United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JASON N. ELCHERT, et al., Plaintiffs,
OHIO ASSOCIATION OF FOODBANKS, et al., Defendants.
Elizabeth P. Deavers, Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER
A. SARGUS, JR. CHIEF JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Sever
Plaintiffs' Claims and for Separate Trials (ECF No. 10)
pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 21 and 42(b)
respectively, Plaintiffs' Memorandum in Opposition (ECF
No. 11), and Defendants' Reply in Support. (ECF No. 14.)
Defendants assert that the claims set forth in
Plaintiffs' Complaint do not arise out of the same
transaction, occurrence or series of transactions, and no
questions of fact and law are common in this action. For the
reasons that follow, the Motion is DENIED.
Plaintiffs, Jason Elchert ("Elchert"), his husband
Dustin Speakman, and Mr. Speakman's mother, Nancy Roscoe
were long-term employees of Defendant Ohio Association of
Foodbanks ("OAF"). Defendant Lisa Hamler-Fugitt
("Hamler-Fugitt") supervised and ultimately
terminated all three Plaintiffs. At the core of the Complaint
lies the allegation that Hamler-Fugitt retaliated against
Plaintiffs as a result of Speakman speaking out against new
leave policies instituted by Hamler-Fugitt by not only
terminating his employment, but that of his husband and
mother. Plaintiffs further allege that Defendant
Hamler-Fugitt discriminated against the three by terminating
them due to their personal disabilities.
move to sever the Plaintiffs' claims because each
individual's claims arise based on their own separate
disability. Plaintiffs assert that the claims are related and
thus should be brought together.
relevant to the Motion before the Court, the Plaintiffs'
individual allegations as taken from the Complaint are as
worked at OAF from July 2006 until his termination in January
2016. (Compl. ¶ 9.) At the time of his termination, he
was Director of Community Services. (Id.) Speakman
suffers from bipolar disorder, anxiety, irritable bowel
syndrome ("IBS"), and a degenerative disc condition
in his back. (Id. ¶ 17.)
worked at OAF from September 2005 until his termination in
February 2016. (Compl. ¶ 8.) At the time of his
termination, he was Deputy Director of the organization.
(Id.) Elchert was diagnosed with incurable brain
cancer several years prior to his termination. (Id.
¶ 18.) While working at OAF, he had two major brain
surgeries to remove tumors. (Id.) He also suffers
from seizures. (Id.) In December 2016, Elchert and
Speakman adopted newborn twins who were born prematurely.
(Id. ¶ 19.)
worked at OAF from July 2006 until her termination in March
2016. (Compl. ¶ 10.) At the time of her termination, she
was manager of the Ohio Benefit Bank Hotline team.
(Id.) Roscoe suffers from a heart condition and a
serious lung disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
("COPD"). (Id. ¶I5.)
December 2015, Hamler-Fugitt revised OAF's sick leave
policy. Speakman "openly opposed" the new policy in
an email to Hamler-Fugitt. (Id. ¶ 29.)
Hamler-Fugitt instituted disciplinary proceedings against
Speakman in the form of a first and second warning as well as
a "plan for improvement." (Id.
¶¶ 29, 30.) After another incident in January 2016,
Hamler-Fugitt placed Speakman on leave before officially
terminating his employment on January 13, 2016. (Id.
¶ 38.) Defendants placed Elchert on administrative leave
on January 11, 2016, until January 25, 2016,
"purportedly to avoid any conflict of interest in the
investigation of Mr. Speakman." (Id. ¶
40.) Elchert's leave was thereafter extended until
February 8, 2016. (Id. ¶ 41.) Defendants
terminated Elchert's employment by mail on February 5,
2016. (Id. ¶ 42.) On March 7, 2016, Defendants
terminated Roscoe's employment, stating that the
termination was a "reduction of force."
allege that their terminations were die result of Defendants
retaliating against Speakman and discriminating based on
their individual disabilities.
Rule 20(a) Permissive Joinder ...