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Rhode Island Federal District Court Denies Motion To Assert Third-Party Claim As Untimely

Rhode Island's federal district court has denied plaintiff's motion filed after the close of fact discovery to assert a third-party claim with respect to defendant's counterclaim. The court held the motion was untimely and the proposed third-party complaint deficient in that it was unclear how the proposed claims related to the counterclaim.

Plaintiff filed suit alleging breach of warranty claims respecting "equipment" made by defendants and sold to plaintiff. One defendant counterclaimed alleging plaintiff had failed to pay for other goods. Plaintiff denied failure to pay and essentially asserted its breach of warranty claims as an offset. The parties initiated discovery and settlement negotiations. The latter ultimately resulted in the dismissal of plaintiff's claims. Two weeks after fact discovery closed, plaintiff filed its motion to assert a third-party claim respecting the counterclaim.

The court said the counterclaim was relatively straightforward assertion that defendant had sold and delivered goods to plaintiff and that plaintiff had not paid for them. The proposed third-party complaint alleged that third-party defendant induced plaintiff to purchase goods made by the third-party defendant and that the third-party defendant had breached various warranties, etc., with respect to those goods.

The court held that the motion to assert the third-party complaint was untimely because it was filed after the close of fact discovery. Moreover, whether the third-party claims relate to the counterclaim was "oblique at best." There is no explicit connection stated between the goods for which defendant seeks payment and the goods identified in the third-party complaint. The court said it might have given plaintiff an opportunity to amend the proposed third-party complaint except that it had been served so late. Allowing the third-party claim would unduly delay defendant's relatively simple claim. Accordingly, the motion was denied.

Gogocast, Inc. v. LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc., C.A. No. 12-524ML, slip opinion (D.R.I. Nov. 27, 2013)

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