United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE
THIRD PARTY COMPLAINT [DOC. 31]
CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Powerscreen International Distribution Ltd. manufactured a
Powerscreen Warrior 1800 Screener (the "Screen")
and distributed it to Defendant Powerscreen USA, LLC a
product seller and distributor in the United States, who in
turn sent the screen to Powerscreen Connecticut, LLC in
Connecticut. Doc. 1 at 1. Powerscreen Connecticut, LLC
employed Plaintiff Graham Wylie. Id. On March 24,
2014, while demonstrating the product to a customer,
Plaintiff fell off the end of the platform of the product and
broke his spine. Id. at 4-5 ¶¶ 9-22.
Plaintiff alleges that the Screen was defectively designed
and manufactured with insufficient warnings. Id. at
6 ¶ 27.
filed the instant action on March 22, 2016. Doc. 1. Plaintiff
brings two Connecticut products liability claims in this
action: (1) a claim pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §
52-572m et seq. against manufacturer Powerscreen
International Distribution Ltd., and (2) a claim pursuant to
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-572m et seq. against
Powerscreen USA, LLC as seller of the product. Id.
at 6 ¶ 23. Plaintiff's Complaint recites that he
cannot directly sue his employer, Powerscreen Connecticut,
LLC by statute. Id. at 4 ¶ 8. Plaintiff seeks
monetary damages, costs associated with the litigation and
any other remedies deemed appropriate by this Court.
Id. at 14.
Court has jurisdiction over this action solely based on the
diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendants
filed an Amended Answer to Plaintiff's Complaint on June
7, 2016. Docs. 21-22. The Court entered a Scheduling Order on
June 13, 2016 with the deadline for the completion of fact
discovery on or before April 28, 2017. Doc. 26.
December 21, 2016, Defendants filed the instant motion
("Motion") for leave to file a third party
complaint against Plaintiff's employer, Powerscreen
Connecticut, LLC asserting "a contractual right of
indemnity that the Defendants possess against Powerscreen
Connecticut, which requires Powerscreen Connecticut to
defend, indemnify, and hold the Defendants harmless for
Plaintiff's claim" in this action. Doc. 31 at 1.
Defendants have attached its proposed third party complaint
as Exhibit A to its motion and filed a Memorandum of Law
("Defs. Br.") in support of their motion. Doc. 31.
The contractual indemnity comes from the "Terms and
Conditions on Invoice PS1-005132 and the Machine Sales Order
and Confirmation issued by Powerscreen USA" related to
the Screen. Doc. 31, Ex. A ¶ 11.
support of their motion, Defendants argue that allowing leave
to serve the third party complaint supports judicial economy
by saving Defendants from filing an entirely separate action.
Defs. Br. at 3. Defendants assert that their claim will not
in any way prejudice Plaintiff or impact his damages and that
the claim will not unduly complicate the case or delay the
trial because it is a "simple contractual claim"
and the case is "still in the early stages of
discovery." Id. Defendants also argue that the
claim is not "obviously unmeritorious" as it is
based on "clear, express contractual language providing
them with a right of defense and indemnity."
did not respond or object to Defendant's motion for leave
to file the third party complaint. The time to file such a
response has expired. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R.
7(a)(2) (“Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, all
opposition memoranda shall be filed within twenty-one (21)
days of the filing of the motion."). The Motion is ripe
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a)(1) provides that "[a]
defending party may, as third-party plaintiff, serve a
summons and complaint on a nonparty who is or may be liable
to it for all or part of the claim against it." Rule
14(a) "promote[s] judicial economy by eliminating the
need for a defendant to bring a separate action against a
third-party who may be secondarily or derivatively liable to
the defendant for all or part of the plaintiff's
claim." Hines v. Citibank, N.A., No. 96-2565,
1999 WL 440616, *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 28, 1999) (citing Gross
v. Hanover Ins. Co., 138 F.R.D. 53, 54 (S.D.N.Y. 1991));
see also Rodolico v. Unisys Corp., 189 F.R.D. 245,
249 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). Nonetheless, "the right to implead
third parties is not automatic." Consol. Rail Corp.
v. Metz, 115 F.R.D. 216, 218 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (citing
Oliner v. McBride's Indus., Inc., 106 F.R.D. 14,
20 (S.D.N.Y. 1985)).
decision whether to permit a defendant to implead a
third-party defendant rests in the trial court's
discretion." Kenneth Leventhal & Co. v. Joyner
Wholesale Co., 736 F.2d 29, 31 (2d Cir. 1984) (per
curiam) (citing Laffey v. Nw. Airlines, Inc., 567
F.2d 429, 477 (D.C. Cir. 1976)); see also Nova Prods.
Inc. v. Kisma Video, Inc., 220 F.R.D. 238, 240 (S.D.N.Y.
2004) (citing Kenneth Leventhal & Co.,
736 F.2d at 31). Leave should be "freely granted
'unless to do so would prejudice the plaintiff, unduly
complicate the trial, or would foster an obviously
unmeritorious claim.'" Wilson v. Home Depot
U.S.A., Inc., No. 11-1000, 2012 WL 5463298, at *1 (D.
Conn. Nov. 8, 2012) (quoting Farrell Family Ventures, LLC
v. Sekas Assocs., LLC, 863 F.Supp.2d 324, 331 (S.D.N.Y.
general, "[i]mpleader is appropriate when the
third-party defendant's liability to the third-party
plaintiff is dependent upon the outcome of the main claim or
the third-party defendant is potentially secondarily liable
as a contributor to the defendant." Id.
(quoting Too, Inc. v. Kohl's Dep't Stores,
Inc., 213 F.R.D. 138, 140 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)) (internal
quotation marks omitted); see also Bank of India v.
Trendi Sportswear, Inc., 239 F.3d 428, 438 (2d Cir.
2000) ("To sustain an impleader action, the third-party
. . . must be liable secondarily to the original defendant .
. . for all or part of the plaintiff's . . . recovery . .
. . This means that the impleader action must be dependent
on, or derivative of, the main . . . claim." (citations,
internal quotation marks, and bracketed material omitted)).
Thus, impleader is often "successfully utilized when the
basis of the third-party claim is indemnity." Charles
Alan Wright et al., 6 Fed. Prac. & Proc. §
1446, at 377 (3d ed. Westlaw April 2016).
considering the substance of Defendants' third party
claim, it is incumbent on the Court to determine whether
there is adequate subject matter jurisdiction over that
claim. Defendants assert that jurisdiction over the third
party claims exists pursuant to this Court's supplemental
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367. See Defs. Br.
at 2. Section 1367 provides that "in any civil action of
which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the
district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all
other claims that are so related to claims in the action
within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the
same case or controversy under Article III of the United
States Constitution." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
"Such supplemental jurisdiction shall include claims
that involve the joinder or intervention of additional
parties." Id. "It is well-settled that a
third-party action for ...