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Middlesex Hospital v. On Assignment Staffing Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 21, 2017

MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL, Plaintiff,
v.
ON ASSIGNMENT STAFFING SERVICES, INC., Defendant.

          RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Alvin W. Thompson United States District Judge

         The plaintiff, Middlesex Hospital, brings claims against On Assignment Staffing Services, Inc. (“On Assignment”) for contractual indemnification (First Count), breach of contract (Second Count) and common law indemnification (Third Count). Defendant On Assignment moves for summary judgment against Middlesex Hospital as to all three counts. For the reasons set forth below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is being granted.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On or about April 22, 2005, the parties entered into a “Temporary Staffing Agreement” (“2005 Staffing Agreement”). On June 30, 2011, On Assignment sent Middlesex Hospital via e-mail a new staffing agreement (“2012 Staffing Agreement”). Middlesex Hospital informed On Assignment that it “‘will sign the new staffing agreement' and that Middlesex Hospital then had an opening for an ER [Emergency Room] nurse.” (Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of On Assignment Staffing Services, Inc. (Doc. No. 22)(“Rule 56(a)(1) Statement”) at ¶ 9; Local Rule 56(a)(2) Statement of Middlesex Hospital (Doc. No. 29) (“Rule 56(a)(2)Statement”) at ¶ 9-11.) On July 8, 2011, On Assignment sent Middlesex Hospital a profile for Gary Hinds, RN, for consideration for the ER opening. By July 13, 2011, Middlesex Hospital notified On Assignment that it was accepting Hinds to work at Middlesex Hospital and that he would start on August 8, 2011. On Assignment emailed Middlesex Hospital the confirmation documentation for Hinds on July 15, 2011. Middlesex Hospital advised On Assignment that it needed more information regarding the shifts that Hinds would work. On July 19, 2011, On Assignment emailed Middlesex Hospital a revised confirmation.On July 20, 2011, Middlesex Hospital signed the “Confirmation of Acceptance”, which stated, in pertinent part:

This correspondence confirms the placement of Gary Hinds for the position of Registered Nurse at your facility pursuant to the Agreement between On Assignment Healthcare Staffing and Middlesex Hospital dated 4/22/2005.

(Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 12; Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 12.) On or about August 8, 2011, Hinds began a 13-week assigned term performing nursing services at Middlesex Hospital.

         On the evening of October 11, 2011, Hinds provided nursing care to a number of patients, including a woman named Gloria Hall. Hall had been transported to Middlesex Hospital by ambulance in connection with a Police Emergency Examination Request and was admitted at 9:16 p.m.. The charge nurse, Timothy Reynolds, performed a nursing assessment that included assessment of the patient's suicide risk, which Reynolds rated as low. Subsequently, the patient was assigned to Hinds. In the early morning of October 12, 2011, Hinds was the first person to attend to Hall after he found her unresponsive. Efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. Within days, Middlesex Hospital notified On Assignment that it would not be retaining Hinds for the remainder of the assigned 13-week term.

         On or about August 1, 2012, Middlesex Hospital executed the 2012 Staffing Agreement that On Assignment had sent to it on June 30, 2011. On October 3, 2012, On Assignment executed the 2012 Staffing Agreement and emailed the fully-executed agreement to Middlesex Hospital.

         The 2012 Staffing Agreement contained the following language:

The terms of this Staffing Agreement (“Agreement”) are agreed to on June 30, 2011 by and between On Assignment Staffing Services, Inc., d/b/a On Assignment Healthcare Staffing (“On Assignment”) and MIDDLESEX HOSPITAL (“Client”) (each a “Party” and collectively the “Parties”). (Appendix to Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement (Doc. No. 22-1)(“APP.”) at Page 72. (emphasis in original).) It also contains the following merger clause:
7.2 Complete Agreement and Amendment. This Agreement, including all Attachments, constitutes the complete and Integrated understanding of the Parties with respect to the subject matter of this Agreement and supersedes all prior understandings and agreements, whether written or oral, with respect to the same subject matter. This agreement may only be amended (including amendments to the pricing set forth in the Attachments) by a written agreement duly signed by persons authorized to sign agreements on behalf of each Party.

(APP. at Page 73.)

         In September 2013, Hall's estate commenced a lawsuit against Middlesex Hospital and On Assignment alleging negligence on the part of Middlesex Hospital and On Assignment. In December 2013, Middlesex Hospital reached a settlement with Hall's estate, and in January 2014, the estate withdrew its lawsuit against both Middlesex Hospital and On Assignment. In July 2014, Middlesex Hospital commenced the instant action in Connecticut Superior Court, and On Assignment removed the action to federal court.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such issue warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). Rule 56(c) “mandates the entry of summary judgment . . . against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.

         Summary judgment is inappropriate only if the issue to be resolved is both genuine and related to a material fact. Therefore, the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment. An issue is “genuine . . . if 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) (internal quotation marks omitted). A material fact is one that would “affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. As the Court observed in Anderson: “[T]he materiality determination rests on the substantive law, [and] it is the substantive law's identification of which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant that governs.” Id. Thus, only those facts that must be decided in order to resolve a claim or defense will prevent summary judgment from being granted. When confronted with an asserted factual dispute, the court must examine the elements of the claims and defenses at issue on the motion to determine whether a resolution of that dispute could affect the disposition of any of those claims or defenses. Immaterial or minor facts will not prevent summary judgment. See Howard v. Gleason Corp., 901 F.2d 1154, 1159 (2d Cir. 1990).

         When reviewing the evidence on a motion for summary judgment, the court must “assess the record in the light most favorable to the non-movant and . . . draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co. v. Consol. Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 177 (2d Cir. 1990)). Because credibility is not an issue on summary judgment, the nonmovant's evidence must be accepted as true for purposes of the motion. Nonetheless, the inferences drawn in favor of the nonmovant must be supported by the evidence. “[M]ere speculation and conjecture is insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.” Stern v. Trustees of Columbia Univ., 131 F.3d 305, 315 (2d Cir. 1997) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d. Cir. 1990)). Moreover, the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmovant's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which [a] jury could reasonably find for the [nonmovant].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         III. ...


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