United States District Court, D. Maryland
DEAN L. AMSPACHER, JR., Plaintiff,
BUILDING SYSTEMS TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
CHAD WOLF, Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff,
SNAVELY & DOSCH, INC., Third-Party Defendant.
GLENN L. HINKLEY, Third-Party Defendant.
Stephanie A. Gallagher United States Magistrate Judge
Dean L. Amspacher, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) sued
Defendants and Third-Party Plaintiffs Building Systems
Transportation Company and Chad Wolf (collectively,
“Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs”) for injuries
allegedly sustained in an automobile accident on September
14, 2014. [ECF No. 1]. Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs
sought leave to file a third-party complaint on October 13,
2017, [ECF Nos. 33, 34], which this Court granted on October
20, 2017, [ECF No. 36]. On November 1, 2017,
Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs filed a Third-Party
Complaint against Third-Party Defendants Snavely & Dosch,
Inc. and Glenn L. Hinkley (collectively, “Third-Party
Defendants”). [ECF No. 37].
pending is the Motion to Dismiss the Third-Party Complaint
and Request for Hearing (“Motion”), filed jointly
by Third-Party Defendants. [ECF No. 45]. I have reviewed the
Motion, Defendants'/Third-Party Plaintiffs' Reply to
Third-Party Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
(“Response”), [ECF No. 49], and Third-Party
Defendants' Reply to Third-Party Plaintiffs'
Opposition to the Motion (“Reply”), [ECF No. 52].
No. hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the reasons set forth herein, Third-Party
Defendants' Motion will be GRANTED.
Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that, on September 14, 2014,
while he was operating his vehicle in Port Deposit, Maryland,
his vehicle was struck by a truck owned by Building Systems
Transportation Company and operated by Mr. Wolf. [ECF No. 1
¶ 5]. According to the Complaint, “Plaintiff
sustained injuries to his right shoulder, requiring extended
medical treatment, diagnostic tests, surgery upon the right
shoulder,  physical therapy for the right shoulder . . .
[and] sustained wage loss, incurred pain and suffering, and
loss of life's pleasures, as well as undergoing mental
stress and anxiety . . . .” Id. ¶¶
8-9. Additionally, Plaintiff alleged that he “incurred
medical bills, may sustain a future wage loss[, ] and may
incur future medical bills as a result of the injuries
sustained in [the] accident.” Id. ¶ 10.
fifteen days after the accident at issue, on September 29,
2014, Plaintiff alleges that he suffered an unrelated
automobile accident in Pennsylvania. [ECF No. 37 ¶ 3];
see also [ECF No. 45 ¶ 2]. In the Court of
Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Plaintiff
alleged that, on September 29, 2014, while he was operating
his vehicle in Colerain Township, Pennsylvania, his vehicle
was struck by a truck owned by Snavely & Dosch and
operated by Mr. Hinkley. [ECF No. 33, Ex. A at 4-5].
Plaintiff further alleges that, as a result of the September
29, 2014 accident, he sustained injuries to “his head,
. . . his shoulder, . . . his left right arm above the head,
sharp pain above his hip on the right side, a concussion,
neck pain, pain across the shoulders, a broken left arm, a
broken left wrist, injuries to his right knee, and other
serious and permanent injuries.” Id. at 6.
Moreover, Plaintiff alleges damages resulting from medical
expenses, “severe pain, mental anguish, humiliation[, ]
. . . loss of life's pleasures, . . . severe loss of
earnings and an impairment of his earning power.”
Id. at 7. After discovering the existence of the
second accident and the Lancaster County case, on November 1,
2017, Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs filed a Third-Party
Complaint against Third-Party Defendants, seeking
indemnification and contribution for any damages resulting
from Plaintiff's claims in this Court. [ECF No. 37].
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a), a defendant may, as
a third-party plaintiff, bring suit against “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). Third-party
procedure seeks to “prevent circuity of action by
drawing into one proceeding all parties who may become
ultimately liable . . . .” American Export Lines v.
Revel, 262 F.2d 122, 124 (4th Cir. 1958). By doing so,
the parties may “save the time and cost of duplicating
evidence and  obtain consistent results from identical or
similar evidence, as well as  avoid the serious handicap of
a time lag between a judgment against the original defendant
and a judgment in his favor against the third-party
defendant.” Id. (citation omitted). When a
third-party claim is improper, “[a]ny party may move to
strike the third-party claim, to sever it, or to try it
separately.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a)(4).
have held that a third-party claim must be
“derivative” of the original plaintiff's
claim. See, e.g., Scott v. PPG Indus.,
Inc., 920 F.2d 927, No. 89-2362, 1990 WL 200655, at *3
(4th Cir. 1990) (unpublished table decision) (per curiam)
(“We repeat that the third-party claim must be
‘derivative' of the plaintiff's claim for
‘[d]erivative liability is central to the operation of
Rule 14.'”) (citing Watergate Landmark Condo.
Unit Owners' Ass'n v. Wiss, Janey, Elstner Assocs.,
Inc., 117 F.R.D. 576, 578 (E.D. Va. 1987)); Crowley
v, BWW Law Grp., LLC, RDB-15-607, 2016 WL 4611275, at *5
(D. Md. Sept. 6, 2016) (“In order to implead a third
party under Rule 14(a), this Court has previously held that
the third-party plaintiff's claim must be
‘derivative' of the plaintiff's claim.”)
