Summary Judgment Obtained in Wrongful Death Case

Gregg Thornton, Jillian House and Betsy Catron obtained summary judgment in their case, Nicole McGuffey, as Administratrix of the Estate of Jonathan McGuffey, et. al. v. Ronald Hamilton, Jason Lamb, Select Diesel Repair of Donato Enterprises, LLC. et. al., before Judge Reynolds in Fayette Circuit Court. Plaintiff brought wrongful death claims against the above-listed Defendants due to maintenance issues and the operation of a commercial tractor-trailer. Defendant Jason Lamb had picked up Hamilton’s tractor-trailer from Select Diesel on the morning of the accident. Select Diesel had changed the oil and replaced the oil filter. As Lamb was completing his daily haul route, he heard an alarm that indicated he was losing oil pressure. He safely maneuvered the tractor-trailer out of the roadway and placed out warning cones. The fire department came and secured the scene. Once the scene was secured, the Plaintiff drove by the tractor-trailer on his moped and made a left hand turn onto a side street. His moped slipped in oil and Plaintiff died two weeks later from an aortic dissection. Plaintiff entered into a confidential settlement with Select Diesel early into the case and focused its theory of liability solely against Lamb and Hamilton. Defendants had previously been granted partial summary judgment on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations claims against them. As trial was approaching, Defendants filed a Motion to Compel the confidential settlement agreement between the Plaintiff and Select Diesel. This motion was granted and the confidential release showed that the Plaintiff obligated herself to indemnify and hold harmless Select Diesel for all claims which were or could have been raised against them by any other party to the action arising from the subject incident. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was precluded from any recovery against Hamilton and Lamb because they are entitled to seek indemnity against Select Diesel, and Select Diesel has a binding contractual agreement from Plaintiff indemnifying and holding harmless Select Diesel against any liability to Hamilton and Lamb. Accordingly, Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s indemnification of Select Diesel precludes any claim or award against Hamilton Lamb based on principles of circular indemnity. Judge Reynolds ruled in the Defendants’ favor and found that Plaintiff had settled all of her claims based on the settlement release.

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