United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
LC Black moves to join his former coworker, Kenneth D.
VanBuren, as an additional defendant in this employment
discrimination case against his former employer, the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA opposes the
motion but also construes it as a motion to consolidate this
case with a separate cause of action pending against
VanBuren,  which it likewise opposes. I will deny
Black's motion for joinder. To the extent Black seeks
consolidation, this request will likewise be denied.
Black's renewed motion for the appointment of counsel
will be denied without prejudice.
terminated Black's employment at the Veterans Affairs
Medical Center on September 20, 2014. Black brings this
action against the VA alleging different forms of
discrimination in his termination, and specifically, that he
was terminated because of his race, color, gender, and age,
and in retaliation for earlier complaints of discrimination
made to the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission. In a separate case now pending in this
district, Black brings tort claims of libel against Kenneth
D. VanBuren, his former coworker at the VA, claiming that
VanBuren's libelous statements led to his termination.
Black now moves to join VanBuren as a defendant in this
action under either Rule 19 or Rule 20 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure, claiming that VanBuren's conduct was
part of the VA's conspiracy to retaliate against him. As
the VA, I also construe the motion as one seeking to
consolidate the two actions.
requires joinder of a party if “in that person's
absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among
existing parties[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 19(a)(1). In the
action pending before me, Black brings only claims of
employment discrimination and alleges discreet acts giving
rise to his claims. Although VanBuren is alleged to have
engaged in some of these acts, his presence as a party is not
required for Black to obtain complete relief on his claims in
this case. Because Black may obtain complete relief on his
discrimination claims from the existing defendant, that is,
the alleged offending employer, he will not be deprived of
any relief if a coworker who engaged in some of the alleged
offending conduct is not joined in the action. I will
therefore deny Black's motion to join VanBuren as a
defendant under Rule 19.
permits joinder of defendants in one action if: 1) a right to
relief is asserted against each defendant relating to or
arising out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series
of transactions or occurrences; and 2) there exists some
question of law or fact common to all the parties in the
action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2); Mosley v. General Motors
Corp., 497 F.2d 1330, 1332 (8th Cir. 1974); Smith v.
Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region, 225 F.R.D. 233,
243 (E.D. Mo. 2004). Although joinder under Rule 20 is
encouraged because it promotes trial convenience and
expedites the final determination of disputes, thereby
preventing multiple lawsuits, it is not applicable in all
cases. Mosley, 497 F.2d at 1332. Whether to permit
joinder under Rule 20 is discretionary.
stated in his complaints and at the scheduling conference
held earlier in this action, Black alleges the following: In
February 2014, the VA failed to act when Black reported that
a coworker broke his finger. In April 2014, the VA again
failed to act when Black reported that a volunteer employee
attacked him and used a racial slur against him. Believing
that he had been subjected to discrimination and harassment,
Black contacted an EEO counselor in May 2014. Mediation on
Black's claim of discrimination was held on July 24,
2014, and an agreement was signed that same date.
30, 2014, VanBuren reported to the VA that Black threatened
him with a box cutter. The VA placed Black on administrative
leave that same date. The VA filed a claim with the Office of
Inspector General and sought charges against Black for
unlawful use of a weapon and conduct unbecoming a federal
employee. The OIG rejected both charges. The VA then asked
St. Louis County officials to prosecute. Criminal charges
were filed, and Black was arrested at work in August 2014.
The charges were later dismissed in August 2015.
meanwhile, the VA terminated Black's employment on
September 30, 2014. Black sought administrative relief on his
claims of discrimination through the Merit Systems Protection
Board and the EEOC, and received final adverse decisions in
September 2016 and November 2016, respectively. The
employment discrimination cases now before me were filed in
October 2016 and December 2016. Black proceeds in this case
separate tort action against VanBuren, Black bases his claims
of libel on 1) VanBuren's filing of the alleged false
report described above, which caused Black to lose his job at
the VA; and 2) VanBuren's filing of an alleged false
police report in January 2015 claiming that Black was
stalking him. Black proceeds in that case pro
these cases and in his motion for joinder, Black contends
that VanBuren purposefully filed the false police report to
influence the VA's decision to terminate Black's
employment, and that VanBuren acted within the scope of his
employment when he did so. Black contends in his motion for
joinder that VanBuren's conduct was part of the VA's
conspiracy to retaliate against him.
alleged conduct is relevant to Black's claims of
employment discrimination, and the parties will be permitted
to admit evidence of this conduct at trial of the employment
claims. Indeed, VA counsel stated at the scheduling
conference that the VA would call VanBuren to testify at
trial and that Black could depose VanBuren if he so chose.
Black is precluded, however, from recovering against VanBuren
- a non-supervisory coworker - on his employment
discrimination claims. Powell v. Yellow Book USA,
Inc., 445 F.3d 1074, 1079 (8th Cir. 2006); Thompson
v. Curators of Univ. of Mo., No. 4:09CV2083 FRB, 2010 WL
682030, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 23, 2010). To join VanBuren as a
defendant in this action would therefore serve no purpose
given that Black could not recover against him on these
consolidation of this action with the tort action appropriate
in the circumstances of the case. Rule 42(a) permits the
consolidation of actions involving a common question of law
or fact. There are no common questions of law between the two
cases: this case involves only claims of employment
discrimination; the case before Judge Autrey involves only
state tort law claims of libel. While one of the factual
allegations against VanBuren in the tort case is included
among the several discrete acts of alleged discrimination in
this case, this one common fact between the cases does not
justify consolidation of ...