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Marion v. New Flyer of America, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

February 7, 2018

WILLIAM MARION, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW FLYER OF AMERICA, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SEVERANCE AND SEPARATE TRIALS

          BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant New Flyer of America, Inc.'s (“New Flyer”) motion for severance and separate trials. Dkt. 14. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and hereby denies the motion for the reasons stated herein.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 29, 2016, Plaintiffs William Marion (“Marion”) and Raymond Moore (“Moore”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed their complaint against King County Department of Transportation, Metro Transit Division, New Flyer, and twenty “John Doe” defendants. On October 20, 2017, the Pierce County Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants King County Department of Transportation and Metro Transit Division, leaving New Flyer as the sole remaining defendant. See Dkt. 1-2.

         On October 30, 2017, New Flyer moved to sever the action and conduct separate trials on the respective claims of Marion and Moore. Dkt. 6-2 at 119-25. On November 15, 2017, Plaintiff responded to the motion. Id. at 170-76. On November 15, 2017, New Flyer withdrew its motion to sever the trial before Pierce County. See Dkt. 16 at 2. Then, on November 16, 2017, New Flyer removed the action to this Court based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1466. Dkt. 1.

         On December 19, 2017, New Flyer filed a renewed motion to sever the action and conduct separate trials on Plaintiffs' respective claims. Dkt. 14. On January 3, 2017, Plaintiffs responded in opposition.[1] Dkt. 16. On January 5, 2017, New Flyer replied. Dkt. 17.

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are both journey-level bus mechanics for the King County Department of Transportation. On May 9, 2016, Marion was allegedly electrocuted while servicing Bus No. 4369. Dkt. 1-1 at 5; Dkt. 15 at 8.[2] On August 30, 2016, Moore was allegedly electrocuted while servicing Bus No. 4302. Dkt. 1-1 at 5.[3] Plaintiffs assert claims against New Flyer for product liability and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 7. From the parties' arguments on the motion, it is suggested that Plaintiffs' claims are predicated on a theory that they were electrocuted as a proximate result of a defective “hot coach detector” on the buses manufactured by New Flyer.[4]

         III. DISCUSSION

         New Flyer moves to sever Plaintiffs' claims and conduct separate trials. Dkt. 14. New Flyer first argues that its motion should be granted on the basis that Plaintiffs' claims do not satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20. Id. at 5-7. Under that rule:

         Persons may join in one action as plaintiffs if:

(A) they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences; and
(B) any question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise in the action.

Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 20. New Flyer argues that Plaintiffs cannot satisfy Rule 20 on the basis that Plaintiffs' claims do not arise out of the same transaction. Notably, there is no clearly articulated dispute over whether a common question of fact exists as to whether the buses both suffered from ...


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