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DIRECTV v. Loussaert

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants because each defendant purchased pirating software. Eversoll, one of the defendants, motioned to sever the claim alleging each defendant acted individually. Plaintiff asserts that joinder is proper and it promotes judicial efficiency.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    When multiple defendants engage in separate acts against a single plaintiff, the separate acts are not part of the same transaction or occurrence, which is required for joinder. Thus, there is no logical relationship between each defendant, who acted individually, nor is there a logical relationship between the defendants, and joinder is improper. 

    Facts.

    Plaintiff, DIRECTV, a California company, transmits scrambled television signals by satellite to its customers. Each of Plaintiff’s customers possesses a satellite receiver with an access card, which unscrambles the channels so that the customer may view the channels he or she paid for. Plaintiff has previously assisted law enforcement raids on mail shipping locations that were dispensing technology that could unscramble and pirate DIRECTV’s services. Plaintiff found evidence, which indicated that Eversoll and six other defendants (collectively known as “Defendants”) had each purchased pirating hardware in the past seven months.  Plaintiff brought suit against Defendants, and Eversoll motioned to sever his case from the rest of the defendants on the grounds that each defendant acted independently, at different times, and with his or her own purpose. Thus, Eversoll contends that joined is improper under FRCP 20. Plaintiff contends joinder is proper and the court should allow it to promote judicial efficiency.

    Issue.

    Whether joinder is proper when multiple defendants engage in separate acts against a single plaintiff, the separate acts are not part of the same transaction or occurrence, which is required for joinder, and there not logical relationship between each defendant, who acted individually, nor is there a logical relationship between the defendants, and joinder is improper.

    Held.

    No, joinder is not proper when multiple defendants engage in separate acts against a single plaintiff, the separate acts are not part of the same transaction or occurrence, which is required for joinder, and there not logical relationship between each defendant, who acted individually, nor is there a logical relationship between the defendants, and joinder is improper.

    Discussion.

    When multiple defendants engage in separate acts against a single plaintiff, the separate acts are not part of the same transaction or occurrence, which is required for joinder. Thus, there is no logical relationship between each defendant, who acted individually, nor is there a logical relationship between the defendants, and joinder is improper. Nonetheless, FRCP 20 and 42 provide district courts discretion to decide when to sever claims against defendants to avoid litigation delay or prejudice, and such discretion will only be overturned when the district court abused its discretion. FRCP 20 has been broadly interpreted to encourage parties to join into a single suit, so long as it is fair. Mosley v. Gen. Motors Corp., 497 F.2d 1330 (8th Cir. 1974). Additionally, defendants conduct may be considered to be part of the same transaction or occurrence when there is a logical relationship between each defendant and the plaintiff, resulting in a case-by-case factual analysis. . Here, although Defendants all engaged in similar conduct against Plaintiff, and Plaintiff seeks the same relief from each individual, the same transaction or occurrence requirement is not satisfied because the defendants do not share a common purpose. In contrast, in Mosley, every defendant engaged in the same conduct to promote a common purpose, to enforce a company-wide discrimination policy. Therefore, joinder of Defendant’s in this case is improper.


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