Stds of Review: Reconsideration of prior trial ruling subject to abuse of discretion (and determining indispensable party)

In Jones v. Stucker, the COA in a nonpublished decision, dated 2/25/2011 applied the abuse of discretion standard to the trial court's ruling on motion to reconsider and rescind a prior order of the trial court which had determined if a party was indispensable.  The two issues are a little muddled but included here:

We review the trial court’s decision under an abuse of discretion standard. The test for abuse of discretion is whether the trial judge’s decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles. Com. v. English, 993 S.W.2d 941, 945 (Ky. 1999). Therefore, we affirm the lower court’s decision unless there is a showing of some “flagrant miscarriage of justice.” Gross v. Com., 648 S.W.2d 853, 858 (Ky. 1983). With this standard in mind, we examine the trial court’s ruling.


The appellants first argue that the trial court erred in granting Stucker’s motion to reconsider and, subsequently, dismissing the third-party complaint against Myles. They assert that a court must employ the test set forth in Davidson v. Castner-Knott Dry Goods Co., Inc., 202 S.W.3d 597 (Ky. App. 2006), to rescind a prior ruling. First, “a judge may reexamine an earlier ruling and rescind it if he has a reasonable conviction that it was wrong and it would not cause undue prejudice to the party that benefited from it.” Id. at 602 (quoting Hallahan v. The Courier-Journal, 138 S.W.3d 699, 705 n.4 (Ky. App. 2004)). Appellants argue that they would suffer undue prejudice and hardship with the dismissal of the third-party complaint and removal of Myles as a party. They contend that the time which passed during which Myles was a party led them to develop their trial strategy, hire experts, research and draft preliminary jury instructions and undertake discovery with the understanding that Myles would be an involved participant. We do not find this a convincing argument.

Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure (CR) 19 sets forth that it is within the sound discretion of the trial court to make a determination as to whether additional parties are necessary to ongoing litigation and should be joined. West v. Goldstein, 830 S.W.2d 379, 385 (Ky. 1992). This rule provides that a party should be joined where:
(a) in his absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (b) he claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in his absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reasons of his claim interest.
CR 19.01(a)

Here, appellants do not have a case against Myles.