United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION & ORDER
ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Motion to Dismiss
All Claims Against Defendant Apache Energy Services d/b/a AES
Safety Services ("AES") Pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 21. (ECF No. 36). Defendant Antero Resources
Corporation opposes this Motion. (ECF No. 41). For the
reasons stated below, Plaintiffs Motion is
GRANTED. All claims against Defendant AES
are DISMISSED and Defendant AES is hereby
TERMINATED as a party.
August 17, 2016, Plaintiff Robert Reineke filed his first
complaint against Defendants Antero Resources Corp.
("Antero"), Warrior Energy Services Corporation
("Warrior"), and Superior Energy Services, Inc.
("Superior"). (ECF No. 1). According to the
complaint, Plaintiff was working as a vacuum truck operator
at an oil well site on July 8, 2015. (ECF No. 1 at
¶¶ 24, 27). The well site was owned by Defendant
Antero. (Id. at ¶ 25). While at the well site,
an employee of Defendant Warrior, a subsidiary of Defendant
Superior, directed Plaintiff to attach his vacuum truck's
high pressure hose to a tank line. (Id. at
¶¶ 17, 28). A different Warrior employee later
informed Plaintiff that his hose had been connected to the
wrong tank line. (Id. at ¶ 31). The Warrior
employee then unhooked the hose from the tank line which
caused the hose to whip around and strike Plaintiff in the
face. (Id. at ¶ 32). As a result, Plaintiff
allegedly suffered multiple injuries, including facial,
nasal, and orbital fractures. (Id. at ¶¶
33). Thus, Plaintiff brought this suit against Defendants
alleging negligence and violations of Ohio Revised Code
§ 4101.11, et seq., (ECF No. 1).
April 27, 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, adding
AES as a defendant. (ECF No. 31). The amended complaint
alleges that Antero contracted AES to be responsible for
safety at the well site. (ECF No. 31 at ¶¶ 11, 55).
Rather than just alleging that employees of Warrior directed
him to attach the hose and then unhooked the hose, Plaintiff
now alleges that both actions were done by an employee of
"Defendant Warrior and/or Defendant AES”.
(Id. at ¶¶ 32, 33, 35, 36). Thus,
Plaintiff added a count of negligence against AES and alleges
that AES violated Ohio Revised Code § 4101.11, et
seq. as well. (ECF No. 31).
2, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion, asking this
Court to drop AES as a party because AES is currently
undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. (ECF No. 36).
Plaintiff states that he amended the complaint to add AES
after Defendant Antero identified AES as being a
sub-contractor at the oil well site involved with safety, but
discovery to date has confirmed that the workers who directed
Plaintiff to hook the pressurized hose to the wrong tank and
then released the hose were employed by Defendant Warrior,
not AES. (ECF No. 42 at 2).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 21 allows the court "[o]n motion
or on its own" to "add or drop a party"
"at any time, on just terms." Fed.R.Civ.P. 21.
See also Philip Carey Mfg. Co. v. Taylor, 286 F.2d
782, 785 (6th Cir. 1961) ("We think that [Rule 21] is
the [rule] under which any action to eliminate... a party
should be taken."). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19
provides that if complete relief cannot be afforded among
existing parties in a party's absence, that party is a
necessary party and must be joined if feasible. Fed.R.Civ.P.
person's status as a joint tortfeasor does not make that
person a necessary party." PaineWebber, Inc. v.
Cohen, 276 F.3d 197, 204 (6th Cir. 2001). See also
Temple v. Synthes Corp., 498 U.S. 5, 8 (1990) (holding
joint tortfeasors were not necessary parties under Rule
19(a)); Williamson v. Recovery Ltd. P'ship, No.
2:06-CV-00292, 2014 WL 186898, at *5 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 14,
2014), aff'd, 826 F.3d 297 (6th Cir. 2016)
("[I]t is axiomatic that joint tortfeasors, including
those in an agency relationship, are not
indispensable parties."); Joe Hand Promotions, Inc.
v. Havens, No. 2:13-CV-0093, 2013 WL 3876176, at *3
(S.D. Ohio July 26, 2013) ("The mere fact that a
defendant points to the liability of another person does not
render that other person indispensable to the
litigation."); Malibu Media, LLC v. Patel, No.
2:14-CV-559, 2015 WL 12698035, at *1 (S.D. Ohio May 12, 2015)
("[T]he possibility of related third-party liability -
either by way of joint liability, contribution or vicarious
liability - does not require the joinder of those parties to
a single suit.").
rationale underlying the rule is mat "[i]n a suit
against one joint tortfeasor, a judgment for monetary relief
can be completely satisfied without the presence of any other
defendant." Laethem Equip. Co. v. Deere &
Co., 485 Fed.Appx. 39, 44 (6th Cir. 2012). Complete
relief under Rule 19 "is determined as between persons
already parties, and not as between a party and the absent
person whose joinder is sought." Id. If a
potential joint tortfeasor is liable to a defendant in an
action, "there are other venues in which he an be held
accountable." Brautigam v. Damon, No.
1:11-CV-551, 2012 WL 481844, at *5 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 14, 2012).
only argument in opposition to Plaintiffs motion to dismiss
AES is that AES is a necessary party under Rule 19. (ECF No.
41). Anteros argues that because AES employees allegedly
caused Paintiff's injuries, "it would only make
sense that [AES[ is a party that needs to be in this
litigation." (Id.). After noting that AES has
never been properly served in this action, Plaintiff counters
that as a matter of law, a potential joint tortfeasor such as
AES is not a necessary party under Rule 19. (ECF No. 42).
This Court agrees with Plaintiff. "Plaintiffs claims
sound primarily in toil, and accordingly [AES] is no more
than a potential joint tortfeasor. Since complete relief can
be satisfied by any jointly and severally liable tortfeasor,
joint tortfeasors are neither necessary nor indispensable
parties under Rule 19(a)." Brautigam, 2012
WL4S144, at *5. Indeed, Anteros cites no law to the contrary.
makes no other arguments in opposition to Plaintiffs motion
to dismiss AES. Given this Court's finding that AES is
not a necessary party, and that no other defendants oppose
AES dismissal, this Court GRANTS Plaintiffs
Motion under Rule 21.