The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARVEY BARTLE, III, District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND PRETRIAL ORDER NO.
To address misjoinder issues, and to facilitate the efficient
administration of discovery, we issued Pretrial Order No. ("PTO")
3370, which requires the severance of multi-plaintiff actions in
MDL No. 1203. See PTO No. 3370, § II (Mar. 24, 2004). Pursuant
to Paragraph 6 of PTO No. 3370, the Special Discovery Master
identified the above-referenced action for severance. See id.
at ¶ 5. This action involves twelve plaintiffs who have asserted
various claims against Wyeth and John Does 1-50.*fn1
Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in
part that "[p]arties may be dropped or added by order of the court . . . at any stage of the action and on such terms as are
just." Pursuant to this rule, courts may sever misjoined parties
when their claims do not arise out of the same transaction,
occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences, and the
claims will not involve a question of law or fact common to all
parties. See Fed.R. Civ. P. 20; see also Norwood Co. v.
RLI Ins. Co., et al., Civ. A. No. 01-6153, 2002 WL 523946, at *1
(E.D. Pa. Apr. 4, 2002). In addition, courts may sever parties
for the "efficient administration of justice." See Moore's
Federal Practice § 21.02(1); see also Official Comm. of
Unsecured Creditors v. Shapiro, et al., 190 F.R.D. 352, 355
(E.D. Pa. 2000). An action severed under Rule 21 becomes an
independent action. See Degen v. Bunce, et al., Civ. A. No.
93-5674, 1995 WL 120483, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 13, 1995).
The claims asserted by the plaintiffs against Wyeth and the
other defendants in this action are based upon plaintiffs'
alleged ingestion of the diet drugs Pondimin and/or Redux and
injuries they allegedly sustained as a result of said ingestion.
The claims are not otherwise related. The grouping of such claims
in a single action does not satisfy the transaction or occurrence
requirement of Rule 20. Accordingly, plaintiffs in this action
In addition, such multi-plaintiff actions with unrelated claims
impede the efficient administration of MDL No. 1203. Oftentimes it is unclear from the Complaint which plaintiffs are
asserting which claims against which named defendants.
Multi-plaintiff actions complicate discovery and interfere with
its completion in accordance with assigned deadlines.
Severance of this and other multi-plaintiff actions will
require each plaintiff to file a Severed and Amended Complaint
that provides the necessary information about his or her claims.
Thereafter, new deadlines will be assigned to govern discovery in
each individual case, thereby allowing for the completion of
discovery and the resolution of issues that may arise on a
case-by-case basis. Proceeding in this manner streamlines the
remand of actions to the appropriate transferor courts and
minimizes the burden placed upon those courts due to the volume
of litigation in MDL No. 1203.
Therefore, we will order this action to be severed into
separate actions. Each plaintiff shall file a Severed and Amended
Complaint no later than sixty (60) days from the date of this
Order pursuant to Paragraphs 7, 8, 10, and 12 of PTO No. 3370,
each of which shall be assigned a separate, but related, Civil
Action Number. No new claims or new defendants may be added
without prior leave of court. See PTO No. 3370, § II, ¶ 10. In
addition, because an action severed under Rule 21 becomes an
independent action, each plaintiff who files a Severed and
Amended Complaint, except for the first named plaintiff who files
a Severed and Amended Complaint, shall remit to the Clerk of Court a filing fee
in the amount of $150.00, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1914. Failure
to remit this fee will result in the dismissal with prejudice of
any and all claims asserted by the plaintiff. PRETRIAL ORDER NO.
AND NOW, this day of September, 2004, for the reasons set forth
in the accompanying Memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that:
(1) pursuant to Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the above-captioned action shall be severed into
separate civil actions;
(2) each plaintiff and his or her derivative claimants shall
submit for filing a Severed and Amended Complaint no later than
sixty (60) days of the date of this Order and in accordance with
Paragraphs 7, 8, 10, and 12 of Pretrial Order No. 3370;
(3) the Clerk of Court shall assign a separate Civil Action
Number, which shall be related to Civil Action Number 03-20248,
for each Severed and Amended Complaint filed pursuant to this
Order; (4) a filing fee in the amount of $150.00 shall be remitted to
the Clerk of Court for each Severed and Amended Complaint, except
for the first named plaintiff who files a Severed and Amended
(5) failure to remit the filing fee with a Severed and Amended
Complaint, except as noted in Paragraph (4), will result in the
dismissal with prejudice of ...