Saturday, May 17, 2014
Stanford v. Tennessee Valley Authority case brief summary
Stanford v. Tennessee Valley Authority (1955)
o Permissive joinder case regarding fumes released into the air by multiple companies and potentially causing harm.
o Why did they really want to join the defendants?
· Prevent Empty chair defense: If they can only sue one defendant, the defendant is going to point the finger at the other defendant who is not a participant in the trial.
· By the same token, the defendants would want this case severed in order to be able to take advantage of this defense
o Court finds that there is misjoinder b/c these events did not flow from the same transactions or occurrences.
· The plants were separately owned and operated, and different distances from the P
· They are not joint tortfeasors acting in concert.
· Rule 20 joinder was impermissible à No, commonality. Both doing their own thing.
· Under Rule 21, misjoinder is not grounds for dismissal; thus, the claims can be severed.
· However, under Rule 42, the Court can consolidate actions if they involve “common questions of law or fact”
· Here, the judge found that Rule 42 was satisfied and ordered a joint trial although the claims were severed
· Rationale: there was a mixed question of law and fact common to both Defs.
· Also, it was conceivable that other issues, common to both parties, may arise after the answers are filed, or after a further development of the case
· Joint trial also had many advantages in that it saved trial time, and allowed the use of the same witnesses and evidence to determine culpability
· Stanford Discussion
o Prof: Real reason why the Court allowed a joint trial is because such an order will preserve to each defendant the procedural advantages of a separate trial, including preemptory challenges of jurors
o Note the inherent issue with this case b/c there wasn’t an actual consolidation
· The Court used Rule 42 ONLY to order a joint trial. Thus, P has one trial but two separate Ds.
· Normally under Rule 42, a real consolidation would mean discovery is also shared. Here, the discovery of the parties will be separate and each D would not be privy to the discovery that the P’s counsel gleaned from the other D
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