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Hughes v. Target Brands, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

June 6, 2018

ELISA-MARIE HUGHES, Plaintiff,
v.
TARGET BRANDS, INC., Defendants.

          RULING AND ORDER

          Victor A. Bolden United States District Judge

         Elisa-Marie Hughes (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit in the Superior Court of Connecticut for the Judicial District of Ansonia and Milford, alleging injuries from a visit to a Target store in Orange, Connecticut. Target Corporation (“Defendant”), citing this Court's diversity jurisdiction, removed the case to federal court. Defendant now moves for leave to file a Third-Party Complaint and an extension of time to complete discovery as a result.

         For the reasons stated below, both motions are GRANTED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff is a Connecticut citizen. Notice of Removal ¶ 2, ECF No. 1. Defendant, Target Corporation, is a Minnesota Corporation with its principal place of business in Minneapolis. Id. Plaintiff filed the initial Complaint in this matter in Superior Court on January 16, 2017. See generally Comp., Notice of Removal, Ex. A, ECF No. 1.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on the evening of February 26, 2015, she slipped and fell “due to an excessively slippery condition” on the floor of Defendant's store in Orange, Connecticut. Compl. ¶ 7. As a result, she allegedly suffered “sustained and painful injuries” to her neck, wrist, and right ankle, and continues to suffer from migraine headaches and pain “necessitating injections.” Id. ¶ 12. She also alleges that the fall was due to Defendant's negligence in maintaining the floors of its store, and in failing to warn her about a potentially dangerous condition. Id. ¶ 10.

         On February 16, 2017, Defendant removed the case to this Court, citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Notice of Removal ¶ 5. On September 5, 2017, Defendant filed its Answer and raised affirmative defenses, including that any harm to Plaintiff was “caused by the intervening and superseding acts or omissions of parties other than the defendant . . . .” Id. at 6.

         Defendant now moves for leave to file a Third-Party Complaint against Diversey Inc. under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a). See Def. Mot, ECF No. 23.[1] Defendant alleges that Diversey is not a party to this action, but may be liable because Defendant had contracted with Diversey to “provide goods and services including the supplying of wax chemicals for floor maintenance.” Def Mem. at 2. It also argues that, under the terms of the contract, Diversey is obligated to defend and indemnify Target. Id. at 5-6. Defendant Target attached the proposed Third-Party Complaint to its motion, and Plaintiff has not opposed the request.

         In order to facilitate discovery related to the putative third party, Defendant seeks an extension of time. See Def. Mot. for Extension of Time, ECF No. 26. Defendant wishes to extend all deadlines by six months, and Plaintiff consents to the request. Id.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 14(a)(1) states that a defendant “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. But the third-party plaintiff must, by motion, obtain the court's leave if it files the third-party complaint more than 14 days after serving its original answer.” The “traditional grounds for a third-party action are indemnification, contribution, or subrogation.” iBasis Glob., Inc. v. Diamond Phone Card, Inc., 278 F.R.D. 70, 74 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (citing Int'l Paving Sys. Inc. v. Van-Tulco, Inc., 866 F.Supp. 682, 687 (E.D.N.Y.1994); Telecom Intern. America, Ltd. v. AT & T Corp., No. 96-CV-1366, 1999 WL 777954, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 1999)). The threshold issue is whether the outcome of the third-party claim is contingent on the outcome of the main claim. Id.

         In deciding whether leave should be granted, courts will consider factors including: “(a) whether the moving party deliberately delayed or was derelict in filing the motion; (b) whether impleading would unduly delay or complicate the trial; (c) whether impleading would prejudice the plaintiff or the third-party defendant; and (d) whether the proposed third-party complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Id. (quoting Capitol Records, Inc. v. City Hall Records, Inc., No. 07-CV-6488, 2008 WL 2811481, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. July 18, 2008). The decision to grant leave is within the court's discretion. Suckan v. Metro-N. R. Co., No. 3:11-cv-1070 CSH, 2011 WL 4841018, at *1 (D. Conn. Oct. 12, 2011).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendant moves for leave to file a Third-Party Complaint against Diversey, because this company allegedly is responsible for the cleaning of floors and the training of staff at this Target store. Under the terms of the contract between Defendant and Diversey, Diversey allegedly agreed to defend and indemnify Target against lawsuits, such as the one brought by Ms. Hughes here. Plaintiff has not opposed the motion.[2] Defendant also moves for an extension of time in order to complete discovery related to the Third-Party ...


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