Switch Manufacturer Files Indemnification Suit Against CNH

On Tuesday, Robert Bosch, LLC filed a Texas state court complaint against CNH Industrial America, LLC to recover costs Bosch incurred while defending a product liability suit that both it and CNH were named in. Bosch contends that CNH must indemnify it pursuant to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code Section 82.002.

Though the company parties to this suit are organized under the laws of Delaware, and have their principal places of business in Michigan (Bosch) and Wisconsin (CNH), the suit was filed in Harris County, Texas, because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claim occurred there. The complaint states that in the underlying product liability and personal injury lawsuit, all involved lawyers were based there, Bosch paid its defense fees there, and the matter was settled there.

The original suit concerned a May 2016 incident where plaintiffs Juan Santiago and his wife claimed that he was injured “when a cover to a sealed battery box on a Model 8230 agricultural combine blew off, hitting him in the head and face.” The plaintiffs contended that the battery box exploded after Santiago activated a battery disconnect switch that operated the batteries, igniting hydrogen gas inside the sealed box.

The Santiagos sued CNH as the designer and manufacturer of the Model 8230 combine under several product liability theories in November 2016. They also sued Bosch as the distributor of the disconnect switch, “claiming that the disconnect switch was improper for use in the battery enclosure of the Model 8230 combine,” Bosch explained.

According to the complaint, both Bosch and CNH appeared and answered the product liability suit, which proceeded through pre-trial matters. Bosch alleges that while defending, it incurred considerable costs. As to Bosch, the Santiagos eventually agreed to release their claims in exchange for $325,000. A final judgment and stipulation of dismissal was entered in February 2019.

Bosch contends that CNH must indemnify it for the costs of defending and settling the product liability suit because Bosch “merely sold to CNH a component part of the Model 8230 combine—namely, the disconnect switch which CNH chose to use inside the battery box.” Further, Bosch allegedly “played no role in the selection or installation of the switch in the battery box for the Model 8230 combine and did not know that CNH would use the switch inside an enclosed and sealed battery box.” Thus, Bosch argues it may not be held independently liable for Santiago’s accident involving the Model 8230 combine and associated injuries.

Under the circumstances and Texas law, Bosch claims that CNH must indemnify and hold it harmless for all losses. In addition to the expenditures Bosch made in the product liability suit, it seeks reasonable expenses, attorney fees, and any other damages it will incur in the present suit, asserting its right to indemnity from CNH.

Robert Bosch, LLC is represented by Sheehy, Ware & Pappas, P.C.