United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. Crabtree, United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on defendants Post-Acute
Medical, LLC and Heartland Rehabilitation Hospital, LLC's
(“Post-Acute Medical and Heartland defendants”)
Motion to Sever. Doc. 10. Plaintiff Gene Finke has filed a
Memorandum in Opposition. Doc. 12. And, Post-Acute Medical
and Heartland defendants have filed a Reply. Doc. 17. For
reasons explained below, the court denies the Motion to
alleges the following facts in his First Amended Complaint.
Doc. 4. Plaintiff sustained a left ankle injury when he fell
at a nursing home on August 8, 2017. Id. ¶ 2.
When he fell, plaintiff was under the care of one set of
defendants (“Ensign defendants”). Id.
After surgery to repair the ankle, plaintiff moved to the
Rehab Hospital of Overland Park, where he was under the care
of Post-Acute Medical and Heartland defendants. Id.
¶ 3. While at the Rehab Hospital, plaintiff sustained a
hematoma on his right leg on October 27, 2017, when a staff
member pinched his leg while moving him in a lift.
Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff brings this lawsuit against
both the Ensign defendants and the Post-Acute Medical and
Heartland defendants, alleging he was “permanently
injured due to defendants' conduct.” Id.
Rule 20, a plaintiff may join defendants in one action if
plaintiff asserts a right to relief “arising out of the
same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences; and any question of law of law or fact common to
all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed. R. Civ.
P 20(a)(2). “Transaction is a word of flexible meaning.
It may comprehend a series of many occurrences, depending not
so much upon the immediateness of their connection as upon
their logical relationship.” DIRECTV, Inc. v.
Barrett, 220 F.R.D. 630, 631 (D. Kan. 2004) (quoting
Mosley v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1333
(8th Cir. 1974)). Under Rule 21, the court has discretion to
sever claims if joinder will impose prejudice, expense, or
delay. Biglow v. Boeing, Co., 201 F.R.D. 519, 520
(D. Kan. 2001). But “the impulse is toward entertaining
the broadest possible scope of action consistent with
fairness toward the parties; joinder of claims, parties, and
remedies is strongly encouraged.” United Mine
Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 724 (1966).
Medical and Heartland defendants argue the court should sever
plaintiff's claims because plaintiff's ankle and leg
injuries are two distinct injuries caused by two sets of
unrelated parties at different times. Doc. 11 at 4. The court
disagrees. Plaintiff satisfies the “transaction or
occurrence” standard because a logical relationship
exists between the two injuries. Plaintiff's ankle injury
while in the care of the Ensign defendants caused him to move
to Post-Acute Medical and Heartland defendants'
rehabilitation facility. Plaintiff would not have been their
patient if not for the ankle injury, nor would he have
required a lift to move. Thus, the court finds that
plaintiff's two injuries sufficiently arise out of the
same series of transactions to satisfy Rule 20's joinder
also satisfies the common question requirement. Even though
plaintiff's ankle fracture and hematoma are separate
injuries, plaintiff alleges both contributed to
“prevent[ ] him from ever ambulating independently
again.” Doc. 12 at 2. So the potential negligence of
each set of defendants may be relevant to the other's
liability. If the court severs the claims, Post-Acute Medical
and Heartland defendants could argue that non-parties (the
Ensign defendants) are responsible for this outcome. A common
question of fact exists about plaintiff's medical history
and condition. Post-Acute Medical and Heartland defendants
argue that joining the claims will force them to participate
in irrelevant discovery about plaintiff's ankle fracture.
But discovery of plaintiff's medical history is relevant
to their defense that they are not liable for plaintiff's
injuries. Also, nothing requires these defendants to attend
any irrelevant depositions. Thus, the interest in efficiency
outweighs any prejudicial effect. For all these reasons, the
court concludes that joinder under Rule 20 is proper in this
case. Exercising its discretion, the court denies the Motion
IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT Post-Acute
Medical and Heartland defendants' Motion to Sever (Doc.
10) is denied.