Truckweld Equip. Co. v. Swenson Trucking & Excavation, Inc
In Truckweld Equip. Co. v. Swenson Trucking & Excavation, Inc., 649 P.2d 234 (Alaska 1982), the insured, Swenson Trucking & Excavating ("Swenson"), brought suit for damages to its truck caused Truckweld Equipment Company ("Truckweld").
It sought to recover the entire amount of damages, even though the insured was partially compensated by its own insurer, Insurance company of America ("INA").
Although INA had previously attempted to pursue its subrogation interest separately, it agreed to be represented by Swenson.
Prior to trial, Truckweld unsuccessfully moved to add INA as a real party in interest under state rules. At trial, a jury found in favor of Truckweld. Thereafter, Truckweld moved for costs and attorney's fees from both INA and Swenson.
After Truckweld was awarded fees, Swenson appealed, and Truckweld cross-appealed. It argued that INA should have been joined and that INA was bound by the litigation.
The Alaska Supreme Court noted that those cases that have declined to follow Aetna Casualty "looked for a 'substantial risk' of multiple litigation as a condition of joinder." Id. at 237.
Nonetheless, the court in Truckweld was concerned with the "tyranny of the old labels" and the need to "solve each problem" that is unique to the particular case. Id. at 238.
Additionally, it sought to avoid the use of "sham plaintiffs", id. at 238, and expressly rejected the notion of "abstract claims of prejudice resulting from the jury's knowledge of partial coverage . . ." Id. at 238 n. 4.
It added: "Insurance is a widely accepted fact of life." Id.
Further, the court said:
We think...that Chief Justice Vinson in Aetna Casualty articulated the proper rule in Aetna, and we hold that had appropriate procedures been followed, INA should have been joined. The fact that INA is bound and cannot litigate its claim a second time eliminates only one concern. The policy against use or sham plaintiffs reflected in Rule 17(a) remains unchanged. "The pleadings should be made to reveal and assert the actual interest of the plaintiff, and to indicate the interest of any others in the claim." Id. at 238.