• July 3, 2010

When Minnesota Litigator noted yesterday’s decision in a case with a defendant, Blast-Tek, the initial thought was that U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle (D. Minn.) had timed a decision involving a pyrotechnics company just in time for the Independence Day fireworks, but no such luck.

Blast-Tek built and sold a bulk abrasive sandblaster that is alleged to have “exploded” and injured Plaintiff Michael Hawes.  Two codefendants (upstream component manufacturers) moved for summary judgment, which Plaintiff Hawes did not oppose.  But Blast-Tek did oppose its co-defendants’ motions for summary judgment.  Can a co-defendant force a plaintiff to litigate against another defendant when the plaintiff has surrendered his claims against that defendant?  Judge Kyle unequivocally says, “No.”

In answering the complaint, Blast-Tek did not cross-claim against its two defendants.   That would have kept them in the lawsuit at least.  Unfortunately, in light of the fact that Blast-Tek sought to add cross-claims against co-defendants late in the game (see Kyle Order, ftn. 4), this may have have been inadvertent rather than calculated.

The decision is also noteworthy for the fact that Judge Kyle reviewed the papers in advance of a schedule July 12 hearing on the motions and, having done so and having concluded that oral argument would be a waste of everyone’s time, Judge Kyle cancelled the hearing (noted in Kyle Order, ftn. 5).

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