In Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. of Mason County v. Stove Builder Int’l, 2019 U.S. Dist. Lexis 46993 (E.D. Ky.), the United States District Court for the Northern Division of the Eastern District of Kentucky, by adopting a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendations, see Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Stove Builder, Int’l, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48103 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 11, 2019), considered whether to allow the defendants to file a third-party complaint against the plaintiff’s insureds-subrogors. Finding that the defendants could not pursue contribution claims against the plaintiff’s insureds-subrogors, the court denied the defendant’s motion to file a third-party complaint.
The underlying subrogation action involved allegations of strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty against a pellet heater manufacturer and the retailer who sold the heater. The claims arose from a fire allegedly originating from the heater, which spread to the insureds-subrogors’ home causing property damage, along with consequential damages. Pursuant to the applicable insurance policy, the insureds-subrogors’ insurer issued payments to its insureds-subrogors. Thereafter, the insurer filed suit against the heater manufacturer and retailer.
The defendants filed a motion for leave to file a third-party complaint against the plaintiff’s insureds-subrogors, seeking to assert a contribution claim. The defendants alleged that the insureds-subrogors failed to properly install and maintain the pellet heater. The defendants also sought a jury instruction that would permit the jury to apportion fault to the insureds-subrogors, resulting in a reduction of the plaintiff’s recovery. The court looked to federal procedural law, but Kentucky substantive law to decide the defendants’ motion.