United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division
RAJASHAKHER P. REDDY, Plaintiff,
MANJU MORRISSEY, Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
YIM YOU UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
P. Reddy (“Reddy”) has filed this action against
Manju Morrissey (“Morrissey”) seeking a
declaratory judgment (first claim), and alleging breach of
contract (second claim), unjust enrichment (third claim),
promissory estoppel (fourth claim), and fraud (fifth claim),
arising from a dispute concerning the ownership of Piper and
Associates, LLC (“Piper”). Compl., ECF #1.
Morrissey moves this court for an order dismissing the first
claim for failure to join an indispensable party under FRCP
12(b)(7). ECF #5. The court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). For the reasons that follow, Morrissey's
motion to dismiss should be denied.
alleged in the complaint, Reddy formed Piper, a limited
liability company, for the purpose of acquiring beachfront
property in Walton County, Florida. Compl. ¶¶ 7-8,
EFC #1. Reddy executed the Operating Agreement of Piper and
Associates, LLC (“Operating Agreement”) as the
sole member of Piper. Id. at ¶ 9. On or about
February 25, 2011, Piper purchased the property for $123, 895
using funds contributed by Reddy. Id. at ¶ 10.
the purchase of the property, Reddy was convicted of criminal
charges and, concerned he would be sent to prison, assigned
his membership interest in Piper to his sister, Morrissey.
Id. at ¶ 15. Reddy alleges that Morrissey
agreed to return the membership interest to him when he was
able to resume his duties, subject to Reddy repaying
Morrissey for all expenses she incurred related to the
property. Id. at ¶¶ 13-15. The parties
dispute whether the assignment also required Reddy to pay an
additional $90, 000 owed to Morrissey as part of a separate,
unrelated transaction. Id. at ¶¶ 21-22.
Reddy alleges that he reimbursed Morrissey for taxes and
homeowner's association fees, and offered to reimburse
her expenses, but Morrissey refused to return the membership
interest in Piper and instead demanded $350, 000.
Id. at ¶¶ 17-19, 23.
addition to claims for breach of contract, unjust enrichment,
promissory estoppel, and fraud, Reddy asks this court to
issue a declaratory judgment that he is the owner and sole
member of Piper because Morrissey failed to execute
Piper's Operating Agreement, a necessary condition for
the transfer of membership. Id. ¶¶ 26-30.
2016, Reddy filed suit in Walton County Circuit Court,
Florida, alleging claims of breach of contract and promissory
estoppel against Morrissey, and claims of constructive trust,
unjust enrichment, and unjust enrichment-equitable lien
against Morrissey and Piper. ECF #6, Exs. 1 & 4, at 3. On
January 3, 2017, the case was removed to the Northern
District of Florida. Id., Ex. 4. The district court
dismissed Morrissey for lack of personal jurisdiction on
September 15, 2017. Id., Ex. 4, at 7. On March 15,
2018, the district court granted summary judgment in
Piper's favor, holding there was no genuine issue of
material fact regarding Reddy's unjust enrichment,
equitable lien, and constructive trust claims against Piper.
Id., Ex. 2, at 6. In doing so, the district court
recognized that to the extent Reddy had valid claims, it
would be against Morrissey:
To the extent that the plaintiff has a valid claim, it is for
fraud or breach of contract, or for something related to
Morrisey's actions. But he has not asserted such a claim
against Piper (nor could he). The only breach of contract
claim that he raised was against Morrisey, and that claim has
been dismissed from this lawsuit and either is currently or
will be part of the Oregon case.
filed this action against Morrissey in the District of Oregon
on May 30, 2018. ECF #1.
contends that Reddy's first claim for declaratory
judgment must be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(7) because
Reddy has failed to join Piper, which is a necessary and
indispensable party. Morrissey also contends that Reddy
cannot cure this defect, because the Northern District of
Florida has granted summary judgment in favor of Piper and
claim preclusion applies. Mot. 6-7, ECF #5.
FRCP 12(b)(7), a party may move to dismiss a case for
“failure to join a party under Rule 19.” EEOC
v. Peabody Western Coal Co., 400 F.3d 774, 778 (9th Cir.
2005). The court must determine whether a non-party should be
joined, whether such joinder is feasible, and, if not,
whether the action should be dismissed in the absence of that
party. Id. at *779. The burden of
persuasion is on the party moving to dismiss for failure to
join. Makah Indian Tribe v. Verity, 910 F.2d 555,
558 (9th Cir. 1990); Sulit v. Slep-Tone Entm't,
No. C06-00045 MJJ, 2007 WL 4169762, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 20,
determine whether a party is necessary under Rule 19(a), the
court “must consider whether ‘complete
relief' can be accorded among the existing parties, and
whether the absent party has a ‘legally protected
interest' in the subject of the suit.”
NovelPoster v. Javitch Canfield Group, No.
13-cv-05186-WHO, 2014 WL 1312111, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 1,
2014) (quoting Shermoen v. United States, 982 F.2d
1312, 1317 (9th Cir. 1992)). There is no precise formula for
determining whether a particular nonparty should be joined
under Rule 19(a). “The determination is heavily
influenced by the facts and circumstances of each