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Zack Mccain v. Buffalo Wild Wings

December 19, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable J. Garvan Murtha United States District Judge

ORDER (Docs. 36 and 37)

Plaintiff Zack McCain, proceeding pro se, brings this action claiming he was the victim of employment discrimination. After two Defendants filed motions to dismiss, the Court granted one of the motions in part and allowed McCain leave to file an Amended Complaint. Now pending are McCain's motions to amend and supplement his initial Complaint. (Docs. 36 and 37.)

Defendants oppose the motions to amend, arguing (1) McCain's request to add new parties is improper, and (2) his proposed amendments merely reassert claims that were previously dismissed. For the reasons set forth below, the motions to amend are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Specifically, the addition of new parties will not be allowed, but McCain may amend his allegations regarding the original Defendants.

Factual and Procedural Background The original Complaint alleged that McCain, who is African-American, was the victim of two separate instances of discrimination. The first allegedly occurred while he was seeking employment at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington, Vermont. The second occurred while he worked at a Burger King restaurant in Colchester, Vermont. McCain's legal claims include allegations of race and national origin discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; violations of his right to enter into a contract under 42 U.S.C. § 1981; violations of the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Privileges and Immunities Clauses; violation of his constitutional right to travel; and violation of Vermont's anti-discrimination law, 21 V.S.A. § 495(a)(1).

In response to the initial Complaint, Defendants Martti Matheson and Jan Company/Burger King ("Burger King") each filed motions to dismiss. (Docs. 12 and 14.) In its ruling on Matheson's motion to dismiss, the Court found, among other things, that McCain's section 1981 claim was barred because he was alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin, rather than race. The Court also concluded that the Title VII claim against Matheson failed because such a claim may not be brought against an individual business owner. Finally, the Court found McCain had not alleged sufficient facts to support his conspiracy claim. The Court denied Burger King's motion to dismiss.

The Court also ruled on McCain's pending motion to amend his Complaint. The Court denied the motion, finding several of his proposed claims futile, but granted leave to file another Amended Complaint. Now before the Court are McCain's subsequent motions to amend.


I. Joinder of New Parties

Among McCain's proposed amendments is the addition of new defendants, each of whom allegedly discriminated against him in the course of his employment. The proposed defendants include Labor Ready, a temporary employment agency based in Seattle, Washington; Casella Waste Management; Tygate Corporation, doing business as the Windjammer Restaurant; and Salina Line, who appears to have been a Windjammer employee. While the claims against these proposed defendants are similar in nature to those being brought against the original Defendants, the alleged acts of discrimination are independent of the claims McCain raised in his initial Complaint.

The addition of new defendants is governed by the joinder provisions set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 19 pertains to situations in which a party must be joined because (1) "in that person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief among existing parties," or (2) that person has an interest "so situated that disposing of the action in that person's absence" would "impair or impede" the person's interest or "leave an existing party subject to a substantial risk of incurring" multiple obligations because of that interest. Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). Here, McCain is seeking to add a group of employers whose interests are unrelated to those of the initial Defendants. Accordingly, joinder of the new parties is not required.

Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs permissive joinder. Specifically, Rule 20(a)(2) allows the joinder of multiple defendants 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 and 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). "As is clear from the plain language of Rule 20(a)(2), both criteria must be met for joinder to be proper." Deskovic v. City of Peekskill, 673 F. Supp. 2d 154, 159 (S.D.N.Y. 2009); see Moore's Federal Practice ยง 21.02 [1] (3d ed. 2009) ("Failure to satisfy ...

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