Brannon et al v. Gadsden, City of et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER SEVERING LAWSUIT. The claims of Plaintiffs Kimberly L. Brannon, Joseph R. DuBose, Dustin A. Loyd, Jason L. Lynn, Erica Snow, and Roy Myers (the "Gadsden Plaintiffs") are HEREBY SEVERED from the claims of Plai ntiffs Charles Cantrell, Ricky L. Hunter, and Dustin A. Loyd (the "Attalla Plaintiffs"). Further, the Clerk is HEREBY DIRECTED to assign a new civil action case number to the severed claims of the Attalla Plaintiffs as set out herein. Signed by Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins on 5/20/2015. (JLC)
2015 May-20 PM 02:54
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
KIMBERLY L. BRANNON, et al.,
CITY OF GADSDEN, et al.,
) Case No.: 4:13-CV-1229-VEH
AND ORDER SEVERING LAWSUIT
Plaintiffs initiated this action on July 1, 2013 (Doc. 1), and filed their most
recently amended complaint (Doc. 63) on April 9, 2015. On March 10, 2015, after
first raising the issue of severance with the parties at a hearing held on February 4,
2015, the court entered an order requiring the parties to file a report of parties’
planning meeting and to include within there “whether they are in agreement that
severing this case into two lawsuits is appropriate so that the claims involving the
[City of Anniston] will be separate from those involving the [City of Gadsden].”
(Doc. 62 at 38); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 (“The court may also sever any claim
against a party.”).
The parties filed their report (Doc. 68) on May 1, 2015, and jointly indicated
that “the claims of the Gadsden Plaintiffs should be severed from those of the Attalla
Plaintiffs and that the claims be consolidated for discovery purposes with such
discovery being conducted within the parameters of this report.” (Doc. 68 at 8).
Rule 21 provides:
Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action. On
motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or
drop a party. The court may also sever any claim against a party.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 21 (emphasis added).
Severance under Rule 21 is directly related to permissive joinder of parties
under Rule 20. As Rule 20 pertains to joining plaintiffs in pertinent part:
(a) Persons Who May Join or Be Joined.
(1) Plaintiffs. Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs
(A) they assert any right to relief jointly,
severally, or in the alternative with respect to
or arising out of the same transaction,
occurrence, or series of transactions or
(B) any question of law or fact common to all
plaintiffs will arise in the action.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a).
A district court’s decision to allow joinder or order severance is a discretionary
one. See, e.g., Nor-Tex Agencies, Inc. v. Jones, 482 F.2d 1093, 1100 (5th Cir. 1973)
(“The district judge acted within his discretion in allowing the joinder under Rule
20(a), as well as denying the motion for severance under Rule 20(b).”) (emphasis
added);1 see also Alexander v. Fulton County, Ga., 207 F.3d 1303, 1322 (11th Cir.
2000) (“We review a district court’s joinder of Plaintiffs’ claims and denial of
severance for abuse of discretion.”) (citing Nor-Tex Agencies, 482 F.2d at 1100),
overruled on other grounds by Manders v. Lee, 338 F.3d 1304, 1328 (11th Cir. 2003).
With the written consent of all parties, the court concludes that it is appropriate
to sever this case into two separate actions on the basis of which municipal defendant
is alleged to be liable to each one of the plaintiffs–the City of Gadsden or the City of
Attalla. Accordingly, the claims of Plaintiffs Kimberly L. Brannon, Joseph R.
DuBose, Dustin A. Loyd, Jason L. Lynn, Erica Snow, and Roy Myers (the “Gadsden
Plaintiffs”) are HEREBY SEVERED from the claims of Plaintiffs Charles Cantrell,
In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en
banc), the Eleventh Circuit adopted as binding precedent all decisions of the former
Fifth Circuit handed down prior to October 1, 1981.
Ricky L. Hunter, and Dustin A. Loyd (the “Attalla Plaintiffs”).2 The Gadsden
Plaintiffs will remain as the named plaintiffs in this lawsuit (i.e., 4:13-CV-1229VEH).
Further, the clerk is HEREBY DIRECTED to assign a new civil action case
number to the severed claims of the Attalla Plaintiffs. The parties are still permitted
to conduct discovery in a collective manner when appropriate as so stipulated in their
report. Finally, the new case as well as this action shall both be assigned to the
DONE and ORDERED this 20th day of May, 2015.
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS
United States District Judge
Because Plaintiff Dustin A. Loyd has asserted claims against both municipal
defendants (Doc. 63 at 24-29 ¶¶ 89-101), he will be a named plaintiff in both actions.
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