Hartford Fire Insurance Company v. Ninja Jump, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Chief Judge Catherine C. Blake on 5/30/2017. (jnls, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE
COMPANY, as subrogee of Mary M. Martin
NINJA JUMP, INC., et al.
Civil No. CCB-17-0183
In 2016, a building in Maryland owned by Mary M. Martin (“Martin”) suffered fire
damage. Hartford Fire Insurance Company (“Hartford Fire”), which insured the building,
compensated Martin for her losses and then initiated the present subrogation action against two
defendants: Jumpy Bounce, LLC (“Jumpy Bounce”), which leased the building from Martin, and
Ninja Jump, Inc. (“Ninja Jump”), which provided equipment to Jumpy Bounce. After Hartford
Fire filed suit, Ninja Jump filed a crossclaim against Jumpy Bounce, claiming it is entitled to
indemnification or, in the alternative, contribution. Now pending are two motions filed by Jumpy
Bounce. First, Jumpy Bounce has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary
judgment with respect to Hartford Fire’s claim against it; according to Jumpy Bounce, that
subrogation claim is precluded by the terms of the lease it negotiated with Martin. Second,
Jumpy Bounce has moved to dismiss Ninja Jump’s crossclaim. No oral argument is necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant both of
Jumpy Bounce’s motions to dismiss, with prejudice.
According to Hartford Fire’s complaint, Martin owns a building at 98 Industry Lane,
Forest Hill, Maryland. (Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 1). Martin leased the building to Jumpy Bounce,
which used the building for an entertainment complex open to the public. (Id. ¶¶ 7–8). Jumpy
Bounce purchased inflatable slides and obstacle courses from defendant Ninja Jump for use in
the entertainment complex. (Id. ¶ 9). On September 9, 2016, a blower motor that Ninja Jump had
sold to Jumpy Bounce for use with a particular slide and obstacle course caught fire, causing
damage to the building. (Id. ¶¶ 10–12, 14). Hartford Fire, which insured both Martin and the
building, paid Martin $630,915.53 to compensate for the damage. (Id. ¶ 17). Hartford Fire now
brings a subrogation claim against Jumpy Bounce and Ninja Jump to recoup its losses caused by
the fire and ensuing insurance claim. (Id. ¶¶ 16, 18).1
A. Jumpy Bounce
Hartford Fire claims Jumpy Bounce owed Martin a duty to exercise reasonable care while
leasing the building and breached that duty by, inter alia, failing to periodically clean and service
the blower motor, which Hartford Fire claims caused the fire damage. (Id. ¶¶ 19–23). Jumpy
Bounce claims the lease precludes Hartford Fire from pursuing such a negligence claim, because
the lease provides that Martin’s insurance policy would be the sole source of funds to address the
losses at issue here. (Mot. to Dismiss Compl. Mem. Law 1–2, ECF No. 14-1). The dispute
between Hartford Fire and Jumpy Bounce thus centers on the specific terms of the lease.
The doctrine of subrogation “is a legal fiction whereby an obligation extinguished by a payment made by a third
person is treated as still subsisting for the benefit of this third person.” Bachmann v. Glazer & Glazer, Inc., 316 Md.
405, 412 (1989). The doctrine is “founded upon the equitable powers of the court,” and its rationale is “to prevent
the party primarily liable on the debt from being unjustly enriched when someone pays his debt.” Id. “Ordinarily, in
the insurance context, pursuant to a contract, the subrogee insurer is subrogated to the insured, against a party who
has caused the insured's loss and for which the insurer has compensated its insured.” Poteet v. Sauter, 136 Md. App.
383, 401–02 (2001).
The lease contains several provisions related to property insurance in general and fire
insurance in particular. With respect to property insurance, the lease required Jumpy Bounce to
pay, in addition to a base rental amount, a “triple net rate” consisting of a “proportionate share of
the Property’s annual expenses for real estate taxes, Landlord’s property insurance and common
area maintenance expenses.” (Mot. to Dismiss Compl. Mem. Law, Ex. 2, Lease Agreement 4–5,
ECF No. 14-2). With respect to property insurance, the original lease2 estimated that Jumpy
Bounce would pay nine cents per square foot of rented space each year to cover Martin’s annual
property insurance expenses. (Id.).3 The lease also provides for a “reconciliation” of the “triple
net rate” expenses each year after July 1. Pursuant to this reconciliation process, the “triple net
rate” is adjusted annually to ensure it aligns with actual expenses. If the payments from Jumpy
Bounce fail to cover its share of the “triple net rate” expenses, the lease mandates payment of the
balance within 30 days. Similarly, if Jumpy Bounce overpaid, the lease mandates that this
balance is “carried forward and included in the calculation of the adjusted Triple net rate.” (Id.).
