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Audra S. Martin v CSX Transportation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Gordon   
Saturday, 24 October 2009 23:42
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Case Name: Audra S. Martin v CSX Transportation Inc.
Date Decided: October 13, 2009

Court:
U.S.D.C. Northern District of Ohio
Judge:
Judge Katz
Citation: 2009 WL 3321378 (N.D.Ohio)

Background:
Plaintiff, Audra Martin (“Martin”), filed an action under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”) against defendant CSX Transportation Inc (“CSX”). Martin alleged she was injured on December 13, 2003 while working for CSX.

Martine contended that while she was yardmaster for CSX, a battery used to power the yard’s power supply began to leak and released fumes causing Martin to lose consciousness, fall, and sustain injuries.

CSX filed an Answer denying liability, and subsequently filed a third-party complaint against APCC, the battery manufacturer. CSX and Martin eventually settled their disputes, and APCC and B&B Battery filed for partial summary judgment against CSX.

Issue:
Did the Court grant APCC and B&B’s motions for partial summary judgment holding them not liable for injuries sustained by Martin?

Held:
Previously, this Court denied APCC and B&B’s argument that there were entitled to summary judgment because CSX’s third-party complaint did not plead specifically that the settlement agreement between CSX and Martin extinguished CSX’s liability. Moreover, this Court rejected the argument that the third-party defendants were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because the statute of limitations precluded Martin’s underlying claims against them.

The third-party defendants, B&B and APCC, contended that they were entitled to summary judgment on CSX’s contribution claims asserted in their third-party complaint pursuant to Ohio Rev. Cod §2307.25(B). The Code provides that: “a tortfeasor who enters into a settlement with a claimant is not entitled to contribution from another tortfeasor who’s liability for the injury or loss to person…is not extinguished by the settlement, or in respect to any amount paid in the settlement in excess of what is reasonable”.

CSX countered by arguing that because Third-party defendants’ liability was extinguished by the statute, the statute of limitations inapplicable. CSX contended the statute should be read in a way not supported by any authority.

Accordingly this Court granted APCC and B&B’s motion for partial summary judgment.

Comment:
The state statute in play provided that if a tortfeasor enters into a settlement with a claimant then they are not entitled to contribution from another tortfeasor whose liability for the injury is not extinguished by the settlement. That is, if the settlement fails to mention releasing third-party defendants, than they will likely be off the hook for contribution.

Steve Gordon

 
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