United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SEVER CLAIM
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
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. 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.,  (“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
subsequently filed suit in Jackson County Circuit Court to
try to recover on the policies. Liberty Mutual removed to
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.
facts relevant to the pending motion are as follows.
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
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. 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.
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).
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 ...