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Brannon v. City of Gadsden

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

May 20, 2015

KIMBERLY L. BRANNON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF GADSDEN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER SEVERING LAWSUIT

VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs initiated this action on July 1, 2013 (Doc. 1), and filed their most recently amended complaint (Doc. 63) on April 9, 2015. On March 10, 2015, after first raising the issue of severance with the parties at a hearing held on February 4, 2015, the court entered an order requiring the parties to file a report of parties' planning meeting and to include within there "whether they are in agreement that severing this case into two lawsuits is appropriate so that the claims involving the [City of Anniston] will be separate from those involving the [City of Gadsden]." (Doc. 62 at 38); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 21 ("The court may also sever any claim against a party.").

The parties filed their report (Doc. 68) on May 1, 2015, and jointly indicated that "the claims of the Gadsden Plaintiffs should be severed from those of the Attalla Plaintiffs and that the claims be consolidated for discovery purposes with such discovery being conducted within the parameters of this report." (Doc. 68 at 8).

II. Standard

Rule 21 provides:

Misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action. On 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 (emphasis added).

Severance under Rule 21 is directly related to permissive joinder of parties under Rule 20. As Rule 20 pertains to joining plaintiffs in pertinent part:

(a) Persons Who May Join or Be Joined.
(1) Plaintiffs. Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if:
(A) they assert any right to relief 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 plaintiffs will ...

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