Legal Memorandum: Misjoinder and Non-joinder of Parties

Issue: Under the laws of Texas, when may a court properly exercise its discretion in dropping involuntary plaintiffs from a pending action under Tex. R. Civ. P. 41?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Joinder or misjoinder issues; Drop or sever a party or claim; Discretion
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 700 S.W.2d 916; 159 S.W.2d 472; 827 S.W.2d 833; 513 S.W.2d 200
Cited Statutes: Tex. R. Civ. P. 41; V.T.C.A. Civil Prac. & Rem. Code § 37.006 (a)
Date: 10/01/2014

Tex. R. Civ. P. 41 provides in relevant part:

Parties may be dropped . . . by order of the court on motion of any party or on its own initiative at any stage of the action . . . on such terms as are just.

Thus, Rule 41 expressly allows the court to drop a party it finds has been misjoined.  Varme v. Gordon, 881 S.W.2d 877, 882-83 (Tex. App. Houston—[14th Dist] 1994). 

The determinations of whether to drop or sever a party or claim under Rule 41 are committed to the trial court’s discretion.  See, e.g., In re Reynolds, 369 S.W.3d 638, 650 (Tex. App.—Tyler 2012); In re Progressive, 439 S.W.3d 422, 424 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2014).  That discretion, of course, is not unlimited.  “A clear abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court’s decision is so arbitrary and unreasonable that it amounts to clear error.”  See id.; Johnson v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 700 S.W.2d 916, 917 (Tex. 1985)).  Because a trial court has no discretion in determining what the law is, the trial court abuses its discretion if it clearly fails to analyze or apply the law correctly.  See Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding).

Sabre Oil & Gas Corp. v. Gibson, 72 S.W.3d 812 (Tex. App.–Eastland 2002), a case involving an oil and gas lease which addresses joinder or misjoinder issues is instructive.  In Sabre, a lessor of property pursuant to […]

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