United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
JUDY BOUCHILLON, Individually, and on behalf of the Statutory Wrongful Death Beneficiaries of Jim Bouchillon, Deceased; and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jim Bouchillon PLAINTIFF
SAME DEUTZ-FAHR, GROUP; SAME DEUTZ-FAHR NORTH AMERICA, INC.; DEUTZ AG; and SAME DEUTZ-FAHR DEUTSCHLAND, GMBH, d/b/a as SAME Deutz-Fahr Germany DEFENDANTS
M. BROWN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
products liability action is before the Court for allocation
of payment of the invoice submitted by Special Master Werner
case arises out of the fatal injury sustained by Jim
Bouchillon while he was operating a Deutz model 3006 tractor
on August 17, 2013. Doc. #1 at ¶¶ 8-9. His wife and
estate representative, Judy Bouchillon, commenced this
wrongful death product liability action against three German
corporations: SAME Deutz-Fahr, Group (“SAME
Group”); Deutz AG (“Deutz”); and SAME
Deutz-Fahr North America, Inc. (“SAME America”).
On June 15, 2015, after approximately a year of discovery,
Judy moved to amend her complaint to add an additional
defendant, SAME Deutz-Fahr Deutschland GmbH, d/b/a Same
Deutz-Fahr Germany (“SAME Germany”). Doc. #66.
After receiving leave from the Court, Judy filed her amended
complaint on July 17, 2015. Doc. #86.
8, 2015, Deutz moved for summary judgment, arguing that in
1991 and 1992, it transferred “all assets, liabilities
and risks of its tractor business” in a sale to KHD
Agrartechnik GmbH (a predecessor to the SAME entities). Doc.
#81 at 1. On September 4, 2015, SAME Group and SAME America
responded in opposition to Deutz's motion for summary
judgment and filed their own motion for summary judgment.
Doc. #99; Doc. #100. The same day, Judy responded to
Deutz's motion for summary judgment arguing, of relevance
here, that “by virtue of the 1991 and 1992 agreements
... [SAME] Group and SAME Germany are legally responsible for
product liability claims related to … [the]
tractor.” Doc. #102 at 4. Similarly, on November 23,
2015, Judy, in response to the SAME defendants' motion
for summary judgment, argued that “[t]he 1992
[a]greement [e]ffectively transferred Deutz's tractor
related product liabilities to KHD Agrartechnik.” Doc.
#126 at 4. Also on November 23, 2015, Deutz filed a
“Consolidated Reply Memorandum in Support of its Motion
for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support of its
Response in Opposition to [SAME] Group and [SAME]
America['s] ... Motion for Summary Judgment.” Doc.
#129. SAME Group and SAME America replied in support of their
motion for summary judgment on December 18, 2015. Doc. #139;
March 10, 2016, the Court, acting on motion of SAME America
and SAME Group, issued an order submitting the pending
summary judgment motions to a special master. Doc. #162. The
order specifically called on the special master to answer
certain questions related to German law of transfers of
liabilities. See id. at 8. The same day, the Court
issued a “Notice of Appointment of Special
Master” which provided, in relevant part, that
“[t]he Court will approve compensation for all
reasonable time spent, and after considering the factors in
Rule 53(g)(3), will allocate the burden of compensation among
the parties as appropriate.” Doc. #163 at 3. To this
end, the Court noted that it would “take into account
that the referred summary judgment motions primarily
represent a dispute between the several German corporate
Defendants, and that Plaintiff has a reduced role in the
necessity of a special master.” Id. at 3 n.1.
The Court also stated it would “consider … which
parties sought the special master and which did not.”
17, 2016, the Court, after receiving from the parties four
nominations for special master, appointed Werner F. Ebke as
the special master in this action. Doc. #188. Ebke filed a
report and recommendation with this Court on December 8,
2016. Doc. #215. On February 7, 2017, the Court, after
receiving objections to the report and recommendation,
resubmitted the document to Ebke with instructions to answer
additional questions. Doc. #225. Ebke resubmitted the report
and recommendation on April 17, 2017. Doc. #226. The Court
ultimately adopted Ebke's resubmitted report and
recommendation. Doc #232.
later, Ebke submitted to the Court an invoice for $20, 050.00
for his work on the case. No party has objected to the amount
requested by the invoice. However, Deutz filed an objection
stating that “the SAME Defendants should be responsible
for a significant portion of th[e] invoice in an amount of
fifty percent (50%) or more ….” Doc. #248 at 2.
Judy filed an objection requesting “that none of the
Special Master's fees be allocated to the
Plaintiff.” Doc. #247 at 2.
a special master's compensation, Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 53(g)(3) provides that “[t]he court must
allocate payment among the parties after considering the
nature and amount of the controversy, the parties' means,
and the extent to which any party is more responsible than
other parties for the reference to a master.”
Court previously observed, the controversy Ebke was appointed
to resolve primarily involved a dispute between the various
defendants regarding the application of the German law of
successor liability. Accordingly, the first factor weighs in
favor of allocating a higher burden of the invoice to the
regard to the second factor, the parties have not introduced
evidence showing the relevant means of the corporate
defendants. However, Judy has persuasively argued that her
means “are miniscule when compared to the financial
means of the corporate Defendants in this case.” Doc.
#247 at 2. Under these circumstances, the ...