The opinion of the court was delivered by: Motley, District Judge.
This is an action for damage to CD-ROM drives shipped from Manila,
Philippines to Los Angeles, California. For the reasons outlined below,
summary judgment provides an appropriate means to establish defendant's
liability as well as the amount of damages based on the actual value of
the goods. This case is governed by the Convention for the Unification of
Certain Rules Relating to International Transportation by Air, October
12, 1929, 49 Stat. 3000, T.S. 876 (1934), reprinted in
49 U.S.C. § 40105 (commonly known as "the Warsaw Convention").
Mitsumi Electronics Corp. ("Mitsumi") contracted with Pan Globe Cargo
Express, Inc. ("Pan Globe") to transport 5,400 CD-ROM drives from
Manila, Philippines to Los Angeles by air. Pan Globe accepted delivery of
the 5,400 CD-ROM drives packed in 540 cartons in good condition. Pan
Globe contracted with defendant, China Airlines, Ltd. ("China
Airlines"), to ship the goods to Los Angeles. On May 29, 1996 China
Airlines accepted all 540 cartons in Manila in good condition.
China Airlines flew the cargo from Manila to Taipei, Taiwan on flight
CI636, then from Taipei to San Francisco on flight CI308 (making a
scheduled stop in Anchorage, Alaska), and finally from San Francisco to
Los Angeles on flight CI307. When the cargo arrived in Los Angeles China
Airlines noted that some of the cartons were wet.
Mitsumi had insured the goods with Mitsui Marine and Fire Insurance
Co. ("Mitsui"). Mitsui retained the firm of McLaren Toplis North
America, Inc. ("McLaren") to survey the cargo and assess the damage.
Mitsui determined that 950 CD-ROM drives had sustained water damage
depriving them of any commercial or salvage value. Mitsui paid Mitsumi
$95,047.50 under the insurance policy. The plaintiff in this case is
Mitsui, bringing this action as subrogated underwriter of Mitsumi. The
contracted sale price of the shipped CD-ROM drives was $87 each. The
invoice price for the 950 damaged CD-ROM drives amounted to $82,650.
Both parties have moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff's motion seeks
to establish three findings: 1) defendant's liability for the water
damage; 2) that the damages for such liability are not limited by the
Warsaw Convention; 3) that the damages amount to $82,650. A finding for
plaintiff on all three issues resolves the entire case. Defendant's motion
involves partial summary judgment, seeking to limit any potential
liability for damages to $20 per kilogram. Granting plaintiff's motion
necessarily involves denying defendant's motion, thus, only plaintiff's
motion is discussed below.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This circuit recognizes the value of summary judgment to expeditiously
of meritless litigation. See Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp.,
613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980). The mechanism of summary judgment
promotes judicial economy by preventing further litigation on an issue
with an unalterably predetermined outcome. The standard for summary
judgment ensures that issues are efficiently resolved without
compromising the rights of the non-moving party.
Summary judgment may be granted only if the moving
party can show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. The court
must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all
ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party.
Ametex Fabrics, Inc. v. Just In Materials, Inc., 140 F.3d 101, 107 (2d
Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted). Thus, the mere existence of a
factual dispute between parties does not preclude summary judgment when
the dispute is not genuine or when the disputed facts are immaterial. A
disputed fact is immaterial when the outcome of the case remains the same
regardless of the disputed issue. Factual questions which prove
immaterial fail to preclude summary judgment. See Knight v. U.S. Fire
Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986) (noting that the existence
of unresolved immaterial issues does not suffice to defeat a motion for
A party may not rely on "mere speculation or conjecture as to the true
nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary judgment". Knight
v. U.S. Fire Insurance Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11 (2d Cir. 1986).
Nor are judges any longer required to submit a
question to a jury merely because some evidence has
been introduced by the party having the burden of
proof, unless the evidence be of such a character that
it would warrant the jury in finding a verdict in
favor of that party. Formerly it was held that if
there was what is called a scintilla of evidence in
support of a case the judge was bound to leave it to
the jury, but recent decisions of high authority have
established a more reasonable rule, that in every
case, before the evidence is left to the jury, there
is a preliminary question for the judge, not whether
there is literally no ...