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Author Topic: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question  (Read 1120 times)

zemog

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Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« on: November 23, 2005, 03:25:18 PM »
I need help with this question below. I do not have the answer from the prof. 
_____________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ _

George and Laura have joint ownership of a house in Texas.  Laura's daughter, Jenna, by a previous marriage, moved into the house after George and Laura moved to Washington.  George has filed suit to evict Jenna and for $100,000 in back rent.  Jenna has filed a counterclaim alleging that she now has sole ownership of the house because Laura secretly gave her a deed.  George moves to dismiss Jenna's counterclaim for failure to join a FRCP Rule 19 (necessary & indispensable) party, Laura.  George is now a citizen of Washington and Jenna and Laura are citizens of Texas.  The case has been filed in federal court, based solely on diversity.

A.  The judge will dismiss the suit because you should never sue your mother.

B.  Laura can be joined because this is a cross-claim and is a claim by a party not arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.

C.  Laura need not be joined.

D.  Laura cannot be joined because it would destroy diversity and thus the counterclaim must be dismissed.

E.  Although Laura should be joined, she is only a necessary, not an indispensable party.
_____________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ _

I thought the answer should be D, but at the time the suit was filed, it would not destroy diversity and I thought that's when diversity counts, not after the filing.  So I'm not sure if the sentence "George is now a citizen of Washington and Jenna and Laura are citizens of Texas" is to throw me off or the prof messed up and should have put that before the filing.  I also thought Laura should be joined because she's co-owner but I'm not sure. 

Any help and explanation is appreciated.


jimmyjohn

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2005, 07:19:57 PM »
I need help with this question below. I do not have the answer from the prof. 
_____________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ _

George and Laura have joint ownership of a house in Texas.  Laura's daughter, Jenna, by a previous marriage, moved into the house after George and Laura moved to Washington.  George has filed suit to evict Jenna and for $100,000 in back rent.  Jenna has filed a counterclaim alleging that she now has sole ownership of the house because Laura secretly gave her a deed.  George moves to dismiss Jenna's counterclaim for failure to join a FRCP Rule 19 (necessary & indispensable) party, Laura.  George is now a citizen of Washington and Jenna and Laura are citizens of Texas.  The case has been filed in federal court, based solely on diversity.

A.  The judge will dismiss the suit because you should never sue your mother.

B.  Laura can be joined because this is a cross-claim and is a claim by a party not arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.

C.  Laura need not be joined.

D.  Laura cannot be joined because it would destroy diversity and thus the counterclaim must be dismissed.

E.  Although Laura should be joined, she is only a necessary, not an indispensable party.
_____________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ _

I thought the answer should be D, but at the time the suit was filed, it would not destroy diversity and I thought that's when diversity counts, not after the filing.  So I'm not sure if the sentence "George is now a citizen of Washington and Jenna and Laura are citizens of Texas" is to throw me off or the prof messed up and should have put that before the filing.  I also thought Laura should be joined because she's co-owner but I'm not sure. 

Any help and explanation is appreciated.



My first instinct is that you're right.  And if the answer if D, the counterclaim should be dismissed to the state courts.

However, I'm not so sure that Laura is an indispensible, or even a necessary party for purposes of this action.  There are two parties claiming ownership of the house, George and Jenna.  Laura is out as far as claiming a separate stake here.   

Presumably, it would be just as easy to depose Laura and call her as a witness in order to determine whether she secretly conveyed the deed.  I don't see any claims where, if Laura is not joined as a party, complete relief cannot be afforded.  I would argue that whether or not she conveyed the deed secretly is a question of fact that could be taken care of in discovery without adding her as a party to the litigation.  She doesn't really have a separate stake other than the fact that she conveyed the house.  She's basically on Jenna's side and should be a witness rather than another party to the suit.

So, I'm