(citation omitted); L'Occitane, Inc. v. Tran Source
Logistics, Inc., Civil No. WMN-09-2499, 2010 WL 761201,
at *5 (D. Md. Mar. 2, 2010) (“It is settled beyond
dispute that a third party claim can be maintained only if
the liability it asserts is in some way derivative of the
main claim.”) (citation omitted). Proper third-party
claims generally “involve one joint tortfeasor
impleading another, an indemnitee impleading an indemnitor,
or a secondarily liable party impleading one who is primarily
liable.” Watergate, 117 F.R.D. at 578. A
third-party claim, however, is not proper where the
third-party plaintiff “says, in effect, ‘It was
him, not me.'” Id.; see also
Crowley, 2016 WL 4611275, at *5 (“[A] third-party
complaint is not appropriate where a defendant merely
attempts to deflect blame onto another person . . .
.”). In assessing third-party claims, this Court may
consider several factors, including “the introduction
of unrelated issues or the undue complication of the original
suit.” Crowley, 2016 WL 4611275, at *5.
initial matter, the Third-Party Complaint in the instant case
does not “involve any kind of derivative or secondary
liability, nor could it.” L'Occitane, 2010
WL 761201, at *4. Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs concede
that Third-Party Defendants “were not involved in the
September 14, 2014 accident, ” which form the basis of
the claims in Plaintiff's Complaint. [ECF No. 49 ¶
9]. Notably, in their Response, Defendants/Third-Party
Plaintiffs cite to Donaldson v. United States Steel
Corp., where the federal district court denied impleader
after the defendant and third-party plaintiff argued
“that it [was] not liable to the plaintiff for the
injuries he received, but rather that the injuries were
caused by a totally independent occurrence, and that
therefore liability should rest squarely on shoulders of the
third-party defendants.” 53 F.R.D. 228, 230 (W.D. Pa.
1971). In doing so, the federal district court noted that,
“[w]hile our Federal Rules are liberally construed,
they do not permit such expansion as to include the joinder
of totally unrelated events into one single
Plaintiffs further argue that, in light of Plaintiff's
“claim of identical injuries arising from both the
September 14, 2014 accident and the September 29, 2014
accident and the temporal connection between said accidents,
” they are entitled to indemnification and contribution
for any damages resulting from the instant case. [ECF No. 49
¶ 9]. This Court finds that Defendants/Third-Party
Plaintiffs are not entitled to indemnification or
contribution, and, therefore, that the Third-Party Complaint
must be dismissed.
Pennsylvania law,  the right to indemnification arises
“only from those who are primarily liable to those who
are merely secondarily or vicariously liable.” In
re One Meridian Plaza Fire Litigation, 820 F.Supp. 1492,
1496 (E.D. Pa. 1993) (citing Pennine Resources, Inc. v.
Dorwart Andrew & Company, 639 F.Supp. 1071, 1075
(E.D. Pa. 1986)). Indemnification is “a right which
inures to a person who, without active fault on his part, has
been compelled, by reason of some legal obligation, to pay
damages occasioned by the initial negligence of another, and
for which he himself is only secondarily liable.”
Id. To determine whether liability is primary or
secondary, this Court may consider “such factors as
active or passive negligence and knowledge of an opportunity
to discuss or prevent the harm.” Id. (citing
Di Pietro v. Philadelphia, 496 A.2d 407, 409-10 (Pa.
1985)). Indemnification, however, is not proper “simply
because another party bears some fault.” Rich v.
Brandywine Ins. Advisors, LLC, Civil Action No. 16-3965,
2017 WL 961002, at *3 (E. D. Pa. March 10, 2017) (quoting
Merrill Lynch v. Staiman, 771 F.Supp. 102, 105 (E.D.
Pa. Aug. 15, 1991)).
Plaintiffs have failed to articulate any substantive basis
for indemnification from Third-Party Defendants. See
Pitcavage v. Mastercraft Boat Co., 632 F.Supp. 842,
845-46 (M.D. Pa. 1985). First, the Third-Party Complaint does
not allege any legal relationship whereby Third-Party
Defendants would be liable for the conduct of
Defendants/Third-Party Plaintiffs. See Morris v.
Lenihan, 192 F.R.D. 484, 489 (E.D. Pa. May 2, 2000)
(finding no right of indemnity while noting, “Nothing
in the instant third-party complaint indicates the existence
of a relationship between the [defendants/third-party
plaintiffs] and the [third-party defendants] that . . . would
legally require the [defendants/third-party plaintiffs] to
pay damages for which the [third-party defendants] were
primarily liable.”). Moreover, Defendants/Third-Party
Plaintiffs may not seek indemnification where they had some
“active fault” for Plaintiff's injuries.
See In re One Meridian Plaza Fire Litigation, 820
F.Supp. at 1496; see also Rich, 2017 WL 961002, at
*4. Here, Plaintiff's Complaint adequately alleges that
Defendants'/Third-Party Plaintiffs may be liable for
Plaintiff's injuries as a result of “their own
independent acts or omissions.” M ...