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Orengo v. Berkel & Company Contractors, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 28, 2016

JULIO ORENGO
v.
BERKEL & COMPANY CONTRACTORS, INC.

          MEMORANDUM

          R. BARCLAY SURRICK, J.

         Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Joinder pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a) and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. For the following reasons, the Motion for Joinder is denied, and the Motion to Amend is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a highway collision between Defendant's vehicle and Plaintiff Julio Orengo. On May 29, 2016, at 1:04 a.m., Plaintiff alleges that he was walking on Pulaski Highway in Bear, Delaware. (Compl. ¶ 5, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that while walking on the highway, Defendant's vehicle ran into him, causing serious injuries. (Id. ¶¶ 7, 12.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was negligently operating the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 9.)

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff is a resident of Pennsylvania and Defendant is a business registered in Kansas. (Id. ¶¶ 1, 2.) Defendant filed its Answer on October 27, 2016.[1] (Def.'s Answer, ECF No. 5.) On November 28, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion for Joinder and Memorandum in Support of the Motion. (Pl.'s Mot. Joinder, ECF No. 14; Pl.'s Mem. Joinder, ECF No. 14.) The same day, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Amend and Memorandum in Support of the Motion. (Pl.'s Mot. Amend, ECF No. 15; Pl.'s Mem. Amend, ECF No. 15.) On December 9, 2016, Defendant filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Joinder and Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Response. (Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 16; Def.'s Mem., ECF No. 16.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff's Motion for Joinder seeks to join as a party the alleged driver of Defendant's vehicle, Matthew Dale Bush (“Bush”). (Pl.'s Mot. Joinder 2.) Plaintiff's Motion to Amend seeks to amend the Complaint to add a claim of negligent entrustment against Defendant. (Pl.'s Mot. Amend 2.)

         A. Motion for Joinder

         1. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a) states the circumstances under which a third party

(i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect the interest; or
(ii) leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of the interest.

         In determining whether an absent party must be joined under Rule 19(a), a court must determine if it is “a necessary party who should be joined in the action.” Bank of Am. Nat'l Trust and Sav. Ass'n. v. Hotel Rittenhouse Assocs., 844 F.2d 1050, 1053 (3d Cir. 1988) (citing Abel v. Am. Art Analog, Inc., 838 F.2d 691, 695 (3d Cir. 1998)). If the court determines that the absent party is necessary, then the court must determine if it is feasible for the party to be joined. Id. at 1053-54. If the court determines that the absent party is not necessary, “the inquiry need go no further.” Id. at 1054. The moving party has the burden of proving why the party is required to be joined under Rule 19(a). United States v. Payment Processing Ctr., LLC, No. 06-0725, 2006 WL 2990392, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2006).

         To determine whether the absent party is necessary, a court must first determine whether “complete relief” can be granted to the existing parties, absent the joinder. Janney Montgomery Scott, Inc. v. Shepard Niles, Inc., 11 F.3d 399, 405 (3d Cir. 1993). “Complete relief . . . refers to relief as between the persons already parties, and not as between a party and the absent person whose joinder is sought.” Sindia Expedition, Inc. v. Wrecked & Abandoned Vessel, Known as The Sindia, 895 F.2d 116, 121 (3d Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted). A court must then determine if a third party would be subjected to “needless multiple litigation.” Id. at 122 (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). 2.Analysis Plaintiff argues that Bush must be joined to this matter under Rule 19(a) as a necessary and indispensable party. (Pl.'s Mem. Joinder 3.) Plaintiff argues that without Bush the Court cannot provide complete relief to Plaintiff. (Id.) As support, Plaintiff states that Bush was the person driving Defendant Berkel's vehicle, and at the time was an employee and/or agent of Defendant Berkel. (Pl.'s Mot. Joinder 2.) Plaintiff also argues that the “interests of justice and judicial ...


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