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Alexander v. Calzetta

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 18, 2017

D'ANDRE ALEXANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
NICHOLAS CALZETTA, et al. Defendants.

          Mark A. Goldsmith District Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING STATE DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO SEVER BASED ON MISJOINDER OF PARTIES AND CLAIMS (DE 20)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. OPINION:

         A. Plaintiff brings his lawsuit against 18 defendants associated with various MDOC locations.

         D'Andre Alexander (#731077) is currently incarcerated at the MDOC's Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF) in New Haven, Michigan. See www.michigan.gov/corrections, “Offender Search.” On September 8, 2016, while incarcerated at MRF, Hoosier filed the instant lawsuit against 18 defendants, who are described as follows:

• nine (9) Defendants are associated with the MDOC's Marquette Branch Prison (MBP) (Calzetta, Govern, Giesen, Viitala, LaCount, Niemisto, Huss, Salmi and Meden), which is located in Michigan s upper peninsula,
• eight (8) Defendants are associated with the MDOC's Woodland Center Correctional Facility (WCC) (Saad, Rosen, Watkins, Lewis, Lee, Slaughter, Houston and Idemudia), which is located in Whitmore Lake, Michigan, and
• one (1) Defendant is associated with the MDOC's Office of Legal Affairs (Johnson).

(DE 1 at 2 ¶¶ 5-12.) The facts underlying his complaint span the period from February 2, 2015, when Plaintiff was incarcerated at MBP, through February 2016, when Plaintiff was incarcerated at WCC. (DE 1 at 2 ¶ 4, DE 1 at 3-7 ¶¶ 13-48.)

         This case has been referred to me to conduct pretrial matters. (DE 8.)[1]

         B. Eight defendants have appeared, each of whom is associated with MBP.

         Of the eight defendants who have appeared, seven are State Defendants (Nicholas Calzetta, Fred Govern, Darrin Viitala, Mandi Salmi, Kenneth Niemisto, Kristine Giesen, and Chad LaCount) and one is Terry Meden, M.D. (DE 1 ¶¶ 5-6, 8-9; DEs 19, 25 and 26; see also DEs 10-16 and 18.) Each of these defendants is identified as being associated with MBP. (DE 1 ¶¶ 5-9.)[2]

         On November 29, 2016, the seven State Defendants filed a motion to sever based on misjoinder of parties and claims. (DE 20.) A response, a reply and a sur-reply have been filed. (DEs 22-24.) In addition, Defendant Meden has filed a concurrence in and adoption of the State Defendants' motion. (DE 27.) Attempts at service upon the ten remaining Defendants are ongoing. (DE 28-30.)

         C. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20 (“Permissive Joinder of Parties”)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 provides as follows with respect to joinder of multiple parties in a single lawsuit:

Persons . . . may be joined in one action as defendants 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 of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) (emphases added). Thus, when joining multiple defendants in a single action, both elements of the two-part test of Rule 20(a)(2) must be met.[3]

         The joinder of claims, parties, and remedies is “strongly encouraged” when appropriate to further judicial economy and fairness. United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966). However, parties are not entitled to join multiple defendants in a single suit when the claims are unrelated. See, e.g., Payne v. Corr. Corp. of America, 194 F.3d 313, at *1 (6th Cir. 1999) (concluding severance was proper where the claims did not arise from the same transactions or occurrences); see also Michaels Bldg. Co. v. Ameritrust Co., N.A., 848 F.2d 674, 682 (6th Cir. 1988) (upholding the trial court's dismissal of “wholly unrelated claims” against misjoined parties).

         D. Discussion

         1. The alleged facts underlying Plaintiffs complaint span a one year period and took place at two different correctional facilities.

         The factual allegations underlying Plaintiffs complaint, and the locations discussed ...


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