United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
STARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Bifurcate and
Stay (“Motion to Bifurcate”)  filed by
Defendant Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company.
After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the record,
and the applicable law, the Court finds that this motion is
not well taken and should be denied.
action is centered around a fire that destroyed a property
owned by Plaintiffs Sharon Smith and Shenan Smith
(collectively “Plaintiffs”). Plaintiffs had an
insurance policy on this property from Defendant Allstate
Vehicle and Property Insurance Company
(“Allstate”). In denying Plaintiffs' claims
after the fire, Allstate relied on the determination by
Defendant EFI Global (“EFI”) that the fire was
incendiary in nature and denied the claims on the basis that
the fire was arson. Plaintiffs filed suit in this Court on
February 16, 2018, bringing claims of negligence, gross
negligence, conspiracy, and negligent and intentional
emotional distress against Allstate and EFI, and bringing
additional claims of failure to pay policy benefits, bad
faith denial, breach of contract, and breach of covenant of
good faith and fair dealing against Allstate.
now brings its Motion to Bifurcate , arguing that the
claims against it should be severed and stayed until the
claims against EFI are decided.
Motion to Bifurcate  is brought under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 42(b), which allows for bifurcation
“[f]or convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite
and economize.” The decision to bifurcate is left
within the sound discretion of the district court.
Conkling v. Turner, 18 F.3d 1285, 1293 (5th Cir.
1994). When evaluating a motion brought under this rule, this
Court typically follows the factors articulated in
Thompson v. Sanderson Farms, Inc., Nos.
3:04-CV-837-BN, 3:04-CV-839-BN, 3:04-CV-840-BN, 2006 WL
2559852, at *4 (S.D.Miss. Sept. 1, 2006). The Court
(1) whether the claims arise out of the same transaction or
occurrence; (2) whether the posture of discovery as to the
respective claims suggests that they should not be tried
jointly; (3) whether the claims present common questions of
fact or law; (4) whether the claims will require testimony of
different witnesses and documentary proof; and (5) the
prejudice to either party in the event separate trials are
Id.; see also Butcher v. Allstate Ins. Co.,
No. 1:06-CV-423-KS-MTP, 2008 WL 5101339, at *3 (Nov. 26,
2008). All five of these factors weigh in favor of denying
first, third, and fourth factors, the claims against EFI
unquestionably arise out of the same transaction or
occurrence, involve common questions of fact or law, and will
not require testimony of different witnesses and documentary
proof as the claims against Allstate because the claims
against EFI are brought against both Allstate and
EFI. In fact, there is no claim alleged in the Complaint 
brought only against EFI. Furthermore, Allstate's
argument that the conspiracy claim against EFI is based on
“an agreement which include in excess of one hundred
losses, ” not just Plaintiffs' loss, is a
mischaracterization of the allegations in the Complaint .
(Rebuttal  at p. 5.) The actual allegations of the
Complaint  are that EFI and Allstate “together
tortiously conspired to manufacture ‘evidence' and
srongfully [sic] and recklessly deny Plaintiffs' claims,
” making no mention of losses from other wrongfully
denied claims. (Complaint  at ¶ 50.)
second factor weighs against bifurcation because the posture
of discovery as to the claims in this case does not suggest
that bifurcation is warranted. The posture of discovery
suggests nothing as of yet because discovery has not begun.
fifth factor weighs in favor of denial of the motion. Despite
Allstate's arguments that it will be prejudiced by having
to litigate the claims against it before a determination is
made as to the claims against EFI, Allstate will still need
to litigate those claims regardless of the outcome of the
claims against EFI. Furthermore, the additional burden placed
on the Plaintiffs in separating these claims, which are based
on the same occurrence and involve common question of law and
fact, would unduly prejudice them.
because all the Thompson factors weigh against
bifurcation, the Motion to Bifurcate  will be