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Jones v. Forrest City Grocery Inc.

June 12, 2007

WASHINGTON LAMONT JONES, WILLIAM WARE, MICHAEL WARD, LAMAR COLE, PATRICK SPEARMAN, KIP RUCKER, WILL GREEN, JEROME KIDD, AND CHARLES ROGERS PLAINTIFFS
v.
FORREST CITY GROCERY INC.; DAVID COHN AND ALAN COHN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS AGENTS OF FORREST CITY GROCERY INC. DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wm. R. Wilson, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Pending are Plaintiffs' Third and Fourth Motions to Amend the Complaint;*fn1 Motion to Enlarge Discovery;*fn2 Motion for Contempt, and for Sanctions and Attorney's Fees;*fn3 and Motion for Class Certification.*fn4

Defendants responded to these Motions,*fn5 and filed the following: Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint;*fn6 Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Class Action;*fn7 Motion to Dismiss the Claims of Will Green, Sidney Parchman, and Charles Rogers;*fn8 Motion to Sever Plaintiffs William Ware, Patrick Spearman, Michael Ward, and Brandon Barrett for Improper Joinder;*fn9 and Motion to Compel.*fn10 Plaintiffs responded*fn11 to the Motion to Strike and Motion to Sever, but did not respond to the Motion to Dismiss or Motion to Compel. Defendants replied*fn12 to Plaintiffs' responses.

I. Background

This is a race discrimination case brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of race discrimination with respect to hiring, firing, promotions, work privileges, raises, discipline, and work assignments; and allege a racially hostile work-environment. A jury trial is scheduled for October 10, 2007.*fn13

The original Complaint named nine Plaintiffs: Patrick Spearman, Kip Rucker, Will Green, Sidney Parchman, Charles Rogers, Washington Lamont Jones, William Ware, Michael Ward, and Lamar Cole. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint*fn14 and a first and second Motion to Amend.*fn15 The second proposed Amended Complaint added eight new Plaintiffs: Eric George, Brandon Barrett, Eric Brandon, Lester Brooks, Cara Lattimore, Gregory Moore, Isuoma Shine, and Lee Dillard. With the eight new Plaintiffs, were eight new claims. In December 2006, the first Motion was denied as moot, and the second Motion was granted.*fn16 However, Plaintiffs never filed the second proposed Amended Complaint.

Instead of filing the proposed Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs filed third and fourth motions to amend. The third and fourth proposed Amended Complaints named nine Plaintiffs from the original Complaint, as well as those named in the second proposed Amended Complaint, and added eight more Plaintiffs: Jason Boyd, Vanessa Isom, Jimmie Kidd, Robert Glasper, Eric Foster, Tommy Howard, Patrick Stevenson, and Clyde Givans. Because Plaintiffs failed to file the second proposed Amended Complaint, they are asking to add a total of sixteen new Plaintiffs.

Defendants argue that filing an Amended Complaint adding these new parties and claims, at this late date, would be prejudicial. In addition, Defendants maintain that not one of the proposed amended complaints complies with Rule 20(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiffs also ask permission to serve more than twenty-five interrogatories.*fn17 They also seek sanctions because Defendants failed to produce certain requested documents.

Defendants argue that (1) Plaintiffs should not be allowed to file their second proposed Amended Complaint; (2) Plaintiffs' Class Action should be stricken because the pleadings do not comply with Local Rule 23.1; (3) the claims of Plaintiffs William Ware, Patrick Spearman, Michael Ward, and Brandon Barrett should be severed for improper joinder under Rules 20 and 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; (4) Plaintiffs Will Green, Sidney Parchman, and Charles Rogers should be dismissed because there are no allegations pertaining to these individuals in the Amended Complaint, and Plaintiffs have yet to file an Amended Complaint that includes the relevant claims; and (5) Plaintiffs should be compelled to make their initial disclosures and answer Defendants' First Consolidated Set of Interrogatories and Requests for Production.

II. Authority

A. Joinder

The purpose of permissive joinder is threefold: (1) to promote trial convenience, (2) to expedite dispute resolution, and (3) to prevent multiple law suits.*fn18 Permissive joinder falls within the Court's sound discretion and is to be liberally granted -- "the impulse is toward entertaining the broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to the parties."*fn19

Under Rule 20(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, multiple claims are properly joined if they (1) arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and (2) if any question of ...


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