The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.
Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion for Leave to Join Third-Party Defendant Sara Naramanian (Civil Action No. 4757, Doc. 22) to Civil Action No. 07-cv-4758, Naramanian's Response in Opposition thereto and New Matter (Civil Action No. 4757, Doc. 26), and Defendants' Response to Naramanian's New Matter (Civil Action No. 4757, Doc. 27). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendants' Motion.
Plaintiffs initiated these consolidated actions against Defendants for personal injuries sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident.*fn1 Plaintiff Sara Naramanian is a resident of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs Raul Ortiz, Mariah Ortiz, Nancy Velazquez and Jennifer Moreno ("Ortiz Plaintiffs") are also residents of Pennsylvania. Defendant Greyhound Lines, Inc. ("Greyhoumd") is a Delaware corporation. Defendant Ning Xu is a resident of Delaware.
The facts giving rise to Plaintiffs' Complaints are as follows. On or about November 13, 2005, the Ortiz Plaintiffs were passengers in a 2002 Toyota Camry driven by Naramanian, which was traveling southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike near Moorestown, New Jersey. Defendant Xu, an employee of Defendant Greyhound, was operating a Greyhound bus when the bus allegedly struck the Plaintiffs' vehicle. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant Xu was operating the bus at an excessively high speed and lost control of the vehicle. All Plaintiffs claim they suffered various physical injuries as a result of the accident.
On November 13, 2007, Naramanian filed a Complaint (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 1) against Defendants in federal court for negligence.*fn2 Naramanian seeks $150,000.00 in damages plus interests and costs against Defendant Xu and $150,000.00 in damages plus interests and costs against Defendant Greyhound. On November 4, 2008, Defendants filed an Answer (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 17) generally denying the allegations in Naramanian's Complaint.
On November 13, 2007, the Ortiz Plaintiffs also filed a Complaint (Civil Action No. 07-4758, Doc. 1) in federal court against Defendants for negligence.*fn3 Each Plaintiff in the Ortiz matter seeks an amount in excess of $75,000.00 in damages plus interests and costs. Defendants filed an Answer (Civil Action No. 07-4758, Doc. 6) generally denying the allegations in the Ortiz Plaintiffs' Complaint on September 17, 2008. The matter was placed on the arbitration track, but the Arbitration Hearing scheduled for January 5, 2009 was cancelled. A Rule 16 Conference was then scheduled for February 10, 2009, but that conference was also cancelled.
On June 1, 2009, Defendants filed a Motion for Leave to Join Naramanian as a Third-Party Defendant in the Ortiz case (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 22). On June 18, 2009, the Court granted the motion as unopposed (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 23). In an Order dated July 7, 2009 (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 25), in response to a joint stipulation of the parties allowing Plaintiffs to respond, the Court vacated the June 18, 2009 Order and granted Plaintiffs seven days to respond. On July 13, 2009, Naramanian filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion and New Matter (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 26). On July 14, 2009, Defendants filed a Response to Naramanian's New Matter (Civil Action No. 07-4757, Doc. 27). The court now addresses this pending motion.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 14(a) permits a defendant to file a third party complaint against a nonparty "who is or may be liable to [the defendant] for all or part of the claim against [the defendant]." The purpose of Rule 14(a) is "to permit additional parties whose rights may be affected by the decision in the original action to be joined and brought in so as to expedite the final determination of the rights and liabilities of all of the interested persons in one suit." Glens Falls Indem. Co. v. Atl. Bldg. Corp., 199 F.2d 60, 63 (4th Cir. 1952). A defendant may only use Rule 14 to implead a third-party defendant where the third-party defendant is, or may be, liable to the defendant derivatively or secondarily, and not to join a person who is or may be liable solely to the plaintiff. FDIC v. Bathgate, 27 F.3d 850, 873 (3d Cir. 1994).
Whether to allow a party to file a third-party complaint is within the sound discretion of the trial court. Bike v. Am. Motors Corp., 101 F.R.D. 77, 78 (E.D. Pa. 1984). A rule 14(a) motion should be "freely granted to promote . . . efficiency unless to do so would prejudice the plaintiff, unduly complicate the trial, or would foster an obviously unmeritorious claim." Scobie v. Waco Equip. Co., et al., No. 03-1224, 2008 WL 1943551, at * 1 (W.D. Pa. May 1, 2008) (citing Hicks v. Long Island R.R., 165 F.R.D. 377, 379 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)). "[A]lthough impleader may cause prejudice due to the need for additional discovery, that prejudice is sufficiently outweighed by the benefits of more efficient litigation to be gained by permitting impleader." McCurdy v. Wedge Wood Capital Mgmt., Co., No. 97-4304, 1999 WL 554590, at * 2 (E.D. Pa. July 16, 1999) (citing Hicks, 165 F.R.D. at 379).
In deciding whether to grant Defendants' Motion to Join Third Party Defendant, the Court must address two issues: (1)whether a substantive basis for impleader exists; and (2) whether the equitable factors weigh in favor of impleader. For the reasons discussed ...