United States District Court for the Southern District of New York - 138 F.R.D. 53
In the 1991 case Gross v. Hanover Insurance Co., a man named Robert Gross sued Hanover Insurance Company for stolen jewelry. Hanover then requested to involve Anthony and Joseph Rizzo, the owner and employee of the store where the theft occurred, as third-party defendants according to Rule 14 (a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Hanover claimed that Joseph's negligence allowed the theft and that Anthony's negligence involved hiring Joseph, who had a cocaine problem. Gross disagreed with the addition of the Rizzos, but the court permitted their involvement. The court believed involving the Rizzos would help avoid multiple lawsuits and promote judicial economy.
The court balanced the benefits and drawbacks of including the Rizzos, finding it would not hinder the trial, confuse the jury, or harm Gross's rights. They also dismissed Gross's claim that Hanover's attempts were too unsure or too late.
This case matters because it shows how impleader, a procedural device, operates in federal courts. Impleader allows a defendant to involve a third party who may be responsible for the plaintiff's claim. It aims to achieve judicial economy, convenience, and fairness. Impleader serves various rules and is not necessarily automatic or unlimited but relies on factors like relevance, timeliness, and prejudice. The case demonstrates how courts may apply impleader to different claims involving multiple parties, such as theft or property loss insurance claims.
The Hanover Insurance Company has been granted permission to add Joseph Rizzo and Anthony Rizzo as third-party defendants in a case involving an insurance claim for the loss of jewelry worth $217,800 and $48,000. The jewelry was lost due to a theft that occurred at 3-R Jewelers, owned by Anthony Rizzo and where Joseph Rizzo was employed. The defendant alleges that Joseph was negligent in handling the jewels and that Anthony was negligent in hiring, retaining, and supervising Joseph. The police report includes statements from Anthony that Joseph had a cocaine habit and that he thought the habit was under control. Rule 14(a) allows a defendant to serve a summons and complaint on a third-party who may be liable to the third-party plaintiff for all or part of the plaintiff's claim against the third-party plaintiff. The district court has discretion in deciding whether to permit a third-party complaint and must balance the benefits of impleader against the potential prejudice to the plaintiff and third-party defendants. The defendant's proposed third-party claims arise from the same core of facts as the plaintiff's claim, and thus, allowing those claims to proceed in the same action would serve judicial economy.
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