United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS ON MOTION
C. WILKINSON, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
has filed a Motion to Amend Complaint (2nd Motion
to Amend). Record Doc. No. 46. This motion seeks to
join the trustee of plaintiff's bankruptcy
estate as a party in this case, apparently in addition to
maintaining herself as a named plaintiff.Record Doc. No.
46-1 at p. 2. Defendant filed a timely opposition memorandum.
Record Doc. No. 48. Defendant previously filed a motion to
dismiss this case on grounds that the bankruptcy trustee, not
plaintiff, was the real party in interest. Record Doc. No.
33. The motion to dismiss is pending before the district
judge. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion is
DENIED, subject to the Rule 17 order set out below.
Civ. P. 17(a)(1) and (3) provide in pertinent part:
An action must be prosecuted in the name of the real
party in interest. The following may sue in their own
names without joining the person for whose benefit the
action is brought: . . . (g) a party authorized by statute .
. . The court may not dismiss an action for failure
to prosecute in the name of the real party in interest until,
after an objection, a reasonable time has been
allowed for the real party in interest to ratify, join,
or be substituted into the action.
concedes that she failed to include the claim asserted in the
instant lawsuit in her summary of assets and liabilities
schedules when she filed her Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings
in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Middle District
of Louisiana. Record Doc. Nos. 46-2; 6, 14 in Bkrtcy. No.
15-11535 (M.D. La.). When a plaintiff files for bankruptcy
relief after the events that are asserted in a lawsuit have
occurred, the claim is not properly pursued by the
plaintiff. Instead, the claim becomes the property of the
bankruptcy estate, and "the [t]rustee is the real party
in interest with exclusive standing to" pursue
the claim. Wieberg v. GTE Southwest, Inc., 272 F.3d
302, 306 (5th Cir. 2001) (citing 11 U.S.C.§ 541(a)
(defining property of the bankruptcy estate) (emphasis
added); In re Coastal Plans, Inc., 179 F.3d 197,
207-08 (5th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1117
(2000) (finding that it is the debtor's duty to disclose
all potential causes of action); Matter of Educators
Group Health Trust, 25 F.3d 1281, 1283 (5th Cir. 1994)
(finding that causes of action are included in the property
of a bankruptcy estate)). Thus, plaintiff has no standing in
this matter at this time and cannot prosecute this suit.
motion of the bankruptcy trustee, Record Doc. No. 46-2,
plaintiff's bankruptcy case has been reopened, and Dwayne
M. Murray was re-appointed by court order on February 11,
2019, as trustee in that case in the Middle District of
Louisiana. Record Doc. No. 28 in Bkrtcy. No. 15-11535 (M.D.
323, 541(a)(1) and 554 of the Bankruptcy Code provide:
(a) The trustee in a case under this title is the
representative of the estate.
(b) The trustee in a case under this title has capacity to
sue and be sued.
(a) The commencement of a case under section 301, 302, or 303
of this title creates an estate. Such estate is comprised of
all the following property, wherever located and by whomever
(1) . . . all legal or equitable interests of the
debtor in property as of the commencement of the case.
(a) After notice and a hearing, the trustee may abandon any
property of the estate that is burdensome to the estate or
that is of ...