Hohlbein v. Heritage Mutual Insurance Co.
106 F.R.D. 73 (1985)
Four plaintiffs brought 12 claims (three each) against Heritage Mutual in a diversity suit. All were contacted and interviewed by Heritage, who made material misrepresentations of fact, withheld material information, and didn’t advise them of a probationary period.
(1) Norbert Hohlbein – VP of Sales
(2) Winston Howell – VP of Sales
(3) James R. Beckey – Claims Manager
(4) Edward White – Training and Educational Specialist
- Heritage moved pursuant to Rule 20(a) and Rule 21 to split the action into four separate lawsuits:
- None of the claims arose from the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions and occurrences:
- All were employed at different times, with the exception of Hohlbein and Howell, each had different positions, etc.
- Except for two, the positions were all different too.
- Plaintiffs’ response: Heritages treatment constituted an ongoing “course of conduct” and an “on-going policy of material misrepresentations and fraud.”
Should these claims be severed?
No. Motion denied.
- The court felt that the complaint arose out of the same series of transactions or occurrences, and implicated common questions of law or fact:
- Everything happened within a 2 ½ year period.
- Each plaintiff’s circumstances were sufficiently similar.
- Also, any burden on the defendant for having a consolidated trial is far outweighed by the benefits.
- Finally, the jury would not be confused by the consolidated trial.