JOHN R. BROWN, Circuit Judge.
As this case comes to us, it is within a very narrow frame. Essentially it is the simple and oft-recurring problem: does the indemnity agreement involved require the Indemnitor to save harmless the Indemnitee against the consequences of the Indemnitee's negligence?
There is nothing unique about the facts in this case. Indeed, concentrating entirely on the construction of the indemnity agreement itself, the Indemnitee does not here question the use of Summary Judgment. On this record, in this context, it means that the injuries at the bottom of this controversy were occasioned by the negligence of the Indemnitee, with neither claim nor proof that Indemnitor had any tortious responsibility therefor.
The setting, too, was a normal everyday affair. The Indemnitee was a general contractor for construction of an Alabama hospital. Indemnitor was the subcontractor whose contract
Equally uncontroversial is the law to be applied. Indemnitee and Indemnitor, in briefs which reflect the consummate skill of articulate craftsmen in exhaustive research that leaves naught for independent probing by us, are at one on what the law is, not only generally, but in Alabama and in the Fifth Circuit as well. Their unity is such that it is not even the situation in which one claims and the other denies that "an exception" to the general rule exists, or in which one affirms, the other refutes, that one or more specific precedents represent a departure from the straight and narrow path. They are thus in complete agreement that the problem inexorably begins and ends as one of construction of the specific contractual terms, and that in this process it is the law which steps in and tells the parties that while it need not be done in any particular language or form, unless the intention is unequivocally expressed in the plainest of words, the law will consider that the parties did not undertake to indemnify one against the consequences of his own negligence.
Since the contract confessedly does not contain the talismanic words "even though caused, occasioned or contributed to by the negligence, sole or concurrent" of the Indemnitee, or like expressions, the Indemnitee seeks to find the equivalent clear intent in other language of the agreement. Specifically, it contends that when indemnity Clause 7 of the contract
But we do not think that these arguments are persuasive, nor do we believe that the matter can or ought to be resolved by matching this or that case against language which, by the very nature of things, varies as scriveners set out to draft these instruments or businessmen uncritically put their signatures on printed traditional forms. The problem, as we said before, begins and ends as one of construction in the light of general principles that are now so well rooted that the business world must reckon with them.
The phrase stressed heavily is indeed broad. But the broad, all-inclusiveness of language used is itself one of the indicia which the law regards as insufficient. The purpose to impose this extraordinary liability on the Indemnitor must be spelled out in unmistakable terms. It cannot come from reading into the general words used the fullest meaning which lexicography would permit. In the atmosphere which the general principles reflect, the phrase is really but a means of defining the scope of the indemnity, that is, the area in which it is applicable, not the legal reach of it once it applies. In this respect it served a useful function in broadening the physical and actual situations which might be covered. It was not limited to losses resulting out of the performance of the work which might have required the actual doing of something directly related to subcontractor's undertaking. To these situations were added those "arising out of" such performance. And then to both was added situations which involved neither but which, in a realistic sense, could properly be said to have been "sustained in connection with" such work. It was really directed toward the problem dealt with in Employers' Casualty Co. v. Howard P. Foley Co., 5 Cir., 158 F.2d 363, and others like it.
While the language is well adapted to defining the areas of the application, it is not peculiarly apt to define causes either in terms of physical or legal responsibility. An injurious incident could arise out of, or result from, or be sustained, in connection with the performance of the work whether the real or legal cause was that of the Indemnitor, the Indemnitee, or both, or, equally likely, unrelated third parties. And to these questions as to what parties brought about the incident, there would have to be added inquiry whether any of those actually responsible for it were so in law. If it could cover any one or all of the three actual possibilities and any one or more or all of the legal possibilities,
The construction of this contract by the District Court was consistent with the applicable principles. It was right.
Presumably the copyright monopoly was intended to keep Clause 7, note 4, infra, from being copied.
This includes, of course, those of our decisions in which the contract was construed to cover the Indemnitee's negligence: Thomas v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 5 Cir., 201 F.2d 167; Alabama Great Southern R. Co. v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 5 Cir., 224 F.2d 1, 50 A.L.R. 2d 1302.
To these may be added many others collated by the parties here both on the general proposition: Wallace v. United States, D.C.Wash., 16 F.2d 309, affirmed, 9 Cir., 18 F.2d 20; Mostyn v. Delaware, L. & W. R. Co., 2 Cir., 160 F.2d 15; Chicago & N. W. Ry. Co. v. Chicago Packaged Fuel Company, 7 Cir., 195 F.2d 467; Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corp. v. Jansen, 8 Cir., 203 F.2d 682; Turner Construction Co. v. W. J. Halloran Steel Erection Co., 1 Cir., 240 F.2d 441; 27 Am.Jur., Indemnity, § 15, p. 464; Pocket Parts, 27 Am Jur., Indemnity, § 15, p. 142; 42 C.J.S., Indemnity § 12, p. 580; 38 A.L.R. 580; Perry v. Payne, 217 Pa. 252, 66 A. 553, 11 L.R.A.,N.S., 1173; 175 A.L.R. at pages 29, 30, 144; 143 A.L.R. 316; as well as those cases in which the contract was construed to cover indemnitee's negligence: Indemnity Ins. Co. of North America v. Koontz-Wagner Electric Co., 7 Cir., 233 F.2d 380; Aluminum Co. of America v. Hally, 8 Cir., 200 F.2d 257; Govero v. Standard Oil Co., 8 Cir., 192 F.2d 962.