St. Clair v. XPO Logistics, Inc.

Decision Date01 December 2022
Docket Number356954,356968
CourtCourt of Appeal of Michigan — District of US
PartiesMAUREEN ST. CLAIR, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. XPO LOGISTICS, INC., doing business as UX ASSEMBLY & INSTALLATION, Defendant/Cross-Plaintiff-Appellee, and ICON HEALTH & FITNESS, INC., Defendant-Appellee and CMC LOGISTICS, INC., Defendant/Cross-Defendant-Appellee. MAUREEN ST. CLAIR, Plaintiff, XPO LOGISTICS, INC., doing business as UX ASSEMBLY & INSTALLATION, Defendant/Cross-Plaintiff-Appellant, and ICON HEALTH & FITNESS, INC., Defendant, and CMC LOGISTICS, INC., Defendant/Cross-Defendant-Appellee.

Macomb Circuit Court LC No. 2019-004971-NO

Before: Sawyer, P.J., and Shapiro and Redford, JJ.


These consolidated appeals involve a personal-injury action based on an injury plaintiff, Maureen St. Clair, sustained when she fell off a treadmill and became trapped between the running tread and a wall. In Docket No. 356954, plaintiff appeals by right Macomb Circuit Court Judge James M. Maceroni's April 1, 2021 order granting summary disposition in favor of defendant CMC Logistics, Inc. (CMC), which was the final order closing the case. Plaintiff challenges the earlier orders, entered on May 4, 2020, and December 18, 2020, which granted summary disposition in favor of defendants, CMC, XPO Logistics, Inc. (XPO), and ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. (ICON). In Docket No. 356968, XPO argues that the circuit court erred by determining it was not a "subscribing client" of a contract between Trucking Transport Services, LLC (CRS) and CMC, such that it was a third-party beneficiary entitled to indemnification in the event that this Court reverses the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint against XPO. We affirm the grants of summary disposition in Docket No. 356954 and decline to address the issues in Docket No. 356968 as being moot in light of our disposition of Docket No. 356954.


In February 2015, plaintiff and her husband, Roy St. Clair purchased a ProForm Treadmill manufactured and distributed by ICON from a retailer located in Clinton Township, Michigan. The retailer contracted with XPO (formerly Urban Express, LLC (UX)) to deliver and install sports equipment its customers purchased, including delivery and installation of the treadmill in plaintiff's home. XPO in turn subcontracted its delivery and installation services to CMC. Thus, a few weeks after the purchase, CMC delivered, assembled, and installed the treadmill in plaintiff's home.

On the day of the delivery and installation, plaintiff told Roy that she wanted the treadmill positioned in the living room so that she could see the television. Consequently, Roy directed CMC's deliverymen to position the treadmill as plaintiff requested, which left less than a foot of clearance between the wall and the rear of the treadmill. Plaintiff did not read the manual before using the treadmill, but relied on Roy, who had read the manual, to inform her how to get on the treadmill and how to start it. Plaintiff and Roy did not discuss the manual further. Roy "glanced" at the manual's precautions, but "figured" the deliverymen had positioned the treadmill in a safe position.

On March, 16, 2015, a few days after the treadmill was delivered, plaintiff was walking on it at a very low speed when it allegedly accelerated causing plaintiff to fall. Because the rear of the treadmill was positioned less than a foot from a wall, plaintiff became trapped between the wall and the treadmill. Because plaintiff was not wearing the treadmill's safety clip, the treadmill's belt continued to run resulting in severe lacerations to plaintiff's skin.

Initially, plaintiff filed a personal-injury suit in federal district court on January 11, 2018, against ICON and XPO on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. On May 18, 2018, XPO filed a notice of nonparty at fault identifying CMC as a potentially liable party. On August 9, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint to add CMC as a party to the federal complaint. Several days later, on August 14, 2018, the federal district court granted the motion and, the next day, plaintiff filed an amended complaint adding CMC as a party. Four months later, on December 6, 2019, the federal district court dismissed the suit without prejudice on the basis that it no longer had diversity jurisdiction.

