Segal McCambridge Team Wins Summary Judgment in Ohio Breach of Contract, Bailment and Tort Case


April 1, 2014

Segal McCambridge attorneys Kerry Rhoads-Reith and Misty Martin obtained summary judgment for Whiskey Island Partners, a large marina, in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Cleveland, Ohio. Plaintiff claimed the marina was negligent and in breach of contract when it failed to protect his boat and pull it for winter storage prior to Superstorm Sandy hitting in October of 2012. After completing discovery, Segal McCambridge filed for summary judgment seeking complete dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims. 

In a twelve page opinion, the court agreed with Segal McCambridge ’s arguments. The court dismissed the negligence claim finding, as a matter of law, the marina had no duty to the plaintiff other than what was contained in the contract between the parties. The court then dismissed the breach of contract claim based on the exculpatory clause, which protected the marina from liability from “Acts of God." The court noted that a contractual provision that exempts a party from liability from negligence (an exculpatory clause) will be enforced where the contracting parties stand in roughly equal bargaining positions. Here, there was evidence that plaintiff had docked his boat with other marinas and was free to do so had he not liked the terms of the Whiskey Island contract. Thus, the court found that Whiskey Island Partners was not in a superior bargaining position over the plaintiff, and there was no reason why the exculpatory clause should not be enforced. The court then granted summary judgment and dismissed the entire complaint. The court also dismissed the related subrogation claim for similar reasons.