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Parker v. Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 11, 2019

ROBERT PARKER
v.
LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONS, ET AL.

          RULING AND ORDER

          JOHN W. DeGRAVELLES JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter comes before the Court on two motions. The first is the Motion to Dismiss Claims for Misjoinder, or in the Alternative, to Sever and Transfer (Doc. 35) filed by Defendant Warden Ray Hanson (“Hanson”). Plaintiff Robert Parker (“Plaintiff” or “Parker”) opposes this motion. (Doc. 41.) Hanson filed a reply. (Doc. 42.) The second motion is the Motion to Dismiss for Misjoinder, or in the Alternative, to Sever and Transfer (Doc. 44) filed by Defendant LaSalle Corrections, LLC (“LaSalle”). Parker also opposes this motion. (Doc. 46.) LaSalle did not file a reply. Oral argument is not necessary. The Court has carefully considered the law, facts in the record, and arguments and submissions of the parties and is prepared to rule. For the following reasons, Defendants' motions are denied.

         I. Relevant Factual Background [1]

         Robert Parker is a person of the full age of majority domiciled in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Doc. 26, ¶11.) On December 21, 2016, Plaintiff was arrested for possible Violation of Protective Orders by the New Orleans Police and held in Orleans Parish Prison. (Id. ¶21.) On January 4, 2017, the Orleans District Attorney refused charges for possible Violation of Protective Orders. (Id. ¶23.) On March 27, 2017, Plaintiff “self-revoked his probation” in Orleans Criminal District Court. (Id. ¶24.) Plaintiff was sentenced to two years for revoking his probation, and he was given good time credit and credit for time served that would reduce the number of days in prison. (Id.) Following Plaintiff's self-revocation, on March 30, 2017, he was transferred from Orleans Parish Prison to Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (“DOC”) custody. (Id. ¶25.) Plaintiff spent time at two other detention centers before he arrived at Richwood Correctional Center either on May 30 or August 29, 2017. (Doc. 26, ¶25.) Ray Hanson was the Warden of Richwood Correctional Center. (Id. ¶14.)

         Plaintiff's original Time Computation & Jail Credit report was compiled on May 4, 2017, by a DOC staff member. (Id. ¶26.) This report listed Plaintiff's “Must Serve date” as October 9, 2017. (Id.) Plaintiff's Time Computation & Jail Credit report was reviewed on or around September 2017 by a Time Computation Specialist at David Wade Correctional Center. (Id. ¶27.) During this review, Plaintiff alleges that the release date was struck through and the letters “UNSORP” were written above the struck date. (Id.) This acronym is used in reference to residency plans for the release of sex offenders. (Doc. 26, ¶27.) Part of the residency plan for the release of sex offenders requires that he provide two physical addresses of friends and/or family where he could live upon his release. (Id. ¶28.) Plaintiff alleges that he was never informed by DOC, or convicted of, being a sex offender. (Id.)

         Plaintiff contends that he made a request to discuss this issue with Hanson and others at the DOC. (Id. ¶29.) Further, Plaintiff states that he submitted two additional Inmate Request Forms on September 4, 2017, where he asked to speak with Hanson about the matter of his release date or sex offender status. (Id. ¶30.) Both additional requests were marked as “handled” on the day that they were submitted. (Doc. 26, ¶30.)

         On October 9, 2017, Plaintiff was not released. (Id. ¶31.) On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff submitted another Inmate Request Form stating that he provided two additional addresses, [2] and the November 6 Request was marked as “handled” on November 9, 2017. (Id. ¶34.) Again, Plaintiff contends he submitted another Inmate Request Form on November 26, 2017, in which he asked that the street addresses he previously provided be included in his record. (Id. ¶35.) This Request was marked as “handled” on November 30, 2017. (Id.)

         On August 24, 2018, Plaintiff's Public Defender attempted to contact the DOC to inquire about Plaintiff's release date. (Doc. 26, ¶36.) On September 7, 2018, Plaintiff hired a different attorney who contacted the DOC on Plaintiff's behalf. (Id. ¶37.) Finally, on September 10, 2018, Plaintiff was released. (Id. ¶39.)

         II. Motion to Sever Standard

         Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that “Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action.” Further, “[o]n motion or on its own, the court may at any time, on just terms, add or drop a party. The court may also sever any claim against a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 21.

         The Fifth Circuit has explained “Rule 21 does not provide any standards by which district courts can determine if parties are misjoined, courts have looked to Rule 20 for guidance.” Acevedo v. Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc., 600 F.3d 516, 521 (5th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (citation omitted). Rule 20(a)(2) provides:

Persons…may be joined in one action as defendants if: (A) any right to relief asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

         Therefore, “Courts have described Rule 20 as creating a two-prong test, allowing joinder of [parties] when (1) their claims arise out of the ‘transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences' and when (2) there is at least one common question of law or fact linking all claims.” Acevedo, 600 F.3d at 521 (citations omitted). The Fifth Circuit found “as long as both prongs of the test are met, ‘permissive joinder of [parties]…is at the option of the [parties].'” Id. (quoting Applewhite v. Reichhold Chems., Inc., 67 F.3d 571, 574 n.11 (5th Cir. 1995)); see also United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724, 86 S.Ct. 1130 (1966) (“Under the Rules, the impulse is towards entertaining the broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties; joinder of claims, parties and remedies is strongly encouraged.”)

         “When applying the two-prong test, the Court considers whether there is a logical relationship between the claims and whether there is any overlapping proof or legal question.” Peters v. Singh, No. 16-842, 2017 WL 5128750, at *2 (M.D. La. Nov. 6, 2017) (citing Weber v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 00-2876, 2001 WL 274518, at *1 (E.D. La. Mar. 20, 2001)). Additionally, “[t]he Court must also consider whether settlement or judicial economy would be promoted, whether prejudice would be averted by severance, and whether different witnesses and documentary proof are required for separate claims.” Id. Thus, “even if this [two-part] test is satisfied, district courts have the discretion to refuse joinder in the interest of avoiding prejudice and delay, ensuring judicial economy, or safeguarding principles of fundamental fairness.” Acevedo, 600 F.3d at 521 (citation omitted). “[D]istrict courts have considerable discretion to deny joinder when it would not facilitate judicial economy and when different witnesses and documentary proof would be required for plaintiff[‘s] claims.” Id. at 522 (citation omitted).

         Put another way, the Eastern District applies this standard as a five-factor test to determine whether severance is appropriate:

(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; and, (5) whether different ...

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