Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BARNER v. CITY OF HARVEY

March 28, 2003

EZELLA BARNER, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF HARVEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald A. Guzman, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pending is Defendant City of Harvey's et al. amended motion to sever the named Plaintiffs' individual claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. In the alternative, Defendants seek separate trials for each of Plaintiffs' claims should the Court deny their motion to sever. For the reasons set forth below Defendants' motion to sever is granted.

BACKGROUND FACTS

On June 5, 1995, Ezella Barner, Myrtha Barner, Joyce Brown, Barbara Chalmers, Charles Clark, Denard Eaves, Rufus Fisher, Lee Gray and Henry Jefferson ("Plaintiffs") filed this case on behalf of themselves and all other African-American who were employed by the City of Harvey and were allegedly subject to adverse employment actions between April 4, 1995 and September 15, 1995 because of their race and political support of former Mayor David Johnson, against the City of Harvey, Nicholas Graves, Christopher Barton, Camille Damiani and several others who have since been dismissed.

On March 24, 1997, over the objections of Defendants, Judge Coar granted Plaintiffs' motion for class certification and certified two classes. On two subsequent occasions, Defendants moved to decertify the classes. Both motion were denied. Accordingly, all of Plaintiffs' claims remained joined for trial.

On October 24, 2001, the pattern and practice portion of this case was submitted to a jury for trial. Before the impaneled jury were three Counts of Plaintiffs' Fifth Amended Complaint, all relating to the class action, pattern and practice allegations. Count II alleges race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1983 (against Defendants City of Harvey, Nicholas Graves, Christopher Barton and Camille Damiani). Count III, alleged retaliation based on political affiliation in violation of the First Amendment, as enforced by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (against Defendants City of Harvey, Graves, Barton and Damiani); and Count VIII, alleging race discrimination in violation of Title VII (against the City of Harvey). On November 21, 2001, the jury rendered a unanimous verdict in favor of all Defendants on all three pattern and practice counts finding no pattern or practice of racial discrimination, retaliation based on political affiliation or race discrimination in violation of Title VII.

On May 17, 2002, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order denying Plaintiffs' Motion for a New Trial. On May 23, 2002, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order entering judgment in favor of all Defendants on Plaintiffs' disparate impact claims.

Remaining to be tried by the jury are the plaintiffs' individual claims under the following counts: Count I due process claims of Plaintiffs B. Bamer, M. Barner, Rufus Fischer, Donald Eaves and Lee Gray; Count II racial discrimination claims in violation of the equal protection clause as to Plaintiffs E. Barner, M. Barner, Joyce Brown, Barbara Chalmers, Charles Clark, Rufus Fischer, Harry Jefferson, Donald Eaves and Lee Gray; Count III retaliatory conduct in violation of the First Amendment as to E. Barner, M. Barner, Joyce Brown, Barbara Chalmers, Charles Clark, Henry Jefferson, Donald Eaves and Lee Gray; Count IV plaintiffs' civil conspiracy claims under section 1985; and Count V Plaintiffs section 1986 claims as to all Plaintiffs except Hayes and Burge; Counts VII and IX are only viable as to Plaintiff Fischer; and Count VIII alleging racial discrimination is viable as to all Plaintiffs.

DISCUSSION

Rule 20(a) allows permissive joinder of plaintiffs if they assert claims "arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any questions of law or fact common to all those persons will arise in the action." Rule 20 was designed to promote trial convenience and to expedite the resolution of disputes, thereby preventing multiple lawsuits. Mosely v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1332 (8th Cir. 1974). Consistent with this policy, the district court possesses wide discretion relative to the joinder of parties under Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a). The United States Supreme Court has noted that "[u]nder the rule, the impulse is toward entertaining the broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged." United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724, 868. Ct. 1130, 16 L.Ed.2d 218 (1966).

Rule 21 authorizes the court to dismiss any misjoined party or claims at any stage of a lawsuit. Misjoinder occurs when parties fail to satisfy either of the two requirements set forth in Rule 20(a). See Bailey v. N. Trust Co., 196 F. RD. 513, 515 (N.D.Ill. 2000). First, there must be a right to relief arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. Second, there must be a question of law or fact common to all the plaintiffs. See id.

Defendants assert that the requirements of permissive joinder are not satisfied because Plaintiffs' alleged pattern and practice claims in Counts II, III and VIII of the fifth amended complaint were rejected by the jury. Defendants argue because there has been a finding that Plaintiffs' claims do not arise out of a systematic pattern or event, they a fortiori do not arise from the same transaction or occurrence, and therefore, Plaintiffs' claims are not sufficiently related to satisfy the same transaction or occurrence injury. Therefore, according to Defendants Plaintiffs have failed to present facts to support their joined claims and contend that an analysis under Rule 20 must be undertaken in light of the jury's verdict and judgment. We agree.

Rule 20

A. Same Transaction or ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.