United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
LEJEAUN CELESTINE, ET AL.
WASTE CONNECTIONS OF LOUISIANA, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
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).
reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that
the 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) is
GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
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 U.S.
Inc. (“Defendant WCUS”), and IESI LA Landfill
Corporation (“Defendant IESI”), collectively
referred to herein as “Defendants.”
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.
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).
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).
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.
of the above test warrants a severance of 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 U.S.
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.
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).
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.