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Nguyen v. Morrison Healthcare

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 29, 2018

DUNG NGUYEN and NGOC-ANH VU, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiff Dung Nguyen brings this action against Defendant Morrison Healthcare (“Morrison”) alleging a claim for negligence related to a trip and fall. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1.) Plaintiff Ngoc-Anh Vu brings a claim for loss of society, services, and consortium. (Id.) Defendant moves pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for summary judgment as to both claims.


         On January 1, 2010, Defendant Morrison entered into an agreement with Staten Island University Hospital (the “Hospital”) to “exclusively provide the Services for the Hospital's food services program . . . and Food and Nutrition Services Department” with Morrison “provid[ing] the Services on the Hospital's behalf as the Hospital's agent” (the “Agreement”). (Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 2, ECF No. 20-3; Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 1.1(a), ECF No. 20-5.) The term “Services” is defined under the Agreement as “the supervision of the food services at the Facility and catered events, as exclusively provided to Hospital by Morrison under this Agreement . . . .” (Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 10.7.) Under the Agreement, Morrison was obligated to provide management personnel for the Hospital's food and nutrition department. (Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 1.2(a).) In addition to management personnel, the Agreement called for hourly personnel, which the Hospital, as opposed to Morrison, had the sole authority to hire, employ, and terminate. (Def.'s 56.1

         Statement ¶¶ 5-8.) Specifically, with regard to hourly personnel, the Agreement provided:

[A]ll hourly personnel of the Program and the Department who work at the Facility (the “Hourly Personnel”) will be carried as part of the Hospital's payroll, and all expenses in connection with the Hourly Personnel shall be paid by the Hospital. The Hospital shall be responsible for all costs related to the Hourly Personnel, including all wages and associated payroll costs such as payroll taxes, insurance and fringe benefits.

(Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 1.2(b).) Consistent with this provision, the Hospital recruited all food services employees, performed background checks, hired the food services employees, and managed all payroll functions. (Id. ¶¶ 6-7.) Morrison did not have the authority to fire hourly personnel. (Id. ¶ 8.)

         With regard to Morrison management personnel, the Hospital could request the removal of any individual and, under the Agreement's terms, Morrison was required to comply with the request “provided such request [wa]s lawful, reasonably justified in writing, and Morrison [wa]s first given an opportunity to respond and address such issues consistent with th[e] Agreement.” (Id. ¶ 9.; Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 1.2(a).) Morrison was required to follow all applicable Hospital policies and procedures and comply with Hospital training requirements. (Id. ¶ 10.)

         The Hospital was responsible for both supplying the facility Morrison used to provide its services and for ensuring that the facility was “equipped and furnished.” (Def.'s Ex. B ¶ 1.4(a).) Specifically, the Agreement provided:

The Hospital will ensure that the Facility (including the kitchen) is in good, clean, sanitary, working condition, as of the beginning of Morrison's Services. The Hospital will maintain the Facility and all items furnished by the Hospital (the “Property”) in accordance with Applicable Law, and make all repairs or replacements to the Facility and Property at its expense, except that Morrison shall be responsible for damage to the same caused by the gross negligence of Morrison's employees.

(Id.) The Hospital also bore the risks associated with costs and losses connected to the operation of the food and nutrition department, “including but not limited to payroll costs, Morrison's fees and charges, and all food, labor, supply and other standard costs.” (Id. at ¶ 2.2(c).)

         Plaintiff Nguyen was employed by the Hospital as an hourly cafeteria worker. (Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶¶ 1, 4; Def.'s Ex. A at 9:11-24, ECF No. 20-4.) On June 26, 2014, Plaintiff Nguyen was injured at work when he tripped over an electrical wire routed from three warming tables. (Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 4; Def.'s Ex. A at 37:11-38:16.) At the time of his injury, Plaintiff Nguyen was not aware of the contract between Morrison and the Hospital. (Def.'s 56.1 Statement ¶ 3.)

         Morrison did not own the food service equipment, including the warming tables that allegedly caused Plaintiff Nguyen's trip and fall. (Id. ¶ 12.) Morrison could not move the warming tables, as such removal would have required the Hospital's engineers to relocate the electrical panels, which Morrison lacked authority or ability to do. (Id. ¶ 13.) As such, it fell to the Hospital to remove the warming tables. (Id. ¶ 14.)

         STANDARD ...

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