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Bakali v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

June 20, 2018

ABDUR RAUF BAKALI, as administratrix of of the estate of OSMAN M. BAKALI, Plaintiff,
v.
GLENN A. JONES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. MITCHELL United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff, Abdur Rauf Bakali, as administrator of the estate of Osman M. Bakali, deceased, [1] brings this negligence action against Defendants, Glenn Jones and Eagle Express Lines, Inc. (“Eagle Express”), arising out of a July 16, 2016 automobile accident in which Osman Bakali (“Bakali”) was killed. The case was originally filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, then removed to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on the basis of diversity of citizenship and finally transferred to this Court because the accident occurred in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The action was filed in this Court on September 5, 2017.

         Presently pending before the Court is a motion, filed by Defendants, for leave to file a Third Party Complaint, which is attached to the motion as Exhibit A (ECF No. 37). The proposed Third Party Complaint would name three Third-Party Defendants and assert claims against them for negligence and negligent entrustment. Plaintiff has filed a brief in opposition to the motion. For the reasons that follow, the motion for leave to file a Third Party Complaint will be denied.

         Facts

         According to the police report which is attached to the Notice of Removal, on July 16, 2016, Bakali was driving a car westbound on Interstate 70 with two passengers in the car, Shamaas Nyazee and Daoud Ahmed Kahn. Bakali pulled the car onto the shoulder with the rear left tire still in the travel lane and got out to examine the front of the car because he believed he had hit something. As he returned to re-enter the vehicle, he and the car were struck by a truck owned by Eagle Express and driven by Glenn Jones (“Jones”). Bakali was thrown from the impact and landed face down on the shoulder, and he subsequently died from his injuries. (Notice of Removal Ex. B.)[2]

         Procedural History

         This action was commenced on or about March 13, 2017 in the Superior Court of New Jersey. Count I alleges a claim of negligence against both Defendants. Count II alleges a claim of vicarious liability against Eagle Express. Count III alleges a claim of negligent hiring against Eagle Express. Count IV indicates that, to the extent any other party is responsible for the transport of goods or employment of the truck driver involved in the accident, Plaintiff will seek to hold such parties liable.

         On April 7, 2017, Eagle Express removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on the basis of diversity of citizenship in that: Plaintiff was named administrator of the estate by the probate court of Butler County, Ohio and the decedent was at the time of the accident a citizen of the State of Ohio; Eagle Express is an Illinois corporation with a principal place of business in South Holland, Illinois; Jones is a citizen of the State of New Jersey;[3] and the amount in controversy, based on the death of the decedent, exceeded the sum of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 5-8, 13-15.)

         On April 7, 2017, Defendants filed a motion (ECF No. 3) to transfer the case to this district on the ground that the accident occurred in Washington County, Pennsylvania, [4] was investigated by Pennsylvania State Troopers and most of the other witnesses (EMTs, towing company, coroner, witnesses to the accident) are all located here. Plaintiff did not file an opposition to the motion. On September 5, 2017, Judge Shipp filed a Memorandum Order granting the motion and transferring the case to this Court (ECF No. 4).

         On June 4, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for leave to file a Third Party Complaint (ECF No. 37) and they attached the proposed Third Party Complaint to their motion (ECF No. 37 Ex. A.) The proposed Third Party Complaint indicates that Bakali, Nyazee and Kahn were traveling back from New York, where they had attended a wedding, in a rental car that was rented by Zarqa Nyazee (the mother of Shamaas Nyazee), that the three men were in a “Joint Venture” for this purpose, that they decided to travel back from the wedding without taking adequate time to sleep, and that Zarqa Nyazee was the only individual permitted to drive the rental car. In Count I, Defendants seek to hold Shamaas Nyazee liable for his negligence in the “Joint Venture” and in Count II, they seek to hold Daoud Kahn liable for his negligence. Count III seeks to hold Zarqa Nyazee liable under a theory of “negligent entrustment.” On June 18, 2018, Plaintiff filed a brief in opposition (ECF No. 44).

         Standard for Third-Party Joinder

         Rule 14 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:

A defending party may, as third-party plaintiff, serve a summons and complaint on a nonparty who is or may be liable to it for all or part of the claim against it. But the third-party plaintiff must, by motion, obtain the court's leave if it files the ...

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