With respect to fire insurance, the lease separately states, “Fire Insurance. The Tenant
agrees to do nothing to contravene the policy or policies of fire insurance by the Landlord on
said property or to cause any increase in the rates of fire insurance for said Premises or property;
in the event . . . an increase in the rates of fire insurance is caused by an act on the part of the
Tenant, then said increase in the fire insurance premium shall be paid by the said Tenant
The lease was amended twice. The first amendment, dated October 31, 2013, reiterated that Jumpy Bounce “shall
be responsible to pay a proportionate share of the Property’s annual expenses for real estate taxes, Landlord’s
property insurance and common area maintenance expenses.” With respect to property insurance, it estimated that
Jumpy Bounce would pay eight cents per square foot. (Lease Agreement 34). The second amendment, dated May
25, 2016, reiterated that same language and did not alter the overall “triple net rate” of additional rent owed by
Jumpy Bounce that was outlined in the first amendment. (Id. 36). Under both amendments, this additional rental
amounted to $877.34.
Elsewhere, the lease also reiterates that Jumpy Bounce “is to reimburse [Martin] . . . for its prorated share of the
annual expenses for [Martin’s] property insurance cost.” (Id. 18).
promptly on demand by the Landlord and the Tenant agrees to pay said additional premium as
rent during each year of this Lease.” (Id. 10).
The lease also contains a section on abatement of rent in case of fire damage. First, that
section states that, “[s]hould the Premises be damaged by fire . . . but not to such an extent as to
render the same untenantable, the Landlord shall restore the Premises within seventy-five (75)
days and there shall be no abatement of rent.” (Id. 18). Second, the section states that should the
premises become “partially damaged” by fire such that they are “untenantable,” the landlord
“shall restore said Premises as promptly as possible and the rent shall abate proportionately to
the untenantability of said Premises until the Premises are made fit for occupancy.” (Id.). Finally,
the lease states that, should the premises become “entirely untenantable” due to fire damage, the
lease “shall thereupon become null and void and all liability of the Tenant shall terminate upon
payment of all rent due and payable to the date of such damage.” (Id.).4
Jumpy Bounce filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative,
for summary judgment, with respect to Hartford Fire’s negligence claim. According to Jumpy
Bounce, the lease terms detailed above preclude the subrogation action. (Mot. to Dismiss
Compl., ECF No. 14). Hartford Fire responded, (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Compl., ECF
No. 15), and Jumpy Bounce replied, (Reply, Mot. to Dismiss Compl., ECF No. 17).
B. Ninja Jump
Hartford Fire also brings three claims against Ninja Jump. First, it claims a defect in the
motor caused the fire and resulting losses and that Ninja Jump is liable, because Ninja Jump
“designed, manufactured, assembled, and/or distributed the blower motor.” (Compl. ¶¶ 24–29). It
Although not mentioned by Jumpy Bounce, the lease also states, “This agreement contains the full and final and
exclusive agreement among the parties with respect to the subject matter herein. There are not other oral agreements
or representations between the parties that are not incorporated herein.” (Id. 26).
also claims Ninja Jump is liable for breach of warranty and failure to exercise reasonable care
with respect to the design, manufacture, assembly, and distribution of the blower motor. (Id. ¶¶
30–37). Ninja Jump has filed an Answer, which includes a variety of affirmative defenses. (Ninja
Jump Answer, ECF No. 6). Ninja Jump also has filed a crossclaim against Jumpy Bounce,
claiming it is entitled to indemnification from Jumpy Bounce. Alternatively, if Ninja Jump is
determined to be liable, it claims that Jumpy Bounce was also negligent and must contribute to
any damages awarded to Hartford Fire. (Crossclaim ¶¶ 6–11, ECF No. 16). Jumpy Bounce has
moved to dismiss Ninja Jump’s crossclaim, (Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim, ECF No. 18), Ninja
Jump responded, (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim, ECF No. 21), and Jumpy
Bounce replied, (Reply, Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim, ECF No. 22).
