Lejeaun et al v. Waste Connections of Louisiana, Inc. et al
ORDER AND REASONS that the 16 35 Motions to Sever Plaintiff Monroe's FLSA Claim and to Dismiss His Claims Under the Louisiana Whistleblower Statue on Behalf of Defendants is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Signed by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle on 1/10/2018. (cms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LEJEAUN CELESTINE, ET AL.
WASTE CONNECTIONS OF
LOUISIANA, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
Considering Defendants’, Progressive Waste Solutions of LA,
Waste Connections of Louisiana, Waste Connections US, and IESI LA
Corporation, Motion to Sever Plaintiff Monroe's FLSA Claim and to
Dismiss His Claims Under the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute on
Behalf of Defendants (Rec. Docs. 16 and 35), Plaintiffs’ Response
in Opposition (Rec. Doc. 22), and Defendants’ Reply in Support of
Motion to Sever (Rec. Docs. 42 and 55).
For the reasons discussed below,
IT IS ORDERED that the Motion to Sever Plaintiff Monroe's
Whistleblower Statute on Behalf of Defendants (Rec. Docs. 16 and
35) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiff Monroe is one of three named plaintiffs bringing
forth allegations regarding allegedly illegal employment practices
by Defendants, Waste Connections of Louisiana Inc. (“Defendant
WCL”), Progressive Waste Solutions of LA Inc. (“Defendant PWS”),
Waste Connections US Inc. (“Defendant WCUS”), and IESI LA Landfill
Corporation (“Defendant IESI”), collectively referred to herein as
The instant motion filed by Defendants seeks to sever and
dismiss Plaintiff Monroe’s claims from the other plaintiffs in
this case. Defendants argue that Plaintiff Jerry Monroe’s claims
should be severed under FRCP 21. Defendants contend that Plaintiff
Monroe’s claims are individualized and do not rise out of the same
occurrence and do not involve the same law or facts. Defendants
also assert that a joint trial would result in prejudice while
promoting neither settlement nor judicial economy.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 21, severance
“creates two separate actions or suits where previously there
was but one. Where a single claim is severed out of a suit,
it proceeds as a discrete, independent action, and a court
may render a final, appealable judgment in either one of the
resulting two actions notwithstanding the continued existence
of unresolved claims in the other.” United States v. O'Neil,
709 F.2d 361, 368 (5th Cir.1983); Allied Elevator, Inc. v. E.
Texas State Bank of Buna, 965 F.2d 34, 36 (5th Cir. 1992).
To determine whether a claim is to be severed, a court may
consider the following factors: 1) whether the claim arose out of
the same transaction or occurrence; 2) whether the claims present
common questions of law or fact; 3) whether settlement or judicial
economy would be promoted; 4) whether prejudice would be averted
by severance; 5) whether different witnesses and documentary proof
are required for separate claims. Xavier v. Belfor Grp. USA, Inc.,
No. CIV.A.06-491, 2008 WL 4862549, at *3 (E.D. La. Sept. 23, 2008);
E. Cornell Malone Corp. v. Sisters of the Holy Family, St. Mary's
Acad. of the Holy Family, 922 F. Supp. 2d 550 (E.D. La. 2013).
The first two of the above five factors impose two specific
requirements necessary for the joinder of parties, which are: (1)
a right to relief must be asserted by, or against, each plaintiff
or defendant relating to or arising out of the same transaction or
occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (2) some
question of law or fact common to all the parties must arise in
the action. Mosley v. General Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1333
(8th Cir.1974). “Generally, as long as both prongs of the test are
met, “permissive joinder of plaintiffs ... is at the option of the
plaintiffs.” Acevedo v. Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc., 600
F.3d 516, 521 (5th Cir. 2010). However, even where both prongs are
satisfied, district courts are equipped with necessary discretion
to refuse joinder in under certain circumstances. Id.
Plaintiff Jerry Monroe’s claims in this case. By prior Order and
Reasons (Rec. Doc. 44) this Court dismissed Lejeaun Celestine from
this case. Subsequently, on November 17, 2017, after hearing on
Plaintiffs’ third Motion to Amend the Complaint, Magistrate Judge
Knowles granted Plaintiffs’ motion to amend (Rec. Doc. 50) only to
the extent that they removed all reference(s) of Lejeaun Celestine
from the Complaint. Rec. Doc. 57. In all other regards, Plaintiffs’
motion to amend the complaint was denied as futile. Id. Finally,
this Court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 37) in
part, which: 1) dismissed all claims by Plaintiff Dawson against
Defendant Waste Connections of Louisiana Inc., Defendant IESI LA
Landfill Corporation, and Defendant Waste Connections US Inc, and
2) dismissed all claims by Plaintiff Monroe against Defendant Waste
Connections of Louisiana Inc., and Defendant IESI LA Landfill
Corporation. Rec. Doc. 60.
Examination of the record here compels severance of Plaintiff
Monroe’s claims. Plaintiff Dawson, was terminated by Defendant PWS
in December 2015. However, the claims asserted by Plaintiff Monroe
occurred during his employment with Defendant PWS, which began
about four (4) months after Plaintiff Dawson’s termination in April
2016. Rec. Docs. 12 and 55. While it is true that “transaction” is
a word of flexible meaning and may comprehend a series of many
occurrences, the flexibility required in this instance stretches
beyond permissive joinder. See Alexander v. Fulton Cty., Ga., 207
F.3d 1303, 1323 (11th Cir. 2000), overruled by Manders v. Lee, 338
F.3d 1304 (11th Cir. 2003).
Plaintiff Monroe’s claims fall short of the pre-requisites of
the second prong, as they also fail to assert any common law(s) or
fact(s) to Plaintiff Dawson’s claims. Plaintiff Monroe, a former
salaried manager alleges a claim pursuant to the anti-retaliation
provision of the FLSA, as well as a claim under the Louisiana
Whistleblower statute. Plaintiff Dawson, a former hourly employee
of Defendants, alleges Louisiana and FLSA wage claims against the
Defendants. Not only are these claims distinct and separate issues
of law, the interests of judicial economy and avoidance of jury
confusion also weigh in favor of severance.
Defendants’ motion is GRANTED in part.
Monroe’s claims under La. R.S. §23:967. Defendants argue that
Plaintiff Monroe fails to allege a violation of a Louisiana state
law in his complaint. However, the amended Complaint (Rec. Doc.
Whistleblower Claim” that “Monroe complained about violations of
state law and then refused to participate in pay practices in
violation of state law.” The preceding paragraph 39 of the amended
Complaint contains an incorporating statement of the Complaint’s
foregoing allegations. It follows that the allegations set forth
in the amended Complaint, that Defendants’ failed to conduct
allegedly failed to implement while working for the Defendants.
Accordingly, Defendants’ motion is DENIED in part, insofar as it
seeks to dismiss Plaintiff Monroe’s whistleblower claim.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 10th day of January, 2018.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?