United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION
BRAMLETTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court, on its own motion, addresses the question whether it
should cure the absence of diversity jurisdiction by dropping
nondiverse defendant Texas Eastern Transmission, LP, formerly
known as Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation (“Texas
Eastern”), from this action under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 21 and Newman-Green, Inc. v.
Alfonzo-Larrain, 490 U.S. 826 (1989).
Jackson sued Texas Eastern, Monsanto Company, and the
corporate successors of each. Doc. 2. Although Jackson's
complaint alleges jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship, Jackson and the defendants are not completely
diverse: Jackson and Texas Eastern are Mississippi citizens.
See Doc. 2, ¶¶1-10 (Jackson alleges complete
diversity); Docs. 18, 19 (Texas Eastern asserts it is a
Mississippi citizen); Doc. 35-1 (Texas Eastern offers a
declaration in support of its Mississippi
July 26, 2018 opinion, the Court decided it lacked diversity
jurisdiction and directed the parties to brief the question
whether Texas Eastern is a dispensable party the Court should
drop from the action under Rule 21. See Doc. 32. The parties
complied. See Docs. 36, 37, 38. Each party concludes that the
Court can and should drop Texas Eastern from this action
under Rule 21. See Doc. 36, p.1 (Texas Eastern); Doc. 37, p.1
(Jackson); Doc. 38, p.1 (Monsanto defendants).
Court may drop a party at any time on just terms.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Rule 21 “invest[s] district courts
with authority to allow a dispensable nondiverse party to be
dropped” to cure the absence of subject-matter
jurisdiction. Newman-Green, 490 U.S. at 832. The parties
assert -- and the Court agrees -- that nondiverse defendant
Texas Eastern is a dispensable party the Court may drop under
Rule 21 and Newman-Green.
decide if Texas Eastern is a dispensable party, the Court
looks to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 and considers two
things. First -- the Court asks whether Texas Eastern is a
required party under Rule 19(a). Second -- if Texas Eastern
is a Rule 19(a) required party, but cannot be joined because
its presence would destroy jurisdiction, the Court proceeds
to Rule 19(b). The Court need not consider Rule 19(b) if
Texas Eastern is not a required party under Rule 19(a).
Temple v. Synthes Corp., 498 U.S. 5, 8 (1990).
joint tortfeasors are not required parties under Rule 19(a).
Temple, 498 U.S. at 7. Joint tortfeasors are “two or
more tortfeasors who contributed to the claimant's injury
and who may be joined as defendants in the same
lawsuit.” Black's Law Dictionary 1718 (10th ed.
complaint casts Texas Eastern and the Monsanto defendants as
joint tortfeasors. See Doc. 2, ¶14. In particular,
Jackson's complaint alleges that Texas Eastern's and
Monsanto's conduct combined to cause Jackson to develop
chondrosarcoma. See, e.g., Doc. 2, ¶59. Because Texas
Eastern is an alleged joint tortfeasor, it is not a required
party under Rule 19(a). See National Cas. Co. v.
Gonzalez, 637 Fed.Appx. 812, 815 (5th Cir. 2016) (per
curiam) (applying Temple and holding that the district court
abused its discretion when it determined that an alleged
joint tortfeasor was a Rule 19(a) required party); August
v. Boyd Gaming Corp., 135 Fed.Appx. 731, 734 (5th Cir.
2005) (per curiam) (same).
nondiverse defendant Texas Eastern is a dispensable party,
the Court elects to cure the absence of diversity
jurisdiction by dropping Texas Eastern from this action under
Rule 21 and Newman-Green. The Court retains jurisdiction over
the remaining parties.
IT IS ORDERED that defendant Texas Eastern Transmission, LP,
formerly known as Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, is
DISMISSED from this action WITHOUT PREJUDICE under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...