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Mendes v. Battle

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Waterbury, Waterbury

August 2, 2016

Mario Mendes
v.
Jada Battle et al

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION RE MOTION TO STRIKE (#104)

          Andrew W. Roraback, J.

         I

         FACTS

         The plaintiff, Mario Mendes, has brought a two-count complaint. Count one is against the defendants Jada Battle and Michael Spence. In this count, the plaintiff alleges that Spence was negligent in operating a vehicle owned by Battle. This negligence is claimed to have caused an automobile collision in which the plaintiff, the operator of the other vehicle, was injured. That collision is alleged to have occurred at approximately 3:35 p.m. on November 26, 2013. The second count concerns allegations of a separate and distinct collision the plaintiff was involved in later that same day at approximately 5:00 p.m. on November 26, 2013. With respect to that collision, the plaintiff alleges that the driver of the other car, Siddharth Awasthi, was negligent in the operation of the vehicle he was driving in that he struck a parked vehicle in which the plaintiff was sitting. In this count, the plaintiff has also named as a defendant the owner of the vehicle that allegedly struck the parked car the plaintiff was sitting in, Purushottan Awasthi.

         On January 21, 2016, the Awasthi defendants moved to strike the second count of the complaint for misjoinder pursuant to Practice Book § 10-21 and General Statutes § 52-97. Both of these provisions provide that separate causes of action may be joined in a single complaint if they arise " out of the same transaction." The moving defendants maintain that the separate claims in the two counts arise from two discrete accidents and thus do not arise " out of the same transaction." The plaintiff opposes the motion " on the grounds of judicial economy." He also asserts that " [u]nder the circumstances, the granting of the Motion to Strike would accomplish nothing at this point, but, leave it at the exact same position at a later date." This is because, if the plaintiff is obligated to commence a second action against the moving defendants, the plaintiff predicts that action will likely be consolidated with this action for trial given the unusual nature of the specific allegations contained in the two counts.

         II

         DISCUSSION

         " [T]he exclusive remedy for misjoinder of parties . . . is by motion to strike." Bender v. Bender, 292 Conn. 696, 722 n.23, 975 A.2d 636 (2009); see also Practice Book § 11-3. " Naming an improper person as a party in a legal action constitutes misjoinder." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Bloom v. Miklovich, 111 Conn.App. 323, 329, 958 A.2d 1283 (2008). Practice Book § 10-21 provides, in relevant part: " In any civil action the plaintiff may include in the complaint both legal and equitable rights and causes of action, and demand both legal and equitable remedies; but, if several causes of action are united in the same complaint, they shall all be brought to recover, either (1) upon contract, express or implied, or (2) for injuries, with or without force, to person and property, or either, including a conversion of property to the defendant's use, or (3) for injuries to character, or (4) upon claims to recover real property, with or without damages for the withholding thereof, and the rents and profits of the same, or (5) upon claims to recover personal property specifically, with or without damages for the withholding thereof, or (6) claims arising by virtue of a contract or by operation of law in favor of or against a party in some representative or fiduciary capacity, or (7) upon claims, whether in contract or tort or both, arising out of the same transaction or transactions connected with the same subject of action . . ." [1]

         Practice Book § 11-3 is unambiguous in its command that " [T]he exclusive remedy for misjoinder of parties is by motion to strike." Here, although the plaintiff has put forth a convincing argument that little may be different in the end if this motion is granted, he has not provided a sound basis for the court to conclude that the separate allegations in the two counts " arise out of the same transaction" so as to permit them to lawfully be joined in a single complaint.

         It is no doubt true that consolidation of individual lawsuits brought with respect to the two distinct accidents at issue is likely. This eventuality is even more probable if it is determined that a jury may be unable to apportion damages between the two accidents. See Card v. State, 57 Conn.App. 134, 144, 747 A.2d 32 (2000). Nevertheless, notwithstanding what may likely occur in the future, there is no basis upon which the court may excuse compliance with the clear and common mandate of § 52-97 and Practice Book § 10-21 that claims brought in a complaint " arise out of the same transaction."

         Other Superior Court judges confronted with analogous situations in which a plaintiff claims injuries from two distinct accidents resulting from the negligence of different parties occurring close in time have concluded that such claims may not properly be joined in a single complaint. The court finds the consistent reasoning articulated in those decisions persuasive. See e.g., Cianciolo v. Musumano, Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV-08-5008286-S, (August 12, 2008, Alvord, J.); Green v. Blanchard, Superior Court, judicial district of Tolland, Docket No. CV-07-5001528-S, (August 21, 2007, Vachelli, J.) [44 Conn.L.Rptr. 54]; Bailey v. Thomas, judicial district of Hartford, Docket No. CV-98-0577916-S, (June 18, 1999, Wagner, J.) (24 Conn.L.Rptr. 687); Mancini v. Mitchley, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV-95-0129378-S, (July 2, 1996, McLachlan, J.) (17 Conn.L.Rptr. 252).

         III

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons set forth above, the defendants' motion to strike count two of the ...


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