Travelers Indemnity Company of America et al v. Waters Truck & Tractor Co., Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell on 10/21/2013 granting 40 Third-party Defendant Navistar, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss. Defendant Waters Truck & Tractor Co., Inc.'s contribution claim is hereby DISMISSED. cc: Counsel (CDR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
BOWLING GREEN DIVISION
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:12-CV-00126-TBR
TRAVELERS INDEMNITY COMPANY OF AMERICA, et al.
WATERS TRUCK & TRACTOR CO., INC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court upon Third-party Defendant Navistar Inc.’s
Motion to Dismiss. (Docket No. 40.) Defendant/Third-party Plaintiff Waters Truck &
Tractor Co., Inc., has not responded in opposition, and the time to do so now has
passed. Accordingly, this matter is now ripe for adjudication.
This action arises out of a tractor fire that occurred on September 11, 2010.
Plaintiffs Travelers Indemnity Company of America and Travelers Property & Casualty
Company of America (Travelers) filed their Complaint against Defendant/Third-party
Plaintiff Waters Truck & Tractor Co., Inc. (Waters), on July 20, 2012. (Docket No. 1.)
Travelers did not file suit against Third-party Defendant Navistar, Inc. (Navistar).
Then, on July 17, 2013, Waters filed its Third-party Complaint against Navistar,
seeking indemnity and contribution, as well as to have fault apportioned against
Navistar. (Docket No. 30, at 4.) Waters claims that if the subject fire originated as
alleged by Plaintiffs, “the fire was caused or brought about by [Navistar’s] negligent
design and/or engineering of the recall kit that it provided to Waters, which negligence
Page 1 of 4
caused and/or contributed to the damages alleged in [Traveler’s] complaint.” (Docket
No. 30, at 3-4.) Navistar now moves to dismiss Waters’ claim for contribution, 1
arguing that “(1) a claim for contribution no longer exists under Kentucky law and (2)
even if it did, Waters has no such claim because Navistar cannot be directly liable to
Plaintiff.” (Docket No. 40, at 2.)
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that pleadings, including
complaints, contain a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). A complaint may be attacked for failure “to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When
considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court will presume that all the factual
allegations in the complaint are true and will draw all reasonable inferences in favor of
the nonmoving party. Total Benefits Planning Agency v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue
Shield, 552 F.3d 430, 434 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Great Lakes Steel v. Deggendorf, 716
F.2d 1101, 1105 (6th Cir. 1983)). “The court need not, however, accept unwarranted
factual inferences.” Id. (citing Morgan v. Church’s Fried Chicken, 829 F.2d 10, 12 (6th
Even though a “complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does
not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of
his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
Navistar’s instant Motion addresses itself only to Waters’ claim for contribution. (See Docket
No. 40, at 1 n.1.) Accordingly, the Court makes no ruling at this time relative to Water’s indemnity
Page 2 of 4
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).
Instead, the plaintiff’s “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the
assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).”
Id. (citations omitted). That is, a complaint must contain enough facts “to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id. at 570. A claim becomes plausible “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). If, from the well-pleaded facts, the court
cannot “infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged—
but has not ‘show[n]’—‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.’” Id. at 679 (quoting Fed.
R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). “[O]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss.” Id.
A defendant, as a third-party plaintiff, may bring into a case a third party “who is
or may be liable to it for all or part of the claim against it.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 14(a)(1).
Historically, the right to contribution arose when two or more joint tortfeasors awere
guilty of concurrent negligence of substantially the same character which converged to
cause the plaintiff's damages. In that scenario, the tortfeasors are said to be “in pari
delicto.” Lexington Country Club v. Stevenson, 390 S.W.2d 137, 143 (Ky. 1965). The
common law rule was that each joint tortfeasor was entirely responsible for the
plaintiff's single indivisible injury “because it was thought that the injury could not be
divided into parts to determine the responsibility of each negligent actor.” Dix & Assocs.
Pipeline Contractors, Inc. v. Key, 799 S.W.2d 24, 27 (Ky. 1990). However, under
Page 3 of 4
Kentucky law, liability among joint tortfeasors no longer is joint and several, but now is
several only. Degener v. Hall Contracting Corp., 27 S.W.3d 775, 779 (Ky. 2000)
(referencing Dix, 799 S.W.2d at 27). As a result, one tortfeasor will not be required to
pay more than its share of apportioned damages. Javins v. Five Star Freight Co., 2009
WL 465043, at *3 (W.D. Ky. Feb. 24, 2009). It follows that “the apportionment of
causation and the requirement of several liability obviates any claim for contribution
among joint tortfeasors whose respective liabilities are determined in the original
action.” Degener, 27 S.W.3d at 779. Therefore, the Court finds that Waters cannot be
entitled to contribution from Navistar because Waters’ tort liability is limited to the
damages found to be caused by Waters. See Javins, 2009 WL 465043, at *3 (citing
Kevin Tucker & Assoc., Inc. v. Scott & Ritter, Inc., 842 S.W.2d 873, 874 (Ky. Ct. App.
1992)). A proper apportionment instruction will be given at trial is applicable.
Because Navistar’s argument relative to Waters’ contribution claim is
dispositive, the Court need not address Navistar’s alternative argument for dismissal.
Accordingly, having considered Navistar’s Motion to Dismiss and being otherwise
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Third-party Defendant Navistar, Inc.’s
Motion to Dismiss, (Docket No. 40), is GRANTED. Defendant Waters Truck &
Tractor Co., Inc.’s contribution claim is hereby DISMISSED.
October 21, 2013
Page 4 of 4
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?