United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Plaintiff, Joyce Snyder, filed her Complaint  on November
30, 2017, alleging both a Title VII claim against L-3
Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC and a failure to timely
arbitrate claim against IUE-CWA Industrial Division of the
Communications Workers of America. Presently before the Court
is L-3 Communications' Motion to Sever .
and Procedural Background
Communications hired the Plaintiff to work in its aircraft
service department. While working there, the Plaintiff was a
member of the Communication Workers Union and worked pursuant
to a Collective Bargaining Agreement entered into between
these Defendants. In 2014, the Plaintiff alleges that she was
sexually harassed by a male co-worker. She filed a charge
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaining
about the harassment and was discharged from her employment.
Plaintiff was later re-hired by L-3 Communications as a part
of a settlement with the Commission. According to the
Plaintiff, after she was rehired, gender discrimination and
sexual harassment continued. Six months after returning to
work, the Plaintiff received several reprimands for offenses
she claims her male co-workers did not receive for identical
offenses. The Plaintiff was eventually discharged a second
case, the Plaintiff alleges a Title VII claim against L-3
Communications, alleging that she was retaliated against
after filing a charge with the Commission and discharged
because of her gender. Separate from the Title VII claim, the
Plaintiff also alleges that the Communication Workers Union
failed to timely arbitrate her grievance as required under
the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This Agreement provides
that any disciplinary action must be issued within ten full
work days of the company's knowledge of a rule violation.
The Plaintiff asserts that she was terminated outside of the
ten-day window prescribed by the Collective Bargaining
Agreement. According to the Plaintiff, after L-3
Communications fired her, the Communication Workers Union
failed to timely pursue arbitration on her behalf as required
by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. L-3 Communications
filed a Motion to Sever  seeking to separate the
Plaintiff's two claims.
Communication seeks severance under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 21. District Courts consider five factors when
considering severance: (1) whether the claims arise out of
the same transaction or occurrence; (2) whether the claims
present some common questions of law or fact; (3) whether
settlement of the claims or judicial economy would be
facilitated by severance; (4) whether prejudice would be
avoided if severance were granted; and (5) whether different
witnesses and documentary proof are required for the separate
claims. Super Truck Stop 35-55, LLC v. Nissi Ins. Sols.,
LLC, No. 4:15-CV-125-DMB, 2016 WL 5477725, at *9 (N.D.
Miss. Sept. 29, 2016). Under Rule 21, a district court has
broad discretion in severance of claims. Conkling v.
Turner, 18 F.3d 1285, 1293 (5th Cir. 1994).
first factor asks whether the claims arise out of the same
transaction or occurrence. L-3 Communications argues that the
Title VII claim deals exclusively with the reasons the
Plaintiff was discharged while the failure to timely
arbitrate claim addresses L-3 Communications' alleged
violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In
response, the Plaintiff argues that the claims are
inextricably intertwined because the claim against the
Communication Workers Union relies on proof that she was
terminated without cause, just like the Title VII claim
against L-3 Communications.
Fifth Circuit has not expressly addressed the
“transaction or occurrence” factor under the
five-prong severance test used for Rule 21 severance
analysis. It has applied a “logical relationship”
test to Rule 13(a) which employs the same “transaction
or occurrence” analysis. Montgomery Elevator Co. v.
Bldg. Eng'g Servs. Co., Inc., 730 F.2d 377, 380 (5th
Cir. 1984). District Courts within the Fifth Circuit have
used the logical relationship test when analyzing the
“transaction or occurrence” factor under other
rules. See Cooper v. Meritor, Inc., 2018 WL 1934065,
at *2 (N.D. Miss. April 24, 2018) (applying the logical
relationship test to Rule 20). Absent any indication that
“transaction or occurrence” under Rule 21 should
be analyzed under a different test, the Court will employ the
Fifth Circuit's logical relationship test to determine
whether the claims arise out of the same transaction or
occurrence. The Court acknowledges that Rule 21 generally
addresses misjoinder and nonjoinder of parties, however, the
last sentence looks at severance of claims, which is relevant
here. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 21.
logical relation test is a loose standard which permits a
broad realistic interpretation in the interest of avoiding a
multiplicity of suits. Nat'l Liab. & Fire Ins.
Co. v. R & R Marine, Inc., 756 F.3d 825, 835 (5th
Cir. 2014). The Fifth Circuit gives weight to whether the
claims at issue share an ‘aggregate of operative
facts.' N.Y. Life Ins. Co. v. Deshotel, 142 F.3d
873, 882 (5th Cir. 1998). Operative facts are “those
relating directly to the . . . claims” in an action.
Cooper, 2018 WL 1934065, at *2 (citing
Wisey's #1 LLC v. Nimellis Pizzeria LLC, 952
F.Supp.2d 184, 190 (D.D.C. 2013)).
facts that gave rise to this dispute are generally the same
or substantially the same. Both claims essentially stem from
Snyder's employment with L-3 Communications. Her
individual legal claims, however, are mostly supported by
distinctly different operative facts.
the Title VII claim, the facts must prove that she was
sexually harassed by her male co-workers and was fired
because of her gender. In addition, she must pull from those
facts to show that she was retaliated against after she filed
a charge with the Commission.
separate claim against the Communications Workers Union
extracts its operative facts from a different part of the
case. The operative facts for her claim against the union
must show that she was reprimanded or fired outside of the
ten-day window as prescribed in the Collective Bargaining
Agreement, and that arbitration on her behalf was not timey
sought. These facts are unrelated to the facts that gave rise
to the sexual harassment claim. Because the operative facts
relevant to ...