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Scheinman v. Martin's Bulk Milk Service

September 9, 2010

MURRAY SCHEINMAN, PLENARY GUARDIAN OF THE ESTATE AND PERSON OF JEFFREY J. SCHEINMAN, A DISABLED PERSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MARTIN'S BULK MILK SERVICE, INC., SAMUEL G. FRANKE, CSX INTERMODAL, INC., INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY AND OVERNITE EXPRESS, INC. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Susan E. Cox, Magistrate Judge

Honorable John A. Nordberg

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The plaintiff, Murray Scheinman ("Plaintiff"), has charged multiple defendants with negligence in connection to an automobile accident that occurred on July 3, 2008 in Highland Park, Illinois. In the approximately two years that have passed since the accident, plaintiff has amended his complaint three times to include a total of five defendants. At issue now is plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend his Third Amended Complaint and to Join Additional Parties. Plaintiff seeks leave to amend on two grounds: 1) to add additional allegations regarding defendants International Paper Company ("IPC"), Universal Am Cam, Ltd. ("UACL"), and Overnite Express ("Overnite Express"), and 2) to add additional parties Celtic Cartage, Inc. ("Celtic Cartage"), Celtic Express, Inc. ("Celtic Express"), Trac Leasing, Inc. ("Trac"), Overnite Logisitics, Inc. ("Overnite Logistics"), OX LLC ("OX"), and UACL. The addition of two of these new defendants - Celtic Cartage and Celtic Express- would, however, destroy diversity jurisdiction. For the reasons discussed herein, the motion for leave to amend is granted in part and denied in part, as follows: plaintiff's request to add parties UACL, Overnite Logistics and OX, and his request to add allegations against UACL and Overnite Express, are granted; however, plaintiff's request to add Celtic Cartage, Celtic Express and Trac and to add allegations against IPC is denied [dkt 73].

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The allegations in this case appear straightforward at first blush. On July 3, 2008, Jeffrey J. Scheinman ("J. Scheinman") drove his car in a northbound direction on Skokie Valley Road at or near its intersection with Half Day Road in Highland Park, Illinois.*fn1 At the same time, defendant Samuel Franke ("Franke") drove a tractor trailer truck in the same direction on Skokie Valley Road at or near the intersection with Half Day Road.*fn2 Plaintiff alleges that Franke drove the truck in a negligent manner, causing it to collide with J. Scheinman's car, which resulted in serious injuries.*fn3 Plaintiff has brought charges of negligence against multiple defendants in his capacity as plenary guardian of the estate and person of J. Scheinman, who is now disabled as a result of the collision.*fn4

A. Procedural History

The case has proceeded in a confusing and complicated manner. On July 7, 2008, plaintiff filed suit against Franke and his employer, Martin's Bulk Milk Service, Inc. ("Martin's"), in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois.*fn5 Defendants Martin's and Franke filed a motion to transfer to Lake County based on Forum Non Conveniens on August 7, 2008.*fn6 During the course of discovery, plaintiff allegedly learned of other parties involved in the incident.*fn7 Plaintiff amended his original complaint three times to add additional parties. CSX Intermodal, Inc. ("CSXI") was added on November 11, 2008, IPC was added on July 23, 2009, and Overnite Express was added on August 19, 2009 (because UACL has appeared on behalf of Overnite Express, we will refer to this party as "UACL/Overnite Express").*fn8 On August 28, 2009, defendants filed a joint notice of removal to federal court, which was granted.*fn9

On September 4, 2009, IPC and UACL/Overnite Express filed a motion to dismiss the third amended complaint, which had named them as defendants.*fn10 On September 30, 2009, plaintiff filed a motion to modify the briefing schedule and conduct relevant discovery*fn11 and on October 5, defendants IPC and Overnite Express filed their opposition.*fn12 On October 7, 2009, the district court referred discovery supervision and the motion to set a briefing schedule here.*fn13 On October 27, the parties appeared before us for an initial status hearing. During this status hearing, we struck the motion to dismiss the third amended complaint filed by IPC and UACL/Overnite Express to allow plaintiff to conduct relevant discovery, as requested, but we limited plaintiff to discovery related only to the inter-relationships of the parties involved in the case.*fn14 Then, in a status hearing held on November 30, 2009, we allowed additional discovery with respect to the alleged agency or apparent agency relationship between Franke and defendants IPC and UACL/Overnite Express.*fn15

In an oral motion on January 25, 2010, plaintiff claimed that he had gathered information through that limited discovery that revealed a complicated relationship between the various named defendants.*fn16 Plaintiff then advised the court that he wished to add additional parties as defendants, with no opposition from defendants.*fn17 We granted plaintiff's oral motion for leave to file an amended complaint at that time.*fn18 On February 1, 2010, plaintiff filed his fourth amended complaint.*fn19 The fourth amended complaint added allegations regarding the agency relationship existing between defendant Franke and defendants IPC and UACL/Overnite Express, and six additional parties were added: Celtic Cartage, Celtic Express, Trac, UACL, OX and Overnite Logistics.*fn20

