A Pennsylvania federal court recently ruled that a group of defendant insurers in an asbestos coverage case would not be permitted to join a number of additional insurers as defendants in the action as their request for joinder was untimely. Continental Cas. Co. v. Peerless Indus. Inc., Civ. No. 06-4621 (E.D.Pa., August 29, 2008).

The insurer of a boiler manufacturer provided defense and indemnity to its insured in connection with a number of asbestos-related claims. The insurer then brought a declaratory judgment action against its insured and three other insurers that had sold primary and excess policies to the insured, seeking a declaration that its policy was exhausted and that it was entitled to contribution or indemnity from the other insurers. The insured, in turn, cross-claimed against the defendant insurers, seeking coverage. The three insurer defendants then requested leave to file a third-party complaint against seven additional insurers that allegedly also sold policies to the insured.

The court denied the request to allow a third party complaint adding seven new defendants as untimely, noting that nine months had passed between the complaint and the three defendant insurers’ answers, and another six months had passed between the answers and the request for leave to file a third-party complaint. In the court’s opinion, granting the request would lead to an extension of discovery, additional costs for the plaintiff, and further delay for the court. Notably, the Court’s analysis of the defendant insurers’ arguments indicates that the defendant insurers have the right to now file separate contribution/indemnity actions against the seven additional insurers.

For a complete copy of the court’s decision, please click here.