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JAMIE H. TURNER v. LAURA A. HAYNES

MAY 21, 1986

JAMIE H. TURNER
v.
LAURA A. HAYNES



BEFORE WALKER, PRATHER AND ANDERSON

PRATHER, J., FOR THE COURT:

This appeal requires the Court to interpret Rule 17 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, involving the question of real parties in interest. Appellant had her negligence case dismissed when she refused to join her insurance carrier, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, under Rule 17 (b), Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. From that dismissal, the appellant now perfects this appeal and assigns the following error:

It was reversible error for the circuit court to dismiss this action for refusal of the plaintiff to join Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi as a plaintiff and to refuse to give effect to the Full and Final Waiver of All Subrogation Rights executed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the terms of the ratification provision of Rule 17 (a), Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. This Court reverses and remands for further proceedings.

 I.

 Jamie H. Turner and Laura A. Haynes were involved in an automobile accident in January of 1984 on the campus of the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Mississippi. The details of the accident and the injuries and damages sustained by Jamie Turner are not relevant to the issue on appeal. Thereafter, Blue Cross/Blue Shield paid medical insurance benefits to Jamie Turner, and the insurance company became subrogated to the extent of medical benefits paid to Turner on her claim against Laura Haynes. However, at that time Blue Cross/Blue Shield executed, through W. G. Shackleford, Executive Vice-President, a release purporting to" fully and finally relinquish and forever release any and all subrogation rights and interests "Blue Cross/Blue Shield had in the suit filed by Jamie H. Turner. The release recited that" for and in consideration of reimbursement of insurance proceeds paid "to Turner by Blue Cross that Blue Cross fully and finally relinquished and forever released any and all subrogation rights and interests it had for recovery of Turner's claim for medical benefits arising out of her accident with Haynes," and specifically releases its interest as subrogee under Rule 17 (b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. "

 In August of 1984, Jamie H. Turner filed a negligence suit against Laura Haynes for her full claim, including medical insurance coverage. Haynes, in turn, filed a motion to dismiss for failure to join an indispensable party pursuant to Rule 17 (b) of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure. In October of 1984, Jamie Turner filed a document entitled" Full and Final Release of all Subrogation Rights. "

 After a hearing the defendant's motion to dismiss was granted. From that dismissal, the plaintiff/appellant now appeals.

 II.

 A history of the development of Rule 17 sheds light on our deliberation. From Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure 1541, page 633 (1971), we find such an historical analysis and quote:

 Under the restrictive common law practice, an action had to be brought in the name of the person having legal title to the right being asserted. Persons who possessed only equitable or beneficial interests, such as assignees and subrogees, could not sue in their own names. Instead, the legal owner was required to bring suit to the use of the person beneficially interested; realistically viewed, the latter was the real plaintiff and the legal owner merely had the status of a nominal party. The practice in the equity courts was more permissive. A person having an equitable or beneficial interest could sue in his own name, although the owner of the legal title typically was joined in order to bind him to the decree.

 When the codes combined law and equity, they discarded the cumbersome procedures for" use "actions at law and simply provided that actions should be prosecuted in the name of" the real party in interest. "After 1872 the federal courts were required to follow these state code provisions in actions at law under the Conformity Act, and a comparable practice developed on the equity side of the federal courts. But a federal law court in a state that had not adopted code procedure was obliged to follow the common law rule.

 See also, Symposium on Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure, 52 Miss. L.J. 1, 39 (1982). Under the Federal Rules the

 application of this rule created or destroyed diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.

 The function of Rule 17 is to protect litigants from harrassment and multiple suits by persons who would not be bound by the principles of res judicata and to enable the defendant to present his defenses against the proper persons and to proceed to ...


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