On the same date her federal complaint was dismissed, plaintiff filed a complaint in the circuit court alleging clams of negligence as to XPO and CMC and products liability as to ICON. Specifically, in Count I, plaintiff sought to hold XPO vicariously liable for the acts of CMC in negligently installing the treadmill; in Count II, plaintiff alleged negligence and gross negligence as to ICON, predicated on design defect, failure to warn, and breach of express and implied warranties that the treadmill was fit for its intended use; and, in Count III, plaintiff alleged CMC was both negligent and grossly negligent in setting-up the treadmill without the proper clearances and, that as a result, plaintiff suffered injuries.

All defendants and CMC, as cross-defendant, eventually filed motions for summary disposition. CMC moved for summary disposition first under MCR 2.116(C)(7) on the basis that the three-year limitations period barred plaintiff's suit. CMC explained that plaintiff's injury occurred on March 16, 2015, and, under the three-year limitations period, plaintiff had until March 16, 2018, to file suit. However, plaintiff did not file suit until December 2019 and, thus, her claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Regarding statutory tolling under MCL 600.5856, CMC asserted that tolling did not apply and, even if it did, it did not render plaintiff's suit timely.

Plaintiff responded by arguing that her complaint was timely under Michigan law. Plaintiff explained that, under MCL 600.2957(2), her amended complaint in federal court related back to her original complaint in that suit. This meant, according to plaintiff, that her state-court complaint is timely and CMC is precluded from raising the statute of limitations as a defense. Plaintiff further posited that the filing of the federal lawsuit tolled the limitations period until that lawsuit was no longer pending, meaning that tolling applies and the limitations period did not expire.

Ultimately, the circuit court agreed with CMC. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that under the relation-back provision, MCL 600.2957(2), her state-court complaint against CMC related all the way back to the original complaint in the federal court. The circuit court reasoned as follows:

At the heart of Plaintiff's argument is the assumption that the invocation of MCL 600.2957(2) in the federal case extends to control this case. This assumption is incorrect. Under MCL 600.2957(2), nonparty claims added in "an amended pleading" relate back to the "time of the filing of the original action." Nothing in the plain language of the statute indicates that the statute applies where, just as here, a prior added nonparty is named as a defendant in the original complaint in a separate case. And Plaintiff has not provided any caselaw to support this interpretation. Rather, the language in subsection (2) shows that the statute only applies to one case at a time (i.e., the same case where the claims against the nonparty were added after the nonparty has been identified). Specifically, the use of the phrase "amended pleading" in the first sentence in subsection (2) clearly contemplates a prior original pleading (such as the original complaint) was filed in the same case in which the amended pleading is filed. Only the nonparty claims added in the amended pleading in the same case as the original pleading can relate back to "the filing of the original action" under MCL 600.2957(2).
Put simply, MCL 600.2957(2) does not allow for the relation back of claims or tolling where a new lawsuit is filed. Nor does the statutory tolling provision in MCL 600.5[8]56 incorporate the nonparty relation back doctrine in MCL 600.2957(2) to extend the tolling period back to the filing of the original action in a prior, separate case. Accordingly, consistent with the plain language of MCL 600.2957(2) and MCL 600.5[8]56, Plaintiff's amended complaint in the federal lawsuit that added claims against CMC as a nonparty did not extend the tolling period for the statute of limitations in this case.

Accordingly, the circuit court ruled that plaintiff's claims against CMC were barred by the three-year period of limitations and dismissed plaintiff's claims against CMC with prejudice.

XPO also moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10), arguing that plaintiff did come forth with facts to establish that XPO was negligent. It also cited plaintiff's failure to use the safety clip. Moreover, it argued that CMC was an independent contractor and XPO was not vicariously liable for CMC's negligence. The trial court concluded that there was no genuine issue of material fact that CMC was an independent contractor and that XPO was not liable for any negligence by CMC.

Finally, ICON moved for summary judgment, raising a number of arguments. The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of ICON, finding that the defense of product misuse was dispositive.


Plaintiff argued in the proceedings below and on appeal that MCL 600.2957(2) applied between separate cases and that MCL 600.2957(2) and MCL 600.5856 together operated to save her suit [CMC MSD resp, pp 10-11]. This issue is preserved for appeal. See Peterman v Dep't of Natural Resources, 446 Mich. 177, 183; 521 N.W.2d 499 (1994) (indicating that preservation requirements are met if a party raises a claim, even if the lower court fails to address it). Plaintiff, however, did not raise any...

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