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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