In a subrogation action, one party is substituted to the rights and remedies of another with respect to a lawful claim. The substituted party (the subrogee) is legally able to pursue any right or seek any remedy that would be available to the subrogor regarding that claim. But can a defendant in a subrogation action assert any claim against the subrogee that it would have against the subrogor? In Federated Mut. Inc. Co. v. Kosciusko County, No. 3:20-CV-960, 2021 U.S. Dist. Lexis 88735, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana considered whether a defendant could assert counterclaims against the insureds/subrogors in an action filed in the name of their subrogee. The court held that since the insurerds/subrogors were not a party to the action and the defendant could assert the substance of its counterclaim as a defense, the defendant could not file counterclaims against the insureds/subrogors in the insurer’s subrogation action.
Kosciusko County arose from a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-tractor trailer owned by Bellman Oil Company, Inc. (Bellman) and B & B Transport, Inc. (B & B). The accident occurred on a highway in Kosciusko County in October of 2019. The accident caused the semi-tractor trailer containing ethanol fuel to roll over four times and burst into flames. Federated Mutual Insurance Company (FMIC) insured Bellman and B & B for the semi-tractor trailer and issued payments as a result of the accident.