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Toberman v. Copas

    Brief Fact Summary.

    A defendant in the Toberman suit filed a third party suit against Swarthout and St. Johnsbury trucking company and the third party sought to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A defendant may not implead a third-party defendant on the basis that the third-party is completely liable to the plaintiff under Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

    Facts.

    The Tobermans filed suit against several defendants for injuries in a car accident. A defendant, Menendez, filed a third-party suit against Swarthout and St. Johnsbury Trucking Company. The third party filed a motion to dismiss.

    Issue.

    Whether a defendant may implead a third-party defendant on the basis that the third-party is completely liable to the plaintiff under Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure?

    Held.

    No. The motion will be dismiss if Menendez does not amend his complaint in compliance with Rule 14. Menendez cannot implead Swarthout and St. Johnsbury Trucking Company on the basis that they are wholly liable to the plaintiff.

    Discussion.

    Rule 14(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a third party complaints to be filed by a defendant/third-party plaintiff, on the basis that the third party becomes liable to the defendant/third-party plaintiff for all or part of the claims. The proper place for a defendant to claim that a third party is wholly liable to the plaintiff is in the answer to the complaint, not in the impleader.


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