United States District Court, D. Maine
LINDA M. CYR, Plaintiff
GENERAL MOTORS, LLC, Defendant
ORDER ON MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE THIRD-PARTY
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge
products liability action, Plaintiff seeks to recover for
injuries resulting from an automobile collision, which she
claims was caused by the Defendant's design, manufacture,
and marketing of an unsafe automobile. (Complaint
¶¶ 29 - 30.)
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for
leave to file a third-party complaint against the driver of
another vehicle involved in the collision. (ECF No. 15,
a review of the record and after consideration of the
parties' arguments, I grant Defendant's motion.
19, 2016, Plaintiff was a passenger in a 2014 Chevrolet
Impala operated by Plaintiff's husband and traveling
southbound on Main Street/Route 1 in Van Buren, Maine.
(Complaint ¶ 6.) Linda Emond was driving a 2013 GMC
Terrain northbound and crossed into the southbound lane.
(Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff's husband attempted
to avoid a collision, but the vehicles collided in the
northbound lane. (Id.) Plaintiff was injured in the
collision. (Id. ¶¶ 55 - 57.)
August 31, 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action against
Defendant, alleging negligence and strict liability claims
for the design, manufacture, marketing, assembly, and testing
of the Impala. (Id. ¶¶ 27 - 53.) On
December 19, 2018, Defendant filed the motion, seeking to
join Ms. Emond as a third-party defendant. Plaintiff did not
join Ms. Emond as a defendant because Plaintiff settled her
claim against Ms. Emond on July 26, 2018. (Motion ¶ 6;
Release of All Claims, ECF No. 22-1.)
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a)(1). The defending party seeking to assert
a claim against a third-party must obtain leave of the court
“if it files the third-party complaint more than 14
days after serving its original answer.” Id.
“In that event, the determination is left to the
informed discretion of the district court, which should allow
impleader on any colorable claim of derivative liability that
will not unduly delay or otherwise prejudice the ongoing
proceedings.” Lehman v. Revolution Portfolio
L.L.C., 166 F.3d 389, 393 (1st Cir. 1999).
more than 14 days have elapsed, Defendant requires an order
granting leave to file the proposed third-party complaint.
Plaintiff argues that joining Ms. Emond as a third-party
defendant is unnecessary because if the motion is granted,
Ms. Emond would be entitled to a dismissal of the claim
pursuant to Maine's statutes governing tort claims
involving multiple responsible parties, 14 M.R.S.
§§ 156 and 163.
Maine Law Court described the operation of Maine's
comparative negligence statute, 14 M.R.S. § 156 as
Under the Maine Comparative Negligence Act, 14 M.R.S.A.
§ 156, a claimant whose injuries result partly from his
own and partly from another's causative fault is not, by
reason of the fact that the claimant's own fault
contributed to his own injury, excluded from the recovery of
some damages, unless such claimant is found by the jury to be
equally at fault. But, if the claimant's causative fault
is found to be less than the causative fault of the other
party, then the damages recoverable in respect to the
claimant's injury under such circumstances shall be
reduced, so the statute says, from the total damages which
would have been recoverable if the claimant had not been at
fault “to such extent as the jury thinks just and
equitable having regard to the claimant's share in the
responsibility for the damage.”
Jackson v. Frederick's Motor Inn, 418 A.2d 168,
172 (Me. 1980).
comparative negligence statute also grants certain rights and
procedures for “case[s] involving multiparty
defendants.” 14 M.R.S. § 156. “[E]ach
defendant is jointly and severally liable . . . for the full
amount of the plaintiff's damages, ” but “any
defendant has the right . . . to request of the jury the
percentage of fault contributed by each defendant.”
Id. “The comparative negligence statute, 14
M.R.S. § 156, requires the fact-finder to make two
separate and distinct decisions: first, to determine
liability, and second, to apportion ...