When ruling on a motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the court must “accept the wellpled allegations of the complaint as true,” and “construe the facts and reasonable inferences
derived therefrom in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d
472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). “Even though the requirements for pleading a proper complaint are
substantially aimed at assuring that the defendant be given adequate notice of the nature of a
claim being made against him, they also provide criteria for defining issues for trial and for early
disposition of inappropriate complaints.” Francis v. Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir.
2009). “The mere recital of elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory
statements, is not sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).” Walters v.
McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009)). To survive a motion to dismiss, the factual allegations of a complaint “must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
555 (2007) (internal citations omitted). “To satisfy this standard, a plaintiff need not ‘forecast’
evidence sufficient to prove the elements of the claim. However, the complaint must allege
sufficient facts to establish those elements.” Walters, 684 F.3d at 439 (citation omitted). “Thus,
while a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate in a complaint that the right to relief is ‘probable,’
the complaint must advance the plaintiff’s claim ‘across the line from conceivable to plausible.’”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court may
consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss in some instances. See, e.g., Goines v. Valley
Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 166 (4th Cir. 2016).
A. Jumpy Bounce
Jumpy Bounce has filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment,
claiming that the lease between Jumpy Bounce and Martin precludes recovery here by Martin or
her subrogee. The lease precludes recovery, Jumpy Bounce claims, because, “Jumpy Bounce and
[Martin] agreed that [Martin’s] insurance policy would be the sole source of funds to address
such losses as those at issue.” (Reply, Mot. to Dismiss Compl. 1–2). In response, Hartford Fire
claims the motion must be treated as one for summary judgment, because Jumpy Bounce “has
introduced extrinsic evidence – the lease – which Plaintiff neither pled nor attached to the
complaint.” (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Compl. Mem. Law 5, ECF No. 15-2). A
summary judgment ruling would be premature, Hartford Fire continues, because “the parties’
reasonable expectations cannot be divined from the face of the lease,” so Hartford Fire “must
have the leeway to take discovery on the question of what the parties’ expectations were when
they entered the lease.” (Id. 6). Hartford Fire suggests it will seek to depose Jumpy Bounce’s
agents or employees. (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot to Dismiss Compl., Ex. 4, Certification of
Christopher Konzelmann 2, ECF No. 15-4).
The first issue is whether the court should consider the lease – which Jumpy Bounce
attached to its motion to dismiss – even though it was not attached to Hartford Fire’s complaint.
As a general matter, when a defendant appends extraneous materials to a motion to dismiss for
failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, the court may either accept
and rely on the extraneous materials – and thus convert the motion into one for summary
judgment – or not consider the materials and rule on the 12(b)(6) motion. See, e.g., Sager v.
Hous. Comm’n, 855 F. Supp. 2d 524, 542 (D. Md. 2012). However, a limited exception applies,
under which a court may consider an extraneous document attached to a motion to dismiss
without converting the motion to one for summary judgment if the document “was integral to the
complaint and there is no dispute about the document’s authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166;
see Am. Chiropractic Ass’n v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir. 2004) (court
may consider document attached to motion to dismiss if the document “was integral to and
explicitly relied on in the complaint and [if] the plaintiffs do not challenge its authenticity”)
(quoting Phillips v. LCI Int’l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618 (4th Cir. 1999)). “The rationale underlying
this exception is that the primary problem raised by looking to documents outside the complaint
– lack of notice to the plaintiff – is dissipated where plaintiff has actual notice . . . and has relied
upon these documents in framing the complaint.” Am. Chiropractic, 367 F.3d at 234 (internal
quotation marks and bracket omitted) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114
F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir. 1997)). An “integral” document is one that by its “very existence, and
not the mere information it contains, gives rise to the legal rights asserted.” Chesapeake Bay
Found., Inc. v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F. Supp. 2d 602, 611 (D. Md. 2011) (citation
omitted) (emphasis in original); see also Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (suggesting an attached
document may be “integral” if the plaintiff’s claims “turn on” or are “otherwise based on” the
contents of that document). A document is not necessarily “integral” just because it is referenced
or quoted in the complaint. See Goines, 822 F.3d at 166.
