United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1 OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, JON MARC PULLIAM, and CHRISTINE PULLIAM, Plaintiffs,
SODEXO MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
V. EAGAN O UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Intervenor's Motion to Join
Non-Diverse Defendants (Dkt. # 14). Jon Marc Pulliam and
Christine Pulliam were granted leave to intervene as
plaintiffs and assert claims against defendant Sodexo
Management, Inc. (Sodexo). Dkt. # 13. The Pulliams now
request leave to file a complaint in intervention adding two
employees of Sodexo as parties, but joinder of these parties
would destroy diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. # 14. Plaintiff
Independent School District No. 1 of Tulsa County, Oklahoma
(the School District) and Sodexo object to the Pulliams'
request to add non-diverse defendants. Dkt. ## 16, 17.
School District filed this subrogation action in Tulsa County
District Court alleging that it was required to pay
worker's compensation benefits to Jon Marc Pulliam and
that Sodexo's negligence caused his injuries. Dkt. # 3-1.
The School District is a citizen of Oklahoma and Sodexo is a
New York corporation with its principal place of business in
Maryland, and the School District seeks over $75, 000 in
damages. The Pulliams filed a motion to intervene and claimed
that they were necessary and indispensable parties. Dkt. # 8.
Sodexo removed the case to this Court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction, but the motion to intervene had not
been ruled on by the state court before the case was removed.
Marc Pulliam states that he was an employee of the School
District and he suffered significant personal injuries for
which he received worker's compensation benefits. Dkt. #
8, at 1. The School District has alleged that Sodexo was
negligent in failing to properly train or supervise Jon Marc
Pulliam and that Sodexo's negligence caused his injuries.
Under Oklahoma law, the School District has a right to
recover against a tortfeasor who has caused it to pay
worker's compensation benefits to an injured worker, but
the injured worker may also be entitled to a share of any
recovery against the tortfeasor. Okla. Stat. tit. 85A, §
43. The Court granted the Pulliams' motion to intervene
as plaintiffs and directed them to file a complaint in
intervention, but the Court did not expressly authorize the
Pulliams to join additional parties in their complaint in
intervention. Dkt. # 13. The Pulliams have filed a complain
in intervention (Dkt. # 20) asserting claims against Sodexo
Pulliams have filed a motion seeking to add Sue Ann Bell and
Ann Marie Hayden as defendants in their complaint in
intervention. Dkt. # 14. They claim that the complaint in
intervention “seeks to establish liability against Bell
and Hayden, as primary negligent individual [d]efendants,
which, in turn, supports vicarious liability against
Sodexo.” Id. at 10. Sodexo and the School
District oppose the Pulliams' motion, and they argue that
the Pulliams are seeking to add Bell and Hayden as parties
for the sole purpose of destroying diversity jurisdiction.
Dkt. ## 16, 17.
Pulliams have filed a complaint in intervention and they are
now plaintiffs in this action. Under 28 U.S.C. §
1447(e), “[i]f after removal the plaintiff seeks to
join additional defendants whose joinder would destroy
subject matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or
permit joinder and remand the action to the State
court.” A plaintiff in a removed action does “not
have an absolute right to join such parties.”
McPhail v. Deere & Co., 529 F.3d 947, 951
(2008). Instead, the district court must determine whether
the plaintiff should be permitted to amend his complaint
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 15, and the district court should
initially determine whether the party to be joined is
indispensable under Fed.R.Civ.P. 19. Id. If a party
is indispensable, the district court is required to join the
party and remand the case, or the case should be dismissed if
joinder of the indispensable party is not feasible.
Id. However, if the absent party is not
indispensable, the district court should consider whether
joinder is appropriate under Fed.R.Civ.P. 20. Id. at
952. In exercising this discretion, district courts typically
consider “whether the amendment will result in undue
prejudice, whether the request was unduly and inexplicably
delayed, [and whether it] was offered in good faith . . .
.” Id. The district court may permit joinder
under Rule 20 and remand the case or deny joinder and retain
Court will initially consider whether Bell or Hayden are
indispensable parties under Rule 19. Under Rule 19, a
district court must determine (1) if the absent party is a
“required” party and (2) if the required party is
indispensable to the litigation. The Wilderness Society
v. Kane County, Utah, 581 F.3d 1198, 1217-18 (10th Cir.
2009). A non-party must be joined as a required party if:
(A) in that person's absence, the court cannot accord
complete relief among existing parties; or
(B) that person claims an interest relating to the subject of
the action and is so situated that disposing of the action in
the person's absence may:
(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's
ability to protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of
incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent
obligations because of the interest.
Civ. P. 19(a). If a court determines that a non-party is a
required party under Rule 19(a), the court must consider
whether “in equity and good conscience” the case
should proceed without the absent party or be dismissed.
Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri v. Norton, 240 F.3d
1250, 1259 (10th Cir. 2001). Rule 19 provides four factors
that a court must balance to make this determination:
(1) the extent to which a judgment rendered in the
person's absence might prejudice that person or ...