United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Joseph
Shaffer's Motion to Join New Party, [DE 27].
Plaintiff's Motion was filed on July 2, 2018, and timely
responses and replies were filed. [DE 29, Resp. in Op. to
Mot.; DE 33, Reply to Resp. to Mot.]. On August 23, 2018,
Plaintiff filed a Supplement to his Motion to Join New Party
[DE 35] and Defendant filed a response to the Supplement on
November 11, 2018, [DE 50], and the matter is now ripe for
adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will
GRANT Plaintiff's Motion to Join New Party, and REMAND
this action to the Jefferson Circuit Court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
to his Complaint, on August 17, 2015, Mr. Shaffer was
involved in an automobile accident with Andrew Donoghue
(“Mr. Donoghue”), who was an agent, servant, or
employee of the D L Peterson Trust (“the Peterson
Trust”). [DE 1-2 at 6, ¶¶ 6-7]. On October
26, 2015, Mr. Shaffer was involved in a second automobile
accident involving Abigail Hurley. [DE 27 at 86]. Mr. Shaffer
alleges that he suffered similar injuries as the result of
each these accidents. [Id. at 87].
Shaffer sued Mr. Donoghue, the Peterson Trust,  and Progressive
Direct Insurance Company (Progressive) (collectively,
“Defendants”) in Kentucky state court, alleging
state-law causes of action arising out of the August 17, 2015
accident. [DE 1-2]. On September 18, 2017, Mr. Donoghue and
the Peterson Trust filed a notice of removal to the Western
District of Kentucky. [DE 1]. On September 28, 2017, Mr.
Donoghue and the Peterson Trust filed Answers to the
Complaint. [DE 5; DE 6]. Progressive's Answer was filed
on February 9, 2018. [DE 16].
2, 2018, Mr. Shaffer moved to join Ms. Hurley as a new
defendant, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2). [DE 27].
Progressive opposed this motion, which was then fully briefed
by the parties. [DE 29; DE 33]. Shaffer then filed a
Supplement to his Motion on August 23, 2018. [DE 35]. The
supplement contained the results of Mr. Shaffer's August
10, 2018 medical examination in which Mr. Shaffer alleged
that the examining doctor “was not able to distinguish
the injuries between the two wrecks at issue” in this
case. [DE 35 at 110; DE 35-1]. Progressive moved
to strike the Supplement as untimely on August 24, 2018. [DE
37 at 120-21]. With leave of the Court, Progressive filed a
response to the Supplement on November 19, 2018. [DE 50].
MOTION TO JOIN NEW PARTY
Shaffer moves to join Ms. Hurley, a Kentucky resident, as a
Defendant under the permissive joinder rule in Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a)(2). [DE 27 at 86-87]. Mr. Shaffer admits that mandatory
joinder under rule 19 is inapplicable because the additional
party is a Kentucky resident and would destroy diversity
jurisdiction. [Id. at 87]. This motion is opposed by
Progressive on grounds that the two automobile accidents are
distinct events occurring too far part in time to satisfy the
transactional relatedness required under Rule 20(a)(2)(A).
[DE 29 at 92-93].
Application of State Verses Federal Law.
threshold matter, this Court must determine whether its
analysis of Mr. Shaffer's Motion to Join is governed by
federal or state joinder law. See, e.g., Erie R.
Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78-80 (1938). When sitting
in diversity jurisdiction, “federal courts are to apply
state substantive law and federal procedural law.”
Hanna v. Plumer, 380 U.S. 460, 465 (1965). Because
joinder is a procedural matter, federal courts follow federal
rules when evaluating a motion to join. See Provident
Tradesmens Bank & Tr. Co. v. Patterson, 390 U.S.
102, 125 n.22 (1968) (“[I]t has been clear that in a
diversity case the question of joinder is one of federal law
. . . [t]o be sure, state-law questions may arise in
determining what interest the outsider actually has . . . but
the ultimate question whether, given those state defined
interests, a federal court may proceed without the outsider
is a federal matter.”) (citations omitted); see
also, Winner's Circle of Las Vegas, Inc. v. AMI
Franchising, Inc., 916 F.Supp. 1024, 1025-28 (D. Nev.
1996) (noting that federal courts follow federal rules when
evaluating a motion to join in actions filed in state court
and removed to federal court, so long as the joinder occurred
joinder is appropriate in this case is therefore a matter of
federal law, including whether the August 17, 2015 and
October 26, 2015 accidents were part of the “same . . .
series of transactions or occurrences.” But because
this suit sounds in Kentucky tort law, whether there is a
question of law or fact common to Defendants and Ms. Hurley
may require analyzing Kentucky law and the facts relevant to
Standard for Permissive Joinder Where Joinder Destroys
after removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional
defendants whose joinder would destroy subject matter
jurisdiction, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) gives the
district court the discretion to either “deny joinder,
or permit joinder and remand the action to the State
court.” See also, Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co
of Mich. v. Nat. City Corp., 2006 WL 2728359, at *1
(W.D. Mich. Sept. 22, 2006) (citing Wyant v. Nat'l
R.R. Passenger Corp., 881 F.Supp. 919, 922 (S.D.N.Y.
1995)). In such situations, the Court must “first
consider whether joinder would be appropriate under Rule 20
and then proceed to weigh the competing interests in
efficient adjudication and the need to protect diversity
jurisdiction from manipulation.” Wyant, 881
F.Supp. at 922; see also Telecom Decision Makers, Inc. v.
Access Integrated Networks, Inc., 654 Fed.Appx. 218, 221
(6th Cir. 2016) (per curiam).
Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) states that persons may be
joined as defendants in an action if:
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly,
severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising
out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series ...