Here, Hartford Fire has not disputed the authenticity of the lease attached to Jumpy
Bounce’s motion to dismiss. Hartford Fire also had notice of the lease, as evidenced by the fact
that Hartford Fire referenced the lease (and its amendments) in its complaint several times. (See
Compl. ¶¶ 7, 20–21). Finally, the lease is “integral” to the complaint: the lease creates the
landlord–tenant relationship at the center of this claim, which in turn allegedly gives rise to a
duty of care and liability for negligently caused damages. As Hartford Fire states in its
complaint, Jumpy Bounce “owed a duty to exercise due and reasonable care while leasing the
building.” (Compl. ¶ 21). Put differently, the “very existence” of the lease gives rise to the legal
rights asserted against Jumpy Bounce, and it is “integral” for that reason. See Bourgeois v. Live
Nation Entm’t, Inc., 3 F. Supp. 3d 423, 436 (D. Md. 2014), as corrected (Mar. 20, 2014)
(documents setting out contractual relationship between plaintiff and defendants are “integral” to
complaint alleging defendant engaged in fraud and/or misrepresentation with respect to ticket
sales occurring under terms of that contract); see also Pawtucket Mut. Ins. Co. v. Oriental Station
Rest., Inc., 2007 WL 791324, at *1 n.1 (D. Vt. Mar. 14, 2007) (lease is “integral” to complaint in
subrogation action brought by insurance company alleging negligence and breach of contract).
Accordingly, the court will consider the lease at the 12(b)(6) stage.
With respect to the merits, the court applies the Maryland Court of Appeals decision in
Rausch v. Allstate Ins. Co., 388 Md. 690 (2005), when determining whether to grant the motion
to dismiss. In Rausch, the Court of Appeals endorsed a “case-by-case” approach for determining
whether a tenant is liable to a landlord’s insurer in a subrogation action. Under this approach,
liability is determined by the reasonable expectations of the parties to the lease. In particular, a
subrogation claim is allowed “if it was reasonably anticipated by the landlord and the tenant that
the tenant would be liable, in the event of a fire loss paid by the landlord’s insurer, to a
subrogation claim by the insurer.” Id. at 717.
The key question raised by this dispute is how the court should determine the reasonable
expectations of the parties to the lease and, in particular, whether the court should allow the
parties to engage in discovery before determining those expectations. Jumpy Bounce urges the
court to focus exclusively on the lease; extrinsic evidence is irrelevant, it claims, unless the court
first concludes the meaning of a relevant part of the lease is ambiguous. Because Hartford Fire
has not identified ambiguities, discovery is irrelevant, and the court must decide reasonable
expectations based solely on the lease, it claims. (Reply, Mot. to Dismiss Compl. 4–8). Hartford
Fire, by contrast, claims it “must have the leeway to take discovery on the question of what the
parties’ expectations were when they entered the lease,” because those expectations “cannot be
divined from the face of the lease.” (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Compl. 5–6).
In Rausch, the Court of Appeals made clear that evidence outside the four corners of the
lease may be relevant in some cases. Most generally, it clarified that a tenant’s liability to the
landlord’s insurer depends on the reasonable expectations of the parties to the lease, “as
determined from the lease itself and any other admissible evidence.” Rausch, 388 Md. at 713. On
the other hand, the Court of Appeals also outlined four principles that “control” the case-by-case
analysis, and these principles suggest that, in some cases, a subrogation claim may be precluded
by the lease terms. For instance, the second principle states that, if a lease relieves a tenant of
liability for fire loss, “there can be no subrogation claim against the tenant.” Id. at 716.
Especially relevant here, the third principle states that, absent some “compelling provision to the
contrary,” a court “may properly conclude” that a subrogation claim is precluded “[i]f, under the
lease or by some other commitment, the landlord has communicated to the tenant an express or
implied agreement to maintain fire insurance on the leased premises.” Id. at 716.
