United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Notice of Equitable Estoppel
[DE 62], filed by Plaintiff on April 30, 2019, and a Motion
for Leave to Join Schneider Electric f/k/a Square D Company
as a Permissive Defendant Under Rule 20 of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure [DE 63], filed by Plaintiff on May 5,
2019. Plaintiff seeks to amend his complaint to add an
additional defendant, and seeks relief from order issued in
another case. No. party has responded to either filing and
the time to do so has passed.
2012, prior to filing this action, Plaintiff sued Schneider
Electric after one of Schneider's employees allegedly
contacted Prairie State College (“PSC”), where
Plaintiff worked as an adjunct professor, and PSC
subsequently fired Plaintiff. The court granted summary
judgment for Schneider on all of Plaintiff's claims, and
subsequently imposed Rule 11 sanctions on counsel for
instant action, Plaintiff is suing PSC and several parties
affiliated with PSC. The operative complaint alleges, in
part, that PSC wrongly terminated Plaintiff, based partly on
misinformation provided to it by Schneider. Plaintiff now
seeks to join Schneider as a defendant in this case, and
filed a proposed amended complaint listing two counts of
fraud and seeking sanctions against Schneider.
Plaintiff's “Notice of Equitable Estoppel”
discusses the events in the prior litigation, and states that
“the Court . . . must vacate the benefit of the summary
judgment, as well as . . . the Rule 11 Sanction.”
may amend its pleading “with the opposing party's
written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2). Because Plaintiff seeks permissive joinder of
Schneider, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 is also
implicated. See Chavez v. Ill. State Police, 251
F.3d 612, 631-32 (7th Cir. 2001). Rule 20 provides that
defendants may be joined to an action if “(A) any right
to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in
the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same
transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to
all defendants will arise in the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
20(a)(2). A “series of transactions or
occurrences” is defined “not so much upon the
immediateness of their connection as upon their logical
relationship.” Lozada v. City of Chicago, No.
10 C 1019, 2010 WL 3487952, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 30, 2010).
District courts are granted wide discretion in their
decisions concerning joinder, considering “whether the
permissive joinder of a party will comport with the
principles of fundamental fairness. If joinder would create
prejudice, expense or delay the court may deny the
motion.” Chavez, 251 F.3d at 632 (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted).
case, the rights to relief asserted against Schneider are not
logically related to those against the other Defendants in a
way that makes joinder appropriate. In the new counts,
Plaintiff seeks relief for alleged misrepresentations made by
Schneider's counsel during the prior litigation.
See Proposed Amended Complaint, [DE 63-8], ¶ 36
(“Schneider Electric's attorneys submitted
statements and documents . . . [that they knew] to be false .
. . .”; “Schneider Electric's Attorney
continued to refer to depositions [she] knew to be
false”; “Schneider  obtaining a summary
judgment and a Rule 11 sanction harmed [Plaintiff and his
counsel], materially and financially”). None of the
Defendants in this case were parties to that litigation. More
importantly, many of the allegations have already been
considered and rejected in the other litigation.
See, e.g., Kennedy v. Schneider Elec., No.
2:12-CV-122-PRC, 2017 WL 781608, at *4-5 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 1,
2017), aff'd, 893 F.3d 414 (7th Cir. 2018) (rejecting
Plaintiff's argument that Schneider knowingly submitted
perjured documents to the Court).
these circumstances, it would not be efficient or fair to
permit joinder of Plaintiff's claims against Schneider to
this action. See Chavez, 251 F.3d at 632 (joinder
can be denied for “prejudice, expense, or delay”
and must comport with the principles of fundamental
fairness); see also 18 Wright, Miller & Cooper,
Fed. Prac. & Proc. Juris. § 4416 (3d ed.)
(explaining the doctrine of issue preclusion: “[L]ater
courts should honor the first actual decision of a matter
that has been actually litigated.”).
the “Notice of Equitable Estoppel, ” the Court
finds that the doctrine has no relevance to the relief
requested. Equitable estoppel, when it does apply, prevents a
party from asserting a claim or defense that is contrary to
its prior conduct. 28 Am. Jur. 2d Estoppel and Waiver §
27 (2d ed.). To the extent Plaintiff maintains that this
Court must “vacate the benefit” of
Schneider's victory in a different case, Plaintiff
provides no authority supporting that argument.
reasons described above, the Court DENIES
the relief requested in the Notice of Equitable Estoppel [DE
62], and DENIES the Motion for Leave to Join
Schneider Electric f/k/a Square D Company as a Permissive