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United States v. Joe Grasso & Son, Inc.

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The federal government appealed a district court judgment stating that the government’s third party claim did not arise out of the original claim field by Joe Grasso & Son, Inc.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A separate and independent claim cannot be upheld against a third party under Rule 14, even if they allege the same facts of the original claim.

    Facts.

    Grasso filed suit against government for the return of taxes they paid for employees that worked on Grasso’s shrimp boats. In its answer to the complaint, the government brought a third-party complaint against the shrimp boat captains, alleging that they were the true employers of those who worked on the shrimp boats. The district court found that the third party claim did not arise out of the original claim, and the government filed an interlocutory appeal.

    Issue.

    Whether a separate and independent claim can be upheld against a third party under Rule 14, even if they allege the same facts of the original claim?

    Held.

    No. The holding is affirmed. The captains may not be joined as third party defendants to the claim because the third option, classifying that fishermen were independent contractors and had no employer, exists.

    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.


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