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TOBERMAN v. COPAS

September 30, 1992

JON H. TOBERMAN and CAROL TOBERMAN, his wife, Plaintiffs
v.
JESSE L. COPAS; VALLEY KITCHENS, INC.; STANLEY D. DYKES; LAKEFRONT LINES, INC., t/d/b/a LAKEFRONT TRAILWAYS, Defendants and RICHARD MENENDEZ, Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff v. TIMOTHY SWARTHOUT and ST. JOHNSBURY TRUCKING CO., Third Party Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SYLVIA H. RAMBO

 Before the court is the motion of Third Party Defendants to dismiss, or in the alternative, for a more definite statement. The motion has been briefed and is ripe for disposition.

 On May 6, 1992, Plaintiffs Jon and Carol Toberman filed a complaint against the captioned defendants. The complaint detailed counts of negligence and loss of consortium against each defendant, arising out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred on May 26, 1990 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs' complaint cited various injuries resulting from the accident, and provided some detail regarding the order of the events involved in the accident, the part played by each of the defendants, and specific conduct that was alleged to be negligent.

 One of those defendants was Richard Menendez. On May 26, 1992, Menendez filed a Third Party Complaint against Timothy Swarthout and St. Johnsbury Trucking Company. It is this third party complaint that is the subject of the current motion.

 Discussion

 The relevant portion of the Third Party complaint, for purposes of this motion, is paragraph four, which reads:

 If the Plaintiffs are entitled to recover for damages alleged and Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff Menendez is held liable, which liability is expressly denied, then and in that event, and in the alternative, Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff Menendez believes and avers that all accidents, injuries, and/or damages involved in this action were caused by and were the direct and proximate result of the negligence of the Third Party Defendants, Timothy Swarthout and St. Johnsbury Trucking Co., in this action, and that each of the Third Party Defendants in this action is solely liable to the Plaintiffs, or in the alternative, each Third Party Defendant is jointly and severally liable and Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff Menendez is entitled to contribution and/or indemnification from the Third Party Defendants.

 Third party complaint at P 4.

 Third Party Defendants' motion to dismiss relies on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and (b)(6). Specifically, Third Party Defendants argue that the third party complaint, as worded, does not fall within the court's ancillary jurisdiction and does not comport with the pleading requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.

 I. Is the Third Party Complaint a Proper Application of Rule 14?

 Third Party Defendants argue that this court lacks jurisdiction over the third party claims that they are solely liable or jointly and severally liable to the Plaintiffs. After examining the issue, this court tends to agree, though not on exactly the same rationale presented by Third Party Defendants.

 Third Party Defendants have been impleaded by defendant Menendez under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14. Rule 14 allows third party complaints to be served by a defendant/third party plaintiff upon "a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable to the third-party plaintiff for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff." Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a).

 The underlying purpose of Rule 14 is to promote economy by avoiding the situation where a defendant has been adjudicated liable and then must bring a totally new action against a third party who may be liable to him for all or part of the original plaintiff's claim against him. Charles A. Wright, Arthur Miller & Mary Kane, 6 Federal Practice and Procedure ("Wright & Miller"), § 1441 at 289-90 (1990). True Rule 14 claims fall within "ancillary" or "supplemental" jurisdiction; the latter is a judicially developed concept under which a district court exercises jurisdiction over incidental matters raised by a case over which the court otherwise properly has jurisdiction. See id., § 1444 ...


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