• August 12, 2019

Patty Plaintiff sues Donnie Defendant. Donnie feels wronged, feels the fault lies with Theodore Third Party.

Is it proper for Donnie to bring a third-party complaint against Theodore, stating, in effect, “I am not the correct defendant; Theodore is,” or, alternately, to argue, “If I am liable to Patty, Theodore shares some of the blame”?

U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz (D. Minn. answered this question in Delta Industrial Services, Inc. v. Kollmorgen Corp. v. Kaman Automation, Inc. Can you guess the answer?

The answer is, “No.”

“[A]s this Court and other courts have explained on countless occasions—this is not a proper third‐party claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a).”

A defendant may not use Rule 14 to implead a third‐party defendant who may have liability to the plaintiff instead of the defendant or in addition to the defendant. Rather, a defendant may use Rule 14 to implead a third‐party defendant only if that third party will be liable to the defendant if the defendant is found liable to the plaintiff. Moreover, the liability of the third‐party defendant to the defendant must be contingent on the defendant being held liable to the plaintiff . . . .

Citing United States v. Bailey, 516 F. Supp. 2d 998, 1020 (D. Minn. 2007), affʹd, 571 F.3d 791 (8th Cir. 2009);

We note that the dismissal is without prejudice, meaning that, maybe, “Donny Defendant” can bring another third-party complaint against “Theodore Third-party,” pled differently?

[Query: What is the point of the judge’s dig (“as this Court and other courts have explained on countless occasions…”)? What place does this jab have in a judicial ruling? What value does it bring? What is the Court’s motivation, we wonder?]

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