On February 25, 2010, defendants Franke, Martin's and CSXI filed their answers to the fourth amended complaint.*fn21 Defendants IPC and UACL/Overnite Express responded by filing a motion to strike this Court's order granting plaintiff leave to amend the third amended complaint or, alternatively, a motion to dismiss the fourth amended complaint for futility.*fn22 On March 4, 2010, we ordered plaintiff to respond and plaintiff did so by filing two motions: a motion to remand to state court on the basis of lack of diversity jurisdiction*fn23 and a motion to stay discovery and motion practice pending a ruling on the motion to remand.*fn24 Defendants IPC and UACL/Overnite Express filed their opposition to both motions and on April 1, 2010, we vacated the fourth amended complaint, learning for the first time that the addition of potential defendants Celtic Cartage and Celtic Express would destroy diversity jurisdiction.*fn25 Plaintiff was given leave to file a motion for leave to amend the third amended complaint and all parties were asked to file written briefs regarding whether the amendment should be allowed.*fn26 The court has postponed a decision on the motion to remand until after we decide the motion for leave to amend.*fn27

B. The Parties

In addition to the complicated nature of the proceedings, there are various named parties who are allegedly connected to the incident. At the time of the third amended complaint, there were five named defendants: Martin's, Franke, CSXI, IPC and UACL/Overnite Express. Plaintiff did not attach a proposed fourth amended complaint to his motion for leave to amend. For this reason, we will use his previously vacated fourth amended complaint in determining the specific allegations plaintiff intends to claim against each party in his new complaint.

Martin's is a corporation engaged in the business of truck transportation and delivery of milk products in and throughout Cook County, Illinois.*fn28 Franke is a truck driver who transports products in Cook County and is an employee of Martin's.*fn29 At the time of the accident in question, Franke was driving the truck that allegedly rear-ended J. Scheinman's car, resulting in serious injuries.*fn30

Plaintiff alleges that Martin's and Franke "owned, operated, managed, maintained and/or controlled" the truck in such a way as to cause it to collide with J. Scheinman.*fn31 As the basis for these negligence allegations, plaintiff claims that Franke did not keep a proper lookout, proceeded at an unsafe speed, did not give audible warning when necessary and failed to maintain a proper distance from J. Scheinman.*fn32 Plaintiff demands judgment against both Martin's and Franke in the amount of $50,000.00.*fn33

CSXI is a corporation engaged in truck transportation of consumer goods in and throughout Cook County.*fn34 Plaintiff alleges that Franke is a duly authorized employee, agent or apparent agent of CSXI and was acting within the scope of that employment or agency when he collided with J. Scheinman.*fn35 Plaintiff further alleges that on July 3, 2008, Franke delivered a load of goods to CSXI's facility in Bedford Park and was then provided with a CSXI container to transport other products.*fn36 Due to the alleged employment or agency relationship existing between Franke and CSXI, plaintiff claims that the negligence of Franke may be imputed to CSXI and makes a demand of $50,000.00 against CSXI.*fn37

IPC is a corporation engaged in the business of selling paper and packaging products in and throughout Cook County.*fn38 As with CSXI, plaintiff alleges that Franke is a duly authorized employee, agent or apparent agent of IPC and was acting within the scope of that employment or agency when he collided with J. Scheinman.*fn39 Further, plaintiff claims that Franke drove the truck with the CSXI trailer to IPC's facility in Hammond, Indiana and loaded the trailer with IPC's paper products.*fn40 IPC then allegedly requested, directed, supervised and instructed Franke to drive the truck through Highland Park, which is where he collided with J. Scheinman.*fn41 For these reasons, plaintiff claims that the negligence of Franke may also be assigned to IPC and similarly makes a demand of $50,000.00 against IPC.*fn42

UACL/Overnite Express is a corporation engaged in the business of interstate transportation of consumer goods in and throughout Cook County.*fn43 Before the accident at issue, UACL (also a corporation engaged in interstate transportation) became the successor corporation to Overnite Express.*fn44 UACL has voluntarily appeared as a party throughout the proceedings of this case and has even filed motions with this Court, though it was never (before now) formally named as a defendant.*fn45 Plaintiff alleges that UACL/Overnite Express directed and requested that Franke (as its employee, agent or apparent agent) transport IPC's products from Hammond to various locations in Minnesota.*fn46 Plaintiff claims that pursuant to these directions, Franke drove through Highland Park, where he collided with J. Scheinman.*fn47 For these reasons, plaintiff claims that the negligence of Franke may also be assigned to UACL/Overnite Express and makes a demand of $50,000.00 against UACL/Overnite Express.*fn48

We will now overview the role of the six potential new defendants that plaintiff seeks to add in his fourth amended complaint: Celtic Cartage, Celtic Express, Trac, Overnite Logistics, OX and UACL. Potential defendants Overnite Logistics and OX are corporations that were acquired by UACL through the same agreement in which UACL acquired Overnite Express.*fn49 Both are corporations that are engaged in the business of interstate transportation of consumer goods.*fn50

Plaintiff makes the exact same allegations against Overnite Logistics and OX as he makes against UACL/Overnite Express: that Franke is the employee, agent or apparent agent of these corporations and that these corporations organized, coordinated, authorized and arranged the transportation of IPC's goods through Highland Park.*fn51 As such, plaintiff claims Franke's negligence may be imputed to them. Plaintiff seeks $50,000.00 in damages against both Overnite Logistics and OX.*fn52

Potential defendants Celtic Cartage and Celtic Express are corporations engaged in the business of truck transportation of consumer goods in and throughout Cook County.*fn53 As with the other named parties in this action, plaintiff claims that Franke is the employee, agent or apparent agent of both corporations.*fn54 Plaintiff claims that on or before July 3, 2008, these corporations leased, interchanged, provided and authorized Franke, Martin's, CSXI and IPC to use the CSXI container and a chassis to transport IPC's paper products from Indiana to Minnesota.*fn55 In addition to Franke's alleged negligence in colliding with J. Scheinman, plaintiff claims that Celtic Cartage and Celtic Express were ...


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