United States District Court, D. New Mexico
CHRIS LUCERO, as Personal Representative of the Estate of MARCO ANTONIO SANCHEZ, Plaintiffs,
CARLSBAD MEDICAL CENTER, LLC, COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., and JOHN DOES 1-10, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR LEAVE OF COURT TO ADD THIRD-PARTY
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants'
Motion for Leave of Court to Add Third-Party Defendants.
[Doc. 41, filed January 2, 2019]. Upon reviewing the
parties' briefs and applicable law, the motion is
December 28, 2017, Plaintiff filed a complaint in state court
for Wrongful Death and Medical Negligence against Carlsbad
Medical Center, LLC and Community Health Systems, Inc.
Plaintiff claims that Defendants were negligent and
vicariously liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior
for the negligent acts of all emergency room healthcare
providers, including Andrew Pearson, M.D., for the death of
Marco Sanchez. Defendants then removed the case to federal
court on February 14, 2018 and filed an answer to the
complaint on February 21, 2018.
time of Mr. Sanchez's death, Dr. Pearson was employed by
Pegasus Emergency Management Services, LLC,
(“Pegasus”), which, according to Defendants, now
goes by the name of Island Medical LOE, LLC, or Island
Medical PEM, LLC. The present motion was filed on January 2,
2019, which seeks to add Dr. Pearson, Island Medical LOE,
LLC, Island Medical PEM, LLC, and Pegasus as third-party
defendants because they will seek indemnification from them
if they are held to be liable for Plaintiff's claims.
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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a)(1). The defendant must do so within 14
days of filing its original answer. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
14(a)(1). If a defendant wishes to add a third-party
defendant, also known as impleader, more than 14 days after
serving its original answer, it must obtain the Court's
leave. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(a)(1).
purpose of Rule 14 was to accomplish in one proceeding the
adjudication of the rights of all persons concerned in the
controversy and to prevent the necessity of trying several
related claims in different lawsuits.” United
States v. Acord, 209 F.2d 709, 712 (10th Cir.),
cert. denied, 347 U.S. 975, 74 (1954). “The
rule should be liberally construed to effectuate its intended
purposes.” Id. “The granting or denial
of leave of a defendant to prosecute a third-party proceeding
under Rule 14 rests in the sound discretion of the trial
rule allows a defendant to bring in parties if liability may
be passed on to the impleaded third-party.” Admin.
Comm. of Wal-Mart Assocs. Health & Welfare Plan v.
Willard, 216 F.R.D. 511, 514 (D. Kan. 2003). “The
burden of proving that impleader is proper rests on the
[defendant].” Id. (citation omitted).
“However, even if the [defendant] shows that either
requirement of derivative liability or dependence of claims
is met, it is within the court's discretion to grant or
deny a motion for impleader.” Id.
must consider several factors, such as delay, to determine
whether a party may be impleaded after the 14-day period.
See Fraley v. Worthington, 64 F.R.D. 726, 729 (D.
Wyo. 1974). “Although delay in and of itself will not
bar impleader, it is one factor to be considered by the Court
in exercising its discretion whether to grant or deny the
motion.” Id. (citing Goodhart v. United
States Lines Company, 26 F.R.D. 163 (S.D.N.Y.1960)).
argue that they can add Dr. Pearson and his employer to the
lawsuit because New Mexico recognizes the right to indemnify,
and if Defendants are found liable, they will seek
indemnification from Dr. Pearson and his employer. Defendants
allege that Dr. Pearson is not employed by them but rather is
a contractor employed by Pegasus. While true that Defendants
can seek indemnification against Dr. Pearson and his
employer, and could potentially be added as third-party
defendants to this lawsuit, the Court finds no justification
in Defendants delay to add the third-party defendants to this
suit, and it does not find their addition necessary to the
resolution of this case.
Pearson is clearly named in the factual allegations of the
state-court complaint, and Plaintiff asserts several
allegations that could potentially point towards the
liability of Dr. Pearson and other hospital staff. [Doc. 41
at 14, ¶¶ 15-17, 35]. Defendants could have easily
ascertained that Dr. Pearson could be a potential defendant
in this lawsuit from the time this lawsuit was filed in state
court, from the time of removal to federal court, or as
required by Rule 14, from the time Defendants filed their
answer to the original complaint in federal court. Instead,
Defendants waited nearly 11 months from the time of filing
their answer to add the third-party defendants. Defendants do
not guide the Court to any justifications but merely
ascertain that they are allowed to seek indemnification under
New Mexico law. See Ahern v. Gaussoin, 104 F.R.D.
37, 41-42 (impleader denied for failure to justify 10-month
delay and because impleader would complicate trial); cf.
Jagielski v. Package Mach. Co., 93 F.R.D. 431, 432 (E.D.
Pa. 1984) (delay acceptable given late notice of possible
liability of third parties).
Court also finds that the addition of the third-party
defendants is not necessary for the resolution of the case
under the theory of respondeat superior that Plaintiff is
asserting in the complaint. See Houghland v. Grant,1995-NMCA-005, ¶ 25, 119 N.M. 422 (holding that
contracted physicians are apparent agents of a hospital that
holds itself out as an emergency care provider inducing
patients to rely on the hospital for emergency care, and
hospital is liable under respondeat superior). Also,
Defendants could pursue indemnification at the end of this
action in a separate lawsuit. See UL LLC v. Space
Chariot, Inc.,250 F.Supp.3d 596, 606 (CD. ...