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Ryder v. Jefferson Hotel Co

    Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiffs, husband and wife, sued Defendant hotel for injuries each sustained during their stay at the hotel. In addition, the husband sued for expenses incurred in caring for the wife’s injuries. Defendants moved to dismiss on the ground that the husband and wife’s claims were improperly joined.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Two parties may not join two causes of action into one case unless the action of interfering with the relationship between the parties produces the injury.

    Facts. Edith and Charles Ryder, husband and wife, Plaintiffs, sued Jefferson Hotel Co., Defendant, for injuries suffered while Plaintiffs stayed at the hotel. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant’s employee woke Plaintiffs in the night, insulted Edith and forced Plaintiffs to leave the hotel at midnight and seek another place to stay. Charles alleged that he suffered injury to his reputation, credit and business and his business has lost profit because of the incident. Defendant demurred arguing that the Plaintiffs claims could not be joined together. The District Court overruled the demurrer and Defendant appealed.

    Issue. Are the rights allegedly invaded and injuries allegedly suffered by each Plaintiff separate so as to make joinder of their claims in one action impermissible?

    Held. Yes. Order reversed.
    If the violation of rights suffered and injuries sustained by multiple plaintiffs are several, the Plaintiffs cannot maintain a joint action and recover joint damages.
    A close legal relation to the parties is not an exception to the rule that personal torts usually cannot be joined in the same case.
    Neither party is claiming loss of consortium. The loss of husband and wife does not affect each other but the two of them separately.

    Dissent. Plaintiffs were kicked out of the hotel because they were thought not to be husband and wife. Thus, the injuries suffered were injuries to the relationship as husband and wife. A husband and wife should be allowed to sue jointly for injury to the marital relationship just like two partners may sue jointly for injury to the partnership.

    Discussion. The majority’s opinion articulates the common law rule prohibiting claims involving multiple parties in one lawsuit.


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