267 F.3d 538 (6th Cir. 2001), 00-5761, Warfield v AlliedSignal TBS Holdings

Docket Nº:00-5761
Citation:267 F.3d 538
Party Name:Lesley Warfield, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Kenny Warfield, deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant, The Travelers Insurance Company, Plaintiff, v. AlliedSignal TBS Holdings, Inc. and AlliedSignal Truck Brake Systems, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:October 05, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 538

267 F.3d 538 (6th Cir. 2001)

Lesley Warfield, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of Kenny Warfield, deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant,

The Travelers Insurance Company, Plaintiff,

v.

AlliedSignal TBS Holdings, Inc. and AlliedSignal Truck Brake Systems, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 00-5761

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 5, 2001

Submitted: September 12, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Frankfort. No. 98-00085, Joseph M. Hood, District Judge.

Page 539

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 540

Charles Stanford West, Williamson, West Virginia, for Appellant.

Anne A. Chestnut, GREENEBAUM, DOLL & McDONALD, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellees.

Before: DAUGHTREY and GILMAN, Circuit Judges; COHN, Senior District Judge.[*]

OPINION

RONALD LEE GILMAN, Circuit Judge.

Lesley Warfield filed a wrongful death action against her late husband's employer, AlliedSignal Truck Brake Systems, Inc., and its holding company, AlliedSignal TBS Holdings, Inc. (collectively, AlliedSignal). Following a scheduling conference before the district court, Warfield dismissed her complaint against AlliedSignal with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a)(1)(i) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. More than a year after AlliedSignal had been dismissed from the case, Warfield moved to vacate her earlier dismissal. The district court denied the motion. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

On October 11, 1997, Kenny Warfield was fatally injured at the AlliedSignal plant in Frankfort, Kentucky while operating an Orion 2200 metal-stamping machine. His widow, Lesley Warfield, brought a wrongful death action against AlliedSignal, alleging that the company engaged in intentional and willful misconduct by disabling the safety features on the machine. She also filed suit against the various manufacturers of the Orion 2200 and its component parts (the Orion defendants). The claim was filed in the Franklin County Circuit Court in Frankfort, Kentucky. AlliedSignal removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on the basis of diversity of citizenship.

On December 2, 1998, counsel for both Warfield and the defendants held a preliminary telephone conference pursuant to Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Because the complaint alleged that the "[d]ecedent was killed while acting in the scope and course of his employment," the attorneys for AlliedSignal requested that the company be voluntarily dismissed with prejudice from the lawsuit. They maintained that Kentucky's workers' compensation law provided the exclusive remedy in the matter and that Warfield's failure to dismiss AlliedSignal from the case would constitute a waiver of her right to claim further workers' compensation benefits. Warfield refused their request, arguing that such action was premature given the limited facts known to her at the time.

The district court later convened a scheduling conference on January 20, 1999. During the conference, AlliedSignal repeated its request to be dismissed from the case with prejudice. Warfield again refused, citing reports from the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Agency that AlliedSignal had engaged in "willful and serious" misconduct. The district court, however, agreed with...

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