March 30, 2010
Decision of Interest on Joinder
BNA's U.S. Law Week reports today on the Fifth Circuit's recent decision in Acevedo v. Allsup's Convenience Stores, Inc., No. 09-10417, ___ F.3d ___, 2010 WL 908678, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 5382 (March 15, 2010). The plaintiffs were approximately 800 current and former employees who sought payment of unpaid wages and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district court dismissed the claims on the basis that the plaintiffs were not properly joined.
The Fifth Circuit panel held that denying joinder was not an abuse of discretion, reasoning that federal courts may refuse joinder of parties even if the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 20 are satisfied:
"[A]ssuming arguendo that Allsup's company-wide policies allow Appellants to satisfy Rule 20's transaction test, denying joinder in this case would still not be an abuse of discretion. . . . [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 plaintiffs' claims."
The panel did, however, reverse the district court for dismissing all of the plaintiffs' claims as a result of the misjoinder: "[S]ince Rule 21 establishes that misjoinder of parties is not a ground for dismissing an action, the district court erred when it dismissed this entire action, rather than simply dismissing the claims of any misjoined plaintiffs."