Based on the lease terms, the court concludes Martin communicated to Jumpy Bounce an
“implied agreement” to maintain fire insurance on the leased premises. Most significantly, the
lease required Jumpy Bounce to pay its “proportionate share” of the leased property’s annual
expenses for “Landlord’s property insurance” and included detailed provisions estimating
payments and explaining how overpayments or underpayments would be handled. Although the
lease does not explicitly state that such property insurance would cover loss due to fire, general
property insurance coverage anticipates fire coverage in particular. See id. at 695–96 (lease
provision prohibiting tenants from doing anything that would contravene “any hazard insurance
policy” in force or which would increase such a policy’s premium “anticipated that the owner
would likely have a fire insurance policy of his own in force”). And the fact that the lease
requires Jumpy Bounce to pay its share of the landlord’s property insurance premiums suggests
the insurance procured by Martin is for its benefit too and would relieve Jumpy Bounce of the
responsibility to pay for damages caused by its own negligence. Compare Travelers Indem. Co.
of Am. v. Deguise, 180 Vt. 214, 217 (2006) (provision stating only that tenant “shall not
undertake . . . any hazardous acts or do anything that will increase the development’s insurance
premiums” would not lead tenants “to expect that the presence of insurance would relieve them
of their responsibility to pay for damages caused by their negligence”), with Underwriters of
Lloyds of London v. Cape Publ’ns, Inc., 63 So. 3d 892, 896 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2011)
(precluding subrogation action because lease provided building owner would secure property and
casualty insurance policy, which covered fire damage, and tenant’s rent included a pro rata share
of the insurance premium).
The fire insurance lease provisions are also consistent with the conclusion that the lease
communicates an implied commitment from Martin to maintain fire insurance. Under the fire
insurance section of the lease, Jumpy Bounce agreed “to do nothing to contravene the policy or
policies of fire insurance by the Landlord” or to increase those fire insurance policy rates –
suggesting the landlord would maintain fire insurance in particular.5 Similarly, the fire insurance
section also provides that Jumpy Bounce would be required to pay any increase in the fire
insurance premium for which it was responsible, which anticipates that Martin will maintain fire
insurance in the first place. See U.S. Fire Ins. Co. v. Phil-Mar Corp., 166 Ohio St. 85, 88–89
(1956) (denying subrogation claim partly because lease provided that tenant would pay increases
in landlord’s fire insurance premiums due to tenant’s activities and suggesting this provision, in
context, “contemplated that the lessor would carry insurance on the property and look to the
insurance for compensation for any loss by fire”). Other provisions of the lease further support
the conclusion that the lease communicates an implied agreement by Martin to maintain fire
insurance. For instance, the lease appears to exclude Jumpy Bounce from liability in the event of
Hartford Fire does not really contest this point: it concedes that the lease “indicates that Plaintiff’s subrogor will
obtain fire insurance on the property.” (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Compl. 6).
severe fire damage. (See Lease Agreement 18). Finally, Hartford Fire does not appear to dispute
that Martin did, in fact, procure insurance that covered fire damage, (see compl. ¶¶ 15–18),
which further supports the court’s conclusion. Cf. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Auto-Owners Ins.
Co., 757 N.W.2d 584, 594 (S.D. 2008) (“The fact that the tenants purchased an insurance policy
that provided fire coverage indicates that they reasonably anticipated that they could be liable for
any loss resulting from a fire.”).
Accordingly, the court will grant the motion to dismiss filed by Jumpy Bounce.
B. Ninja Jump
Jumpy Bounce also has moved to dismiss Ninja Jump’s crossclaim under Rule 12(b)(6).
According to Jumpy Bounce, the fact that Hartford Fire’s subrogation claim is precluded means
that Ninja Jump’s crossclaims against Jumpy Bounce for contribution and common law
indemnification fail as a matter of law. (Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim Mem. Law 5, ECF No. 181). Jumpy Bounce also claims that the common law indemnification claim fails, because, if Ninja
Jump were liable, it could only be liable as an “active tortfeasor.” (Id. 10–11).
