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Bigelow v. S.T.A.R. Concrete Pumping, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

November 15, 2018

LARRY BIGELOW, ET AL.
v.
S.T.A.R. CONCRETE PUMPING, INC, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court is a Motion for Relief under FRCP 19 (the “Motion”)[1] filed by plaintiffs, Larry and Stacy Bigelow (“Plaintiffs”). The Motion is opposed[2] by defendants, S.T.A.R. Concrete Pumping, Inc. (“STAR”), Wesco Insurance Company (“Wesco”), and Tea Unn Conner (“Conner”) (collectively, “Defendants”). For the reasons set forth herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion[3] is DENIED.[4]

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs file, within seven (7) days of this Ruling and Order, a comprehensive amended complaint that adequately alleges the domiciles of Plaintiffs and Conner.[5]

         I. Background

         On October 12, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendants for injuries allegedly sustained in a January 5, 2017 automobile accident. Plaintiffs alleged that while traveling “on Pete Manena Rd., ” “a 2016 Mack CM truck owned by [Star] and operated by its employee, [Conner], struck the driver's side of plaintiff's vehicle after crossing the center of the roadway onto the plaintiff's side while traveling down Pete Manena Rd. in the opposite direction.”[6] Per their Complaint, Plaintiffs alleged federal subject matter jurisdiction exists pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 based on the assertion that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, [7] exclusive of interest and costs, and that the parties are completely diverse.[8]

         On August 10, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion.[9] Per the Motion, Plaintiffs assert that the DOTD “is a party required to be joined pursuant to Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, ” and that “joinder of the State of Louisiana is not feasible under Rule 19(b) because said party may be immune for [sic] jurisdiction in this Court or its joinder would deprive the Court of its subject matter jurisdiction in diversity.”[10] Because Plaintiffs assert that the DOTD is a party which is required to be joined under Rule 19 but for which joinder is not feasible, Plaintiffs “move the Court pursuant to FRCP 19(b) to determine whether, in equity and good conscience, this action should proceed amount [sic] the existing parties or should be dismissed….”[11] Plaintiffs note that they have also instituted a separate state court action naming the Defendants herein in addition to the DOTD, but explain that they cannot voluntarily dismiss this suit because of issues related to prescription.[12]

         II.Law and Analysis

         Plaintiffs argue that the DOTD should be joined as a defendant pursuant to FRCP 19. FRCP 19 provides, in pertinent part:

(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 person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or (ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.
(2) Joinder by Court Order. If a person has not been joined as required, the court must order that the person be made a party. A person who refuses to join as a plaintiff may be made either a defendant or, in a proper case, an involuntary plaintiff.
***
(b) When Joinder Is Not Feasible. If a person who is required to be joined if feasible cannot be joined, the court must determine whether, in equity and good conscience, the action should proceed among the existing parties or should be dismissed. The factors for the court to consider include:
(1) the extent to which a judgment rendered in the person's absence might prejudice that person or the existing parties;
(2) the extent to which any prejudice could be lessened or avoided by:
(A) protective provisions in the ...

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