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