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Buhrman v. Courtyard By Marriott, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware

April 3, 2019

MARGARET BUHRMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT, INC., SECURITAS SECURITY SERVICES USA, INC., 1102 WEST STREET, LP, CENTRAL PARKING, LLC, COURTYARD MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, SP PLUS CORPORATION, and STANDARD PARKING CORPORATION, Defendants.

          Submitted: January 22, 2019

          On Defendants Courtyard by Marriott, Inc., 1102 West Street, LP, and Courtyard Management Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgment

         On Defendant Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment Against Co-Defendant/Cross-Claimants' Courtyard by Marriott, Inc., 1102 West Street, LP, and Courtyard Management Corporation

          Paul D. Sunshine, Esq., (Argued), Reger, Rizzo, & Darnall, LLP, Attorneys for Courtyard by Marriott, Inc., 1102 West Street, LP, and Courtyard Management Corporation

          Eileen M. Ford, Esq., (Argued), Marks, O'Neill, O'Brien, Doherty, & Kelly, P.C., Attorneys for Defendant Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.

          OPINION

          THE HONORABLE MARY M. JOHNSTON

         PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL CONTEXT

         Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants following a robbery that occurred on June 8, 2014. Plaintiffs claims against Defendants have been resolved. What remains is an indemnification action between the two groups of Defendants: Courtyard by Marriott, Inc., 1102 West Street, LP, and Courtyard Management Corporation (collectively "Marriott"); and Securitas Security Services USA, Inc. ("Securitas").

         The Security Guard Services Agreement (the "Agreement") between Marriott and Securitas outlines the parties' obligations. A document titled Post Instructions provides instructions to the Securitas security officer assigned to Marriott.

         Marriott's Motion for Summary Judgment alleges that Securitas breached the Agreement by failing to procure Commercial General Liability Insurance, for the protection of Marriott, in the amount of one million dollars. The Securitas insurance was to be primary and non-contributing with respect to any insurance purchased or maintained by Marriott International, Inc. and any Marriott affiliates.[1] Securitas obtained a two-million dollar policy, containing a $500, 000 self-insured retention ("SIR").

         Marriott argues that in addition to Securitas' obligation to procure a one-million-dollar insurance policy, Securitas had a separate obligation to "indemnify, defend, and hold harmless."[2] Securitas agreed to defend and indemnify Marriott against all claims and losses arising out of any "negligent act or omission or willful misconduct" on the part of Securitas in the performance of its obligations under the Agreement.[3] The indemnification obligation extends to "[a]negations regarding Marriott's hiring, retention or supervision of Securitas's, its employees, or its Services provided hereunder except to the extent caused by the willful misconduct of Marriott."[4] Securitas declined to defend or indemnify Marriott.

         Securitas' Motion for Summary Judgment argues that although there is a duty to defend and indemnify for Securitas' acts under the Agreement, there is no duty to defend or indemnify for Marriott's own negligence. Further, Securitas claims that the duty to procure the required insurance is not material because the duty was never triggered. Securitas argues that Marriott's own expert testified that Securitas was not negligent.

         SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is granted only if the moving party establishes that there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and judgment may be granted as a matter of law.[5] All facts are viewed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party.[6] Summary judgment may not be granted if the record indicates that a material fact is in dispute, or if there is a need to clarify the application of law to the specific circumstances.[7] When the facts permit a reasonable person to draw only one inference, the question becomes one for decision as a matter of law.[8] If the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial, yet "fails to ...


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