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Erkins v. Case Power & Equipment Co.

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
164 F.R.D. 31 (D.N.J. 1995)



T.A. Fitzpatrick Associates, Inc. (Fitzpatrick) was contracted to perform a construction project. Fitzpatrick then accepted ECRACOM’s bid to perform some of the work. ECRACOM, in turn, subcontracted Thomas J. O’Beirne & Company (O’Beirne) to perform a portion of its contract. On May 1, 1992, the decedent was fatally injured on the job when he fell out of the bucket of a backhoe and was crushed by its wheels. Case Power Equipment Corporation (Case)(defendant) manufactured the backhoe. Erkins (plaintiff), the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, sued Case on a strict products liability theory on the ground that Case failed to provide sufficient warnings of the risks of riding in the backhoe’s bucket. Case denied liability on the ground that the decedent was injured due to his own negligence. Case moved the court for permission to file third-party complaints against Fitzpatrick and ECRACOM for contribution based on their respective negligence, should Case be held liable. Fitzpatrick and ECRACOM objected to impleader on the ground that Case’s negligence claims are irrelevant to Erkins’s strict liability claim.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Pisano, J.)

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