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Knight v. Ford Motor Co.

Decided: October 9, 1992.

ROBERT V. KNIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, ALLIED-SIGNAL, INC., CANADIAN FRAM LIMITED, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



Alley, J.s.c.

Alley

A. Introduction:

This products liability case is pending against Ford Motor Company, Allied-Signal, Inc., and the latter's purported subsidiary Canadian Fram Limited, which allegedly manufactured a coolant fan installed in a 1979 Ford Monarch. Plaintiff asserts that he was injured on December 3, 1990, because a portion of the coolant fan broke off and struck him. Ford states in its

answers to interrogatories that the coolant fan was manufactured by Canadian Fram. Plaintiff alleges that Allied-Signal is liable as the parent company of Canadian Fram. For the reasons discussed below, the court has determined that parties in this case seeking evidence from within Germany should proceed to do so in accordance with the Hague Evidence Convention.

B. Factual and Procedural Background:

Allied-Signal moved for summary judgment in September 1992, claiming that it and its subsidiaries and affiliates do not own any stock or assets in Canadian Fram, and that they did not own any when the action was commenced. Allied-Signal, through two independent subsidiaries, had held an interest in Canadian Fram, but maintained that those interests were sold in 1988 to Siemens Automotive Limited, an Ontario subsidiary of Siemens AG of Germany. Allied-Signal also contended that as a result of a complex series of transactions, Canadian Fram no longer existed as an active business entity by the time the action was commenced. Although it had not seen the fan, Allied-Signal admitted that it could have been manufactured by Canadian Fram. There was no indication in the summary judgment record as to when Allied-Signal acquired its interest in Canadian Fram.

The summary judgment record was unclear as to any correlation between the time of manufacture and the movant's ownership in Canadian Fram. There also was no clear indication whether there would be facts sufficient to pierce the corporate veil either for acts occurring while Allied-Signal owned an interest in Canadian Fram, or alternatively to establish successor liability.

The court accordingly denied summary judgment, without prejudice to renewal, to afford the parties in this case a reasonable opportunity through discovery to ascertain facts relevant to the summary judgment issues. Moreover, it directed

the parties seeking to gather that evidence to do so, to the extent the witnesses and other evidence are located in Germany, under the Hague Evidence Convention, and to proceed diligently to complete the discovery by February 1, 1993.

Plaintiff has now moved to join as defendants several additional parties, including Siemens AG, based in Germany. The motion is unopposed and will be granted, but the court typically imposes certain case management terms, which usually include accelerated discovery, as a condition of entering an order allowing joinder of new parties, so that the joinder will not unduly delay the preparation of a case for trial.*fn1

This opinion summarizes why the court has determined, now that Siemens AG is being named as a defendant, that the case management discovery terms customarily imposed when the joinder of a new defendant is allowed should in this case include a requirement that evidence to be taken in or ...


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