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. . . .
Price v. CTB, Inc.
Plaintiff Price, a chicken farmer, hired defendant Latco to build a new chicken house. Alleging that the structure was defective, plaintiff sued multiple defendants, including Latco. Latco filed a third-party complaint against ITW, alleging that ITW defectively designed the nails used in the construction.
Was Latco allowed to file a third-party claim against ITW?
Third-Party Plaintiff's Argument:
ITW is the prototypical third-party defendant, as it can be found liable for the warranty surrounding its products if Latco is found liable for faulty construction.
Derivative liability is just a shift in the overall responsibility of the alleged defects.
Third-Party Defendant's Argument:
As Rule 14 is a procedural law, it can only be applied when there is a substantive right to indemnity.
Even though it may arise out of the same general set of facts as the main claim, a third party claim will not be permitted when it is based upon a separate and independent claim. Rather, the third party liability must in some way be derivative of the original claim; a third party may be impleaded only when the original defendant is trying to pass all or part of the liability onto that third party.
ITW accurately states the law, and Alabama does not recognize a right to contribution. However, It does recognize that a manufacturer of a product has impliedly agreed to indemnify the seller when he has to pay a judgment but the manufacturer is responsible instead of him.
Alabama law has not clarified the specifics of this law, but it is similar to Illinois's, which would permit a claim in this case should Latco be found liable. Therefore, Alabama law will. This is a legal basis upon which to implead ITW.
Latco had a valid basis to implead ITW. ITW's motion to dismiss denied.