Mileski v. MSC Indus. Direct Co., Inc – Case Brief Summary (New York)

Mileski v. MSC Indus. Direct Co., Inc., 138 AD3d 797, 30 N.Y.S.3d 159 (2d Dept. 2016), concerned leave to amend the complaint to add as defendants the affiliates of the named defendant.

In Mileski, the estate of a worker, who was injured and died from using an allegedly defective lathe, brought an action against the lathe manufacturer, which, in turn, impleaded the decedent's employer.

In the course of litigation, the decedent's employer produced its president and co-owner for a pretrial deposition, at which he testified that three other corporations owned solely by him also operated in the same location as the decedent's employer and had access to the same lathe.

Based on that pretrial testimony, the decedent's estate asked the motion court for leave to amend the complaint to add the president/co-owner and his three other corporations as defendants.

The motion court granted leave to amend pursuant to CPLR §203 (b) and (c), which codified the relation-back doctrine.

On appeal, the Second Department reversed and denied leave to amend. In so ruling, the Second Department cautioned that the application of the relation-back doctrine must be tempered by the following limitations:

"Defendants are not united in interest if there is a possibility that the new party could have a different defense than the original party. In a negligence action, the defenses available to two defendants will be identical, and thus their interests will be united, only where one is vicariously liable for the acts of the other. The fact that two defendants may share resources such as office space and employees is not dispositive. They must also share exactly the same jural relationship in the subject action" (Mileski, 138 AD3d at 800.)