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Simon v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

December 8, 2017

GLEN SIMON and SOLARIS POWER SERVICES, LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
LIBERTY MUTUAL FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, ASSOCIATE ELECTRIC & GAS INSURANCE SERVICES, LTD., CAPITAL ELECTRIC, INC., and KEVIN and ANITA JOHNSON, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SEVER CLAIM

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE

         This case is an insurance coverage dispute concerning an uncontested $44 million judgment entered against Solaris Power Services, LLC (“Solaris”) in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, in favor of Kevin and Anita Johnson (“the Johnsons”) pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065.[1] The judgment arises from an accident at the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, in which Kevin Johnson, an electrician employed by Capital Electric Construction Company, Inc., [2] (“Capital”) was severely injured because of Solaris's negligence in failing to de-energize equipment on which he was working. Capital was insured by Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company (“Liberty Mutual”), and Associate Electric & Gas Insurance Services, LTD. (“AEGIS”), provided excess liability insurance to Capital. Plaintiffs Glen Simons (“Simons”) and Solaris (collectively “Plaintiffs”) allege they were, or should have been, additional insureds under both policies, but both insurance companies wrongly denied them coverage, damaging them.

         Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit in Jackson County Circuit Court to try to recover on the policies. Liberty Mutual removed to this Court.

         Now before the Court is Liberty Mutual's Motion to Sever Plaintiffs' Purported Claim Against Capital Electric (Doc. 21). Finding that the dispute between Solaris and Capital arises out of the same series of occurrences as the other counts in this lawsuit, and that judicial economy weighs in favor of hearing all of these claims in one case, the motion is DENIED.

         Background

         The facts relevant to the pending motion are as follows.

         On January 30, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court against Liberty Mutual, AEGIS, and Kevin and Anita Johnson. Plaintiffs brought claims for breach of contract and bad faith refusal to defend and settle, alleging Plaintiffs were additional insureds under the Liberty Mutual and AEGIS insurance policies, and that they were damaged by the insurance companies' denial of coverage for Solaris. After Liberty Mutual removed this lawsuit to federal court, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed it. See Simon v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 4:17-cv-089-DGK (Feb. 9, 2017 W.D. Mo.).

         On February 17, 2017, Plaintiffs filed the pending lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court. This lawsuit is almost identical to the previous one except it adds two additional claims and an additional defendant. Count V is a breach of contract claim brought by Solaris against Capital Electric, Inc., a Texas corporation It is pled in the alternative to the other counts.[3] It alleges Capital Electric, Inc. contracted with Solaris to include Solaris as an additional insured under any liability policy, and it breached this contract by failing to do so.

         Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 20 states that defendants may be joined in one action if,

(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) (emphasis added).

         Additionally, Rule 21, which governs “Misjoinder and Nonjoinder of Parties” provides in relevant part that the court “may at any time, on just terms, ” sever any claim against a party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 21. Severance under this rule is committed to the court's sound discretion. Sprint Commc'ns. Co. L.P. v. K.L.M. Tel. Co., No. 14-06049-CV-SJ-FJG, 2014 WL 4426275, at *1 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 9, 2014). This discretion is guided by ...


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