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July 29, 1999


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Scheindlin, District Judge.


I. Introduction

Plaintiff Basil Waite ("Waite") originally brought this personal injury action against defendant American Airlines, Inc. ("American") in the Supreme Court of New York, Bronx County. American removed the action to the Southern District of New York and now moves for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, American's motion for summary judgment is granted.

II. Background

Plaintiff began working in September 1995 as a baggage handler for AMR Services Corporation ("AMR"), an independent contractor providing baggage handling services to American at its terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, Queens. See Complaint ("Compl.") ¶ 8. On his first day of work, plaintiff received on-the-job training from his supervisor, an AMR employee, that consisted of instructions on how to lift bags from the ticket counter and place them on the conveyor belt. See Deposition of Basil Waite ("Waite Dep.") at p. 31.

On or about November 18, 1995, plaintiff reported for his usual shift beginning at 6:00 a.m. See id. at pp. 26, 49. From 6:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., the baggage belt carrying the bags away from the ticket counter was working normally. See id. at pp. 56-57. At approximately 10:15 a.m., plaintiff noticed a bag on the conveyor belt that was slightly twisted and hanging over the edge of the belt. See id. at pp. 57-58, 65. Realizing that the bag would be unable to proceed around the curve of the conveyor, Waite attempted to straighten the bag with his right hand. See id. at pp. 66-68. In the process, Waite's sleeve got caught in the gap where two belts meet and the roller of one of the belts pulled and twisted his right hand and forearm underneath the connecting belt. See id. at pp. 69-77. A co-worker hit the emergency button to stop the belt, and American's maintenance personnel dismantled the machine to free Waite's arm from the belt. See id. at pp. 80-81, 85-89. American's maintenance workers then reassembled the machine, which continued to function normally. See Deposition of John Klinger ("Klinger Dep."), facility maintenance mechanic for American, at pp. 29-30; Deposition of Vito Martino ("Martino Dep."), American's supervisor of the facilities department at the time of the accident, at pp. 54-56.

As a result of this accident, Waite suffered pain and inflammation in his right arm, causing him to lose normal use of his arm and hand for four months. During this time, Waite kept his arm bandaged and in a sling. See generally, Waite Dep. at pp. 90-108. Waite was confined to his home for two months and did not work for almost two years. See id. at pp. 121-22. He still has not regained full use of his right arm; Waite can now lift up to 35 pounds but was previously able to lift up to 100 pounds. See id. at pp. 114-17, 141.

Waite has not been able to return to his previous job as a baggage handler. He began looking for "light duty work" upon his doctor's authorization, and found a job as a security guard at a Rite-Aid store in September 1997. Id. at pp. 135-38. He received workers' compensation benefits from AMR for treatment of his injuries.*fn1 See id. at p. 132.

III. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff is a citizen of New York and defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Texas. Plaintiff seeks $1,000,000 in damages.

IV. Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

A motion for summary judgment may be granted only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The movant has the burden of identifying evidence that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Schwapp v. Town of Avon, 118 F.3d 106, 110 (2d Cir. 1997). Once this burden has been met, the non-moving party must come forward with evidence that is more than "mere speculation and conjecture," Western World Insurance Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc., 922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1990), but "would be sufficient to support a jury verdict in its favor." Goenaga v. March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, 51 F.3d 14, 18 (2d Cir. 1995).

In determining whether summary judgment should be granted, the court resolves all ambiguities and draws all reasonable inferences against the moving party. See D'Amico v. City of New York, 132 F.3d 145, 148 (2d Cir. 1998). The moving party, however, is not required to affirmatively disprove unsupported assertions made by the non-movant, see Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, and if the evidence presented by the non-movant is "merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Scotto v. Almenas, 143 F.3d 105 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-250, 106 S.Ct. 2505). The court must also examine "the substantive law applicable to the underlying ...

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