Regarding contribution, the Maryland Uniform Contribution Among Joint Tort-Feasors
Act (“UCATA”) provides for a “right of contribution . . . among joint tort-feasors,” where “joint
tort-feasors” means “two or more persons jointly or severally liable in tort for the same injury to
person or property.” Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-1401, 3-1402. A “joint tort-feasor”
must be “legally responsible to the plaintiff for his or her injuries,” because “contribution under
the UCATA . . . is predicated on a wrongdoer’s direct liability to the plaintiff.” Montgomery
Cnty. v. Valk Mfg. Co., 317 Md. 185, 199–200 (1989). For instance, no claim to contribution
exists where an alleged “joint tort-feasor” cannot be held liable in the underlying suit due to
certain immunities or the defense of contributory negligence. See id. at 192–95, 199. One
exception to this general rule relates to the statute of limitations defense. Maryland courts “have
drawn a deliberate distinction between defenses based on immunities and statutes of limitation,”
such that an alleged “joint tort-feasor” is subject to a contribution claim if direct liability to the
plaintiff is only barred by a statute of limitations defense. Kelly v. Full Wood Foods, Inc., 111 F.
Supp. 2d 712, 715 (D. Md. 2000) (citing Jacobs v. Flynn, 131 Md. App. 342, 374 (2000)). The
Court of Appeals has suggested that the statute of limitations defense is distinct, because that
defense does not “arise out of the wrongdoing itself” but rather “depends on litigation procedures
transpiring after the wrongdoing has occurred.” Id. (quoting Valk, 317 Md. at 198 n.16).
Here, the lease negotiated by Martin and Jumpy Bounce precludes Hartford Fire’s
subrogation claim against Jumpy Bounce. Liability never arose in the first instance, because
Jumpy Bounce and Martin agreed that Martin would not hold Jumpy Bounce liable in the event
of negligently caused fire damage. Because Hartford Fire has no right of action against Jumpy
Bounce, Ninja Jump’s contribution claim against Jumpy Bounce is necessarily precluded.6
With respect to indemnity, Ninja Jump claims it is entitled to “Common Law Indemnity.”
(Crossclaim 2). Although not expressly stated in its crossclaim, Ninja Jump appears to seek
indemnity on a tort-based theory of implied indemnification: it does not allege an express or
implied contractual indemnification, and its crossclaim alleges Ninja Jump is entitled to
indemnity, because Hartford Fire’s damages were caused by Jumpy Bounce’s negligence. (Id.).
Jumpy Bounce also interprets Ninja Jump’s claim as one of implied tort indemnity, and Ninja
Citing no case law, Ninja Jump urges the court to craft a new exception to the general rule that a contribution claim
fails unless the party from whom contribution is sought is legally liable to the plaintiff in the underlying suit. In its
view, Ninja Jump’s right to contribution should not be extinguished by “a defense to liability established in a private
contract between the plaintiff and a joint tortfeasor.” (Resp. in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim 3–4). The court
sees no basis in Maryland law to create such an exception and declines to do so here.
Jump did not dispel this view in its opposition to Jumpy Bounce’s motion to dismiss. (See Resp.
in Opp’n to Mot. to Dismiss Crossclaim 4–5). A claim of common law tort indemnification fails
if the party from which a third-party plaintiff seeks indemnification is not liable to the plaintiff in
the underlying suit. Erson v. Int’l Special Attractions, Ltd., 2014 WL 3055554, at *7 (D. Md.
July 1, 2014) (quoting Heritage Harbour, LLC v. John J. Reynolds, Inc., 143 Md. App. 698, 706
(2002);7 see also Int’l Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Marsh & McLennan, Inc., 838 F.2d 124, 127 (4th
Cir. 1988) (a tort-based right to indemnification exists “when there is a great disparity in the fault
of two tortfeasors, and one tortfeasor has paid for a loss that was primarily the responsibility of
the other.”) (quoting Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Yemen v. Goodpasture, Inc., 782 F.2d
346, 351 (2d Cir. 1986)). As discussed, Jumpy Bounce is not liable to Hartford Fire.
Accordingly, Ninja Jump cannot prevail on its indemnification claim, and the court will grant
Jumpy Bounce’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
For the aforementioned reasons, the court will grant Jumpy Bounce’s motion to dismiss
Hartford Fire’s claims against it, with prejudice. The court also will grant Jumpy Bounce’s
motion to dismiss Ninja Jump’s crossclaim for common law indemnity and contribution, with
prejudice. A separate order follows.
May 30, 2017
Catherine C. Blake
United States District Judge
Unpublished cases are cited only for the soundness of their reasoning, not for any precedential value.
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