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Quiles v. The City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

October 23, 2013

ELADIO QUILES, Plaintiff, -
v.
- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff, -
v.
- MOOSE BOAT INTERNATIONAL, Third-Party Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Eladio Quiles, Plaintiff: John Paton James, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bernard D. Friedman, Friedman, James & Buchsbaum LLP, New York, NY.

For The City of New York, Defendant, ThirdParty Plaintiff, Counter Defendant: Monica Kelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York City Law Depart. Office of the Corporation Counsel, New York, NY; Thomas Michael Hoey, Jr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Corporation Counsel Office City of New York, New York, NY.

For Moose Boat, Inc., ThirdParty Defendant, Counter Claimant: Carl Anthony Formicola, Lewis, Johs, Avallone & Aviles, LLP, New York, NY.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM DECISION

FRANK MAAS, United States Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Eladio Quiles (" Quiles" ), a former New York City Police Department (" NYPD" ) officer assigned to the Harbor Unit was injured on October 8, 2008, while attempting to disembark from a " Moose Boat" that the NYPD was testing. In this personal injury action brought pursuant to the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, Quiles claims that his employer, Defendant/Third-Party Plaintiff City of New York (" City" ), was negligent in failing to provide a reasonably safe place to work. Quiles further alleges that the Moose Boat was unseaworthy. After Quiles served his complaint, the City filed a third-party complaint against the manufacturer of the vessel, Moose Boat Inc. (" MBI" ),[1] seeking indemnification or contribution for any losses incurred by the City as a result of Quiles' claims.

The City has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking the dismissal of Quiles' complaint on the grounds that: (1) he was not a " seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act at the time of his injury; (2) the City was not negligent; and (3) the Moose Boat was seaworthy. In addition, MBI has moved for summary judgment against the City arguing that the third-party complaint should be dismissed because: (1) Quiles' inability to sue MBI directly under the Jones Act precludes the City from seeking to recover from MBI based on Quiles' claim; (2) MBI did not have control of the Moose Boat on the date of Quiles' injury and, thus, cannot be held liable; and (3) the Moose Boat was seaworthy.

For the reasons set forth below, the City's motion (ECF No. 29) is denied, as is MBI's motion (ECF No. 25).

I. Factual Background

Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed:

Quiles joined the NYPD in October 1990. (ECF No. 31 (Affirm. of Ass't Corp. Counsel Thomas M. Hoey, dated Feb. 19, 2013 (" Hoey Affirm." )), Ex. B (" Quiles Dep." ) at 14, 25-26). In 2003 the NYPD reassigned Quiles to the Harbor Unit where he served as a deckhand. (Id. at 29-34). This position required that he go through one month of training at the Harbor Charlie station house in Brooklyn. (Id. at 29-30, 32-34). As a deckhand, his responsibilities included cleaning boats, moving equipment, and throwing lines. (Id. at 34). He was instructed to use dock staircases when entering vessels, and to exit vessels " safely and carefully." (Id. at 34). In particular, he was told to step onto the staircase and then onto the dock when exiting a 30-foot launch. (Id. at 35). When a 30-foot launch docked at a location

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without a staircase, however, it was " common practice" to alight by jumping from the side of the boat onto the dock. (Id. at 37-38).

During his time with the Harbor Unit, Quiles was assigned to Harbor Charlie, although he at times would be sent to two other station houses, Harbor Adam and Harbor George. (Id. at 40). As a deckhand, " almost all of [his] time was spent piloting or crewing various police launches." (ECF No. 36 (Affirm. of John P. James, Esq., sworn to on Mar. 11, 2013 (" James Affirm." )), Ex. 1 (" Quiles ...


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