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Raines v. Smith

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lake Charles Division

November 9, 2018

BARBARA RAINES
v.
CAMERON SMITH, NOVA INSURANCE COMPANY AND JOHN S. CRAFT, SHERIFF OF VERNON PARISH, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY

          KAY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Before the Court is a Rule 12(b)(7) Motion to Dismiss for Non-Joinder of a Required Party under Rule 19, filed by the defendants, Cameron Smith, Nova Insurance Company, and John S. Craft, Sheriff of Vernon Parish, in his official capacity (hereinafter collectively referred to as “the Defendants”). See Record Document 4. The Defendants argue that the Plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed without prejudice for failure to join an indispensable party. For the reasons which follow, the Rule 12(b)(7) Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 20, 2018, Plaintiff, Barbara Raines (“Raines”), filed a wrongful death action in this court against the Defendants arising from the death of her brother, Timothy Phillips, relying upon diversity jurisdiction. See Record Document 2. According to the complaint, Timothy Phillips was traveling westbound on Louisiana Highway 10 in Vernon Parish, Louisiana, when his vehicle malfunctioned, causing it to stall in his lane of travel. He was then struck from the rear by a vehicle driven by on-duty Vernon Parish Deputy Cameron Smith. See id.

         Raines is a citizen of Minnesota and all named defendants are either Louisiana or Delaware citizens. See id. Prior to the filing of her suit, Martha Knippers, another alleged surviving sibling of Timothy Phillips and a citizen of Louisiana, brought a wrongful death action in the Thirtieth Judicial District Court, Vernon Parish. See Record Document 4, Ex. 1. It is alleged in both petitions that Timothy Phillips died without descendants, a spouse, or living parents.[1] See id. On September 18, 2018, the Defendants filed a Rule 12(b)(7) Motion to Dismiss for Non-Joinder of a Required Party Under Rule 19. See Record Document 4. Raines filed an opposition and the Defendants filed a reply. See Record Documents 9 and 10.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         I. Rule 12(b)(7) and Rule 19 Standards.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7) allows dismissal for failure to join a party under Rule 19. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 provides for the joinder of all parties whose presence in a lawsuit is required for the fair and complete resolution of the dispute at issue. It also provides for the dismissal of the suit if it should not proceed without the parties who cannot be joined. See HS Resources, Inc. v. Wingate, 327 F.3d 432, 438 (5th Cir. 2003). The relevant text of Rule 19 provides:

         (a) Persons Required to Be Joined if Feasible.

(1) Required Party. A person who is subject to service of process and whose joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter jurisdiction must be joined as a party if:
(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in the ...

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