrogatories, and testimony. Bassett, supra. In addition, the court must consider as true the facts set forth in the opposition's affidavits and liberally construe the discovery in his favor. Poxon v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. (1980), Ind.App ., 407 N.E.2d 1181, 1184.

On review of a denial of summary judgment this Court must determine if there exists any genuine issue of material fact. Hale v. Peabody Coal Co. (1976), 168 Ind.App. 336, 339, 343 N.E .2d 316, 320. Any doubt about the existence of a genuine issue of material fact must be resolved against the moving party. Moreover, even if the facts are undisputed, summary judgments are inappropriate when the evidence before the court reveals a good faith dispute as to the inferences to be drawn from those facts. Id.

The record reveals that at the time of the accident Chicago Railroad had a lease agreement with Conrail to operate its trains over some of Conrail's railroad tracks. The lease provided liability indemnification of both parties under certain circumstances. Chicago Railroad contends that the trial court erred when it denied the summary judgment motion on Conrail's cross-claim. It asserts that the lease is a "construction contract" or at least is collateral to or affects such a contract which, under IC 1982, 26-2-5-1 (Burns Code Supp.), can not include a clause that indemnifies a party against its own negligence.

IC 26-2-5-1 prevents a party from contracting out of liability for his negligence. It reads:

"Agreements of indemnification void--Exception.--All provisions, clauses, covenants, or agreements contained in, collateral to, or affecting any construction or design contract except those pertaining to highway contracts, which purport to indemnify the promisee against...

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26 cases
  • Gaffney v. Riverboat Services of Indiana, 04-3829.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 16, 2006
    ...notice of the harsh burden that complete indemnification imposes," indemnification was inappropriate); Ogilvie v. Steele by Steele, 452 N.E.2d 167, 170 (Ind. App.1983) (holding that "[an indemnification] clause must expressly state, in clear and unequivocal terms, that the indemnitor agrees......
  • Davis v. Hoosier Energy Rural Elec. Co-op, Inc., s. 93-1250
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    ...prohibitive legislation, there is ordinarily no public policy which prevents parties from contracting as they desire." Ogilvie v. Steele, 452 N.E.2d 167, 170 (Ind.App. 3 Dist.1983); see also Moore Heating & Plumbing, Inc. v. Huber, Hunt & Nichols, 583 N.E.2d 142, 145 (Ind.App. 1 Dist.1991);......
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    ...clear and unequivocal terms. 2 Weaver v. American Oil Co. (1971), 257 Ind. 458, 276 N.E.2d 144, 148; Ogilvie v. Steele (1983), Ind.App., 452 N.E.2d 167. An indemnification clause in a lease is not void or voidable as against public policy simply because the indemnitee is charged with a nond......
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    ...of recovery by one party does not justify summary judgment for the opposition. Ogilvie v. Steele and Steele, (1983) Ind.App., 452 N.E.2d 167. The Hospital first points out that the Indiana Workmen's Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy of an employee injured in an accident arising out o......
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