Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

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nsv
Posts: 27
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 3:36 pm

Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby nsv » Thu Dec 05, 2013 12:48 am

Can Chris file a third-party complaint against Bennet? I just can not see how that is possible, for that reason, I can not answer question three. Thank you for any help.

Copyco, Inc. (“Copyco”), a maker of copy machines, is incorporated in State A and has its principal place of business in State A. Paula is a citizen of State B anddd an employee of Bennet Company (“Bennet”), a sole proprietorship whose sole office is located in State B. Chris is a citizen of State C and also is an employee of Bennet. State C is an adjoining state to State B and Chris travels 25 miles each day to work at Bennet in State B.

While at work at Bennet, Paula was using a Copyco copy machine when the machine started to jam. As Paula tried to clear the jam, Chris came over and nudged Paula as he jokingly said, “Well the owner’s little pet certainly is not very adelpt at technology!” Suddenly Paula’s hand got caught in the copy machine and was severly injured. Paula underwent several surgeries at a nearby hospital. Her physician believes that she may never recover the full use of her hand.

Paula filed a diversity-based lawsuit in the United States District Court for State B against Copyco, alleging negligence. The Complaint alleged a second cause of action against Chris for battery. Regarding both causes of action, Paula alleged that she suffered physical injury, and that she sought damages of $200,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

Concurrently with filing his Answer, Chris filed a third-party complaint, seeking to implead Bennet. Specifically, Chris claimed that Bennet, not he, was liable to Paula for negligently maintaining the Copyco copy machine.

The federal court has subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. The federal court has proper territorial jurisdiction and venue to hear Paula’s lawsuit. Both defendants were personally served.

QUESTIONS:
1. Provide an objective analysis whether all of the parties were properly joined in Paula’s lawsuit.
2. Copyco wants to claim that Paula and/or Chris were responsible for Paula’s injuries. What action should Copyco take? Discuss.
3. Bennet wants to claim that Chris was responsible for Paula’s injuries. What action should Bennet take? Discuss.



arklaw13
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Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby arklaw13 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:33 am

He can do interpleader under rule 22. Does that answer your question or are you wanting further SMJ/PJ/Venue stuff answered?

nsv
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Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 3:36 pm

Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby nsv » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:38 am

arklaw13 wrote:He can do interpleader under rule 22. Does that answer your question or are you wanting further SMJ/PJ/Venue stuff answered?


I am a bit confused by your answer. In the hypo, it states that "Chris filed a third-party complaint, seeking to implead Bennet". I am trying to figure out if he can even do that under Rule 14. Once I figure out the answer to that, I can then answer question 3.

arklaw13
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:36 pm

Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby arklaw13 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:44 am

nsv wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:He can do interpleader under rule 22. Does that answer your question or are you wanting further SMJ/PJ/Venue stuff answered?


I am a bit confused by your answer. In the hypo, it states that "Chris filed a third-party complaint, seeking to implead Bennet". I am trying to figure out if he can even do that under Rule 14. Once I figure out the answer to that, I can then answer question 3.


From Rule 14

(a)(1) Timing of the Summons and Complaint. 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.

Chris can implead Bennet because he's saying that Bennet is responsible for the injuries to Paula.

edit: I misread the question earlier when I said Rule 22 would be the proper way. My bad.

nsv
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Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 3:36 pm

Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby nsv » Thu Dec 05, 2013 1:51 am

arklaw13 wrote:
nsv wrote:
arklaw13 wrote:He can do interpleader under rule 22. Does that answer your question or are you wanting further SMJ/PJ/Venue stuff answered?


I am a bit confused by your answer. In the hypo, it states that "Chris filed a third-party complaint, seeking to implead Bennet". I am trying to figure out if he can even do that under Rule 14. Once I figure out the answer to that, I can then answer question 3.


From Rule 14

(a)(1) Timing of the Summons and Complaint. 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.

Chris can implead Bennet because he's saying that Bennet is responsible for the injuries to Paula.

edit: I misread the question earlier when I said Rule 22 would be the proper way. My bad.


My initial conclusion was that Chris can implead Bennet but then while doing E & E, I read the following paragraph:
It is crucial to distinguish these cases from situations in which the defendant contends that another person is liable directly to the plaintiff but not to her. Suppose that Wellington's polo match took place in a jurisdiction that did not allow contribution between join tortfeasors. In that case Robespierre might still be liable to Napoleon directly, but Wellington could not implead him because Robespierre would not be liable to Wellington at all. He can't offer up Robespierre as an alternate defendant to Napoleon, saying, "Here, Napoleon, you sued me, but you really should have sued us both, so here's Robespierre; go at him." That would allow the defendant to dictate to the plaintiff whom to sue where, in defiance of the conventional doctrine that the plaintiff is master of her claim

arklaw13
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Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby arklaw13 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:04 am

Then I guess it would probably be improper unless he was alleging that Bennet is liable under some indemnification provision in his employment.

If Chris can't implead Bennet, Bennet might be able to intervene. It could argue that it's interests aren't represented because Chris will try to put all the blame on the company.

nsv
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Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 3:36 pm

Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby nsv » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:42 pm

@Arklaw - thank you for your input.


Anyone else want to jump in and tell us if we are on the right track?

alex238
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Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby alex238 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:16 am

My understanding is that impleading a third party is generally proper for contribution and indemnity claims, but not much else. Chris's claim against Bennet seems like a contribution claim. They key sentence you missed in the E&E passage is "Suppose that Wellington's polo match took place in a jurisdiction that did not allow contribution between joint tortfeasors." If contribution is available, one tortfeasor can implead the other under Rule 14.

I'm not sure what that means for question 3. Wouldn't Bennet just file an answer to Chris's claim denying the allegations? They wouldn't counterclaim because they don't actually have a claim against Chris, right?

Swimp
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Re: Please help with this old exam question [Civil Procedure]

Postby Swimp » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:37 pm

alex238 wrote:My understanding is that impleading a third party is generally proper for contribution and indemnity claims, but not much else. Chris's claim against Bennet seems like a contribution claim. They key sentence you missed in the E&E passage is "Suppose that Wellington's polo match took place in a jurisdiction that did not allow contribution between joint tortfeasors." If contribution is available, one tortfeasor can implead the other under Rule 14.

I'm not sure what that means for question 3. Wouldn't Bennet just file an answer to Chris's claim denying the allegations? They wouldn't counterclaim because they don't actually have a claim against Chris, right?


Yeah, I think all Bennett needs to do is establish that they maintained the copier reasonably well. This is getting into more torts material than Civ Pro (at least as far as my classes were concerned), but Bennett would want to show that the injury was either caused by some kind of design or manufacturing defect on Copyco's part, or that it was purely Chris's battery, in which case they're not liable b/c it's an intentional tort.




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