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Hohlbein v. Heritage Mutual Insurance Co.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
106 F.R.D. 73 (E.D. Wis. 1985)


Facts

Heritage Mutual Insurance Co. (Heritage) (defendant) interviewed Norbert Hohlbein (plaintiff) for its Vice President of Sales position between February – December 1982. Winston Howell (plaintiff) claims that he was interviewed in April of 1981 for the same position. James R. Beckey (plaintiff) asserts that he interviewed for the Regional Claims Manager position between August and September 1983. Edward White (plaintiff) interviewed for the position of Training and Educational Specialist in March of 1982. All four plaintiffs claim to have accepted the roles based on some or all of Heritage’s material misrepresentations or omissions regarding the duties, nature, and scope of the roles, promotion potential, the provision of relocation expenses, and the existence of an at-will probationary period. The plaintiffs filed a single lawsuit under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) Rule 20(a) against Heritage in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin under its diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), each asserting three claims for relief on theories of reckless misrepresentation, fraud, and breach of contract. Heritage filed a motion to sever the claims of the individual plaintiffs into four separate actions pursuant to FRCP Rules 20(a) and 21 on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claims did not arise “out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences” and did not involve common questions of law or fact. Heritage also claimed that allowing the joinder would likely confuse the jury. The plaintiffs objected to severance.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Warren, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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