Church et al v. State of Missouri et al
ORDER entered by Judge Nanette Laughrey. Non-Parties' Pro Se Motion for Joinder, [Doc. 30 ], is denied. (Farrington, Elizabeth)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
SHONDEL CHURCH, et. al.,
STATE OF MISSOURI, et al.,
Pending before the Court is Non-Parties’ Pro Se Motion for Joinder, [Doc. 30]. For the
following reasons, the Motion is denied.
This lawsuit challenges funding for the Missouri State Public Defender, which provides
legal representation to all indigent citizens accused or convicted of crimes in Missouri state
court. Plaintiffs filed this putative class action alleging Missouri “has failed to meet its
constitutional obligation to provide indigent defendants with meaningful representation.”
Plaintiffs seek prospective relief on behalf of themselves and “on behalf of all indigent
persons who are now, or who will be during the pendency of this litigation, under formal charge
before a state court in Missouri of having committed any offense, the penalty for which includes
the possibility of confinement, incarceration, imprisonment, or detention (regardless of whether
actually imposed), and who are eligible to be represented by” the Missouri State Public
Defender. The named Plaintiffs are members of the putative class and have plausibly alleged that
they “will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the Class.”
Plaintiffs filed this class action for injunctive and declaratory relief in Missouri state
court. Defendants removed this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§1331, 1441, and 1446. Roughly
three hundred non-parties now move to join this lawsuit, [Doc. 30].1 The movants are “indigent,
incarcerated, past and present clients of the Missouri State Public Defenders Office.” Both
Plaintiffs and State Defendants oppose the motion.
A. Mandatory Joinder under Rule 19
Rule 19 governs when joinder of a particular party is mandatory. Int’l Brotherhood of
Teamsters, Local 878 v. Commercial Warehouse Co., 84 F.3d 299, 302 (8th Cir. 1996). Joinder
is mandatory only when the party is necessary. See Gwartz v. Jefferson City Mem’l Hosp. Ass’n,
23 F.3d 1426, 1428 (8th Cir. 1994). A party is necessary if: (1) in the person’s absence complete
relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest
relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in the
person’s absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person’s 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 reason of the claimed
interest. Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1).
Joinder would be required if the movants satisfied Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a) by showing that
the new parties are necessary to a full resolution of the case. Bailey v. Bayer CropScience L.P.,
563 F.3d 302, 308 (8th Cir. 2009). Here, joinder of the movants under Rule 19(a) is not required
because their absence would not impair the court’s ability to accord complete relief in the form
of injunctive and declaratory relief. Movants will benefit from whatever prospective relief
The non-parties jointly filed a “Motion of Joinder” under Mo. R. Civ. P. 52.04. In the time since the
motion was mailed, the case had been removed to this Court. The cited Missouri rule is not applicable in
federal court, as Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 19 and 20 govern joinder.
Plaintiffs secure as a result of belonging to the putative class.
Movants state “in their absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already
named parties,” [Doc. 30, p. 2], and list the differences between movants and the named
Plaintiffs. Namely, movants charge that “no named Plaintiff has used the Missouri State Public
Defender Office . . . at the Direct Appeal stage, . . . [or the] Post Conviction Relief” stage and
has not “had their case adjudicated in the Missouri Court of Appeals, or Missouri Supreme
Court.” Id. This argument is further evidence why joinder is inappropriate under Rule 19; the
majority of the individuals seeking to join appear to be outside of Plaintiffs’ class because they
are not under formal charge for a criminal offense before a Missouri state court and their prison
sentences have already been commenced. As a result, movants are not situated as such that the
disposition of this action in movants’ absence would as a practical matter impair or impede the
person’s ability to protect that interest. Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a)(1).
Insofar as some of the movants may have charges pending before the state court, they are
adequately represented by the class representatives, who will protect their interests. As a result,
mandatory joinder under Rule 19 is inappropriate.
B. Permissive Joinder under Rule 20
Rule 20 governs permissive joinder. Specifically, Rule 20 “allows multiple plaintiffs to
join in a single action if (i) they assert claims ‘with respect to or arising out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences;’ and (ii) ‘any question of law or
fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.’” In re Prempro Prod. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d
613, 622 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(1)). “The rule imposes two specific
requisites to the joinder of parties: (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. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1333 (8th Cir. 1974).
As noted above, the majority of the individuals seeking to join appear to be outside of
Plaintiffs’ class because, as Defendants argue, “they have already been convicted of crimes and
this Court should not presume that they will commit and be charged with additional crimes in the
future.” [Doc. 41, p. 2]. Movants are not under formal charge for a criminal offense before a
Missouri state court and their prison sentences have already been commenced. Although the
movants raise questions about the adequacy of post-conviction representation, “these questions
raise different factual and legal questions than the claims asserted in Plaintiffs’ petition.” [Doc.
39, p. 2]. Were the motion for joinder to be granted, the individuals seeking joinder would
comprise a separate and distinct class from Plaintiffs’ proposed class and would need to support
their claims with additional and distinct factual allegations and legal arguments.
Courts have discretion in permitting joinder under Rule 20. See Mosley, 497 F.2d at 1332
(“[T]he scope of the civil action is made a matter for the discretion of the district court) (citing
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(b)). In this case, the movants will benefit from whatever prospective relief
Plaintiffs secure as a result of belonging to the putative class and the majority of movants are
outside Plaintiffs’ prospective class. Therefore, Rule 20 permissive joinder is not appropriate.
For the foregoing reasons, Non-Parties’ Pro Se Motion for Joinder, [Doc. 30], is denied.
s/ Nanette K. Laughrey
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY
United States District Judge
Dated: _May 31, 2017_
Jefferson City, Missouri
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