United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the Court is Plaintiff's "Motion to Amend the
Complaint to Add Greg J. Waunford-Brown as a Party-Defendant
and Dismiss Claims to the King Green Jacket." (Doc. 64.)
As the title suggests, Plaintiff requests the Court (1) add
Greg J. Waunford-Brown as a party-defendant and (2) dismiss
all claims related to the King Green Jacket (the "King
Jacket"). Plaintiff wants to add Mr. Waunford-Brown
because Mr. Waunford-Brown is the consignor of the Nelson
Green Jacket (the "Nelson Jacket"). Plaintiff wants
to dismiss all claims related to the King Jacket because the
consignor of the King Jacket has withdrawn the jacket from
Defendant's auction and wishes to engage in private
arbitration with Plaintiff. Upon consideration, the Court
GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.
MOTION TO ADD Mr. WAUNFORD-BROWN
Rule of Civil Procedure 20(a)(2) governs the permissive
joinder of defendants to a lawsuit:
well as a vessel, cargo, or other property subject to
admiralty process in rem-may be joined in one action as
(A) any right to relief is asserted against them 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 defendants will
arise in the action.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a) (2) (A)-(B) . In the Eleventh Circuit,
"joinder is 'strongly encouraged' and the rules
are construed generously "toward entertaining the
broadest possible scope of action consistent with fairness to
the parties.'" Vanover v. NCO Fin. Servs.,
Inc., 857 F.3d 833, 839 (11th Cir. 2017) (quoting
United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715,
724 (1966)). Additionally, "district courts have
'broad discretion to join parties or not and that
decision will not be overturned as long as it falls within
the district court's range of choices.'"
Id. (quoting Swan v. Ray, 293 F.3d 1252,
1253 (11th Cir. 2002)).
operative complaint in this case states that the present
action is, among other things, "an action for trover,
and related relief, seeking the return of property stolen
from Plaintiff's premises at 2604 Washington Road,
Augusta, Georgia by third parties, which property is now in
the possession of Defendant as a consignee or other
agent." (Doc. 31, ¶ 7.) The Georgia statute which
"'embodies the common law action of
trover'" is O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1. Levenson v.
Word, 668 S.E.2d 763, 765 (Ga.Ct.App. 2008) (quoting
Grant v. Newsome, 411 S.E.2d 796 (Ga. 1991)).
O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1 states that "the owner of
personalty is entitled to its possession. Any deprivation of
such possession is a tort for which an action lies."
desires to add Mr. Waunford-Brown "to resolve the issue
of the right to title and possession of the [Nelson
Jacket]." (Doc. 64, at 1.) Plaintiff claims that through
the discovery process it has "identified [Mr.
Waunford-Brown] as the consignor who currently claims
ownership of the [Nelson Jacket]." (IdJ It also alleges
that "Mr. Waunford-Brown procured the stolen [Nelson
Jacket] from Defendant in 2012 in a private sale."
Court finds that Plaintiff's addition of Mr.
Waunford-Brown complies with both requirements of Rule
20(a)(2). First, Plaintiff asserts a right to relief against
Mr. Waunford-Brown that "arises out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences." Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2)(A). The most
important question with respect to Plaintiff's claims to
the Nelson Jacket is who owns the Nelson Jacket. Defendant
refuses to concede that Plaintiff owns the Nelson Jacket
because it wants to auction the Nelson Jacket, and Mr.
Waunford-Brown consigned the Nelson Jacket to Defendant to
put up for auction. Thus, the right to relief arises out of
the same transaction or occurrence in that it arises out of
the attempted sale of the Nelson Jacket by Mr. Waunford-Brown
through Defendant. Second, multiple "question[s] of law
or fact common to all defendants will arise in the
action." Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2)(B). Defendant's
proper possession of the Nelson Jacket as consignee depends,
at least in part, upon Mr. Waunford-Brown's proper
possession as consignor. Therefore, both Defendant and Mr.
Waunford-Brown will have to litigate a common question of law
and fact. Accordingly, Rule 20 allows Plaintiff to add Mr.
Waunford-Brown to the present action.
MOTION TO DISMISS KING JACKET CLAIM
motion also "seeks to dismiss the claims to the [King
Jacket] from this lawsuit." (Doc. 64, at 3.) Plaintiff
seeks a voluntary dismissal of this claim without prejudice
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41. Alternatively,
Plaintiff seeks to amend its complaint to exclude the claim
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15.