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Maysey v. Henkel Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

April 10, 2018



          H. Brent Brennenstuhl United States Magistrate Judge.


         Defendant Henkel Corporation has moved the Court, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a), for leave to file a third party complaint against Magna-Tech Manufacturing, LLC and Colorado Express Services, Inc. d/b/a Express Services, Inc. (DN 83). Plaintiff, Nathaniel Edward Maysey, has filed a response (DN 91), and Henkel has filed a reply (DN 95). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted.


         Maysey filed a tort action in the Barren Circuit Court seeking to hold Henkel and codefendant Nemak USA, Inc. liable for injuries he suffered while working at a Magna-Tech Manufacturing, LLC facility in Glasgow, Kentucky (DN 1-1 PageID # 10-28). Maysey claims he was directed to operate an impregnation machine without a point of operation guard or “safety lid” or safety light and that the machine was not properly maintained (DN 1-1 PageID # 10-28). Henkel subsequently removed the action to this Court (DN 1).

         Magna-Tech apparently hired Maysey as a temporary employee through his employer, Express Services (Id.). Maysey has asserted a worker's compensation claim against Express Services (DN 83 PageID # 497 citing Kentucky Workers' Compensation Claim No. 2016-81368). Express Services and Magna-Tech are not parties to this action. Henkel seeks leave to assert third-party claims against Express Services and Magna-Tech for the purpose of obtaining an apportionment of fault instruction for Maysey's injuries or, in the alternative, to obtain a judgment of contribution and/or indemnification against them in the full amount of any judgment that may be rendered against Henkel and in favor of Maysey or the Intervening Plaintiff, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.[1] (DN 83-1 Proposed Third-Party Complaint).


         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide as follows:

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. 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a)(1). "The decision of whether to grant a motion for leave to implead is a matter committed to the discretion of the district court, and the exercise of discretion is essentially a process of balancing the prejudices." The Sixth Circuit has stated that the promptness of a motion for leave to implead a third-party is "an urgent factor" guiding a court's exercise of discretion. Gen. Elec. Co. v. Irvin, 274 F.2d 175, 178 (6th Cir.1960). Other factors include: (i) the motion's timeliness; (ii) the likelihood of trial delay; (iii) potential for complication of issues; and (iv) prejudice to the original plaintiff. Botkin v. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Ins. Co ., Ltd., 956 F.Supp.2d 795, 802 (E.D.Ky.2013). Maysey has not objected to the motion on any of these grounds (DN 91 PageID # 611-13).

         “The purpose of Rule 14 is to permit additional parties whose rights may be affected by the decision in the original action to be joined so as to expedite the final determination of the rights and liabilities of all the interested parties in one suit.” Am. Zurich Ins. Co. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., 512 F.3d 800, 805 (6th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). The Sixth Circuit has explained as follows:

Third-party pleading is appropriate only when the third-party defendant's liability to the third-party plaintiff is dependent on the outcome of the main claim; one that merely arises out of the same set of facts does not allow a third-party defendant to be impleaded. A defendant attempting to transfer the liability asserted against him by the original plaintiff to the third-party defendant is therefore the essential criterion of a third-party claim. Correlatively, a defendant's claim against a third-party defendant cannot simply be an independent or related claim, but must be based upon the original plaintiff's claim against the defendant.

Id. Thus, the underlying purpose of Rule 14 is “‘to promote economy by avoiding the situation where a defendant has been adjudicated liable and then must bring a totally new action against a third party who may be liable to him for all or part of the original plaintiff's claim against him.'” Id. (quoting 6 Wright, Miller, Kane, Fed. Prac. & Proc.: Civ.2d § 1441 at 289-90 (2d ed.1990)).

         Under Kentucky law indemnity, contribution, and apportionment are three related but distinct concepts. Stanford v. United States, 948 F.Supp.2d 729, 744 (E.D. Ky. 2013). “Apportionment is the most modern of the three doctrines, codified by the legislature in 1998.” Id. (citing Ky. Rev. Stat. § 411.182, Degener v. Hall Contracting Corp., 27 S.W.3d 775, 779 (Ky. 2000)). “[A]pportionment spreads the liability for a plaintiff's claims among the tortfeasors based on their relative fault.” Stanford, 948 F.Supp.2d at 744 (citing Degener, 27 S.W.3d at 779). When a potential tortfeasor is not named as a defendant in the complaint, a ...

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