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Martin v. Lafon Nursing Facility of the Holy Family, Inc., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85956 (E.D. La. 2007)

This is a class action case filed against a nursing home following Hurricane Katrina. The magistrate denied Defendant’s motion to implead the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a third-party defendant, finding they could not be liable. Defendants asked the District Court to set aside the magistrate’s ruling.

In reviewing the rules, the Court found that a third-party complaint is not proper pursuant to Rule 14 “if the defendant cannot show a basis for the third-party defendant’s liability to the defendant (also known as the third-party plaintiff).” Thus, the Magistrate was correct in first examining the alleged basis for liability. The court found that the Army Corp of Engineers would not be constructively liable to Defendant under a strict liability claim because the law had changed and premises liability claims sound only in negligence. Further, it would not be secondarily liable to Defendant because Louisiana’s comparative fault rules only require a Defendant to pay that proportion of damages for which it is responsible.

Decided November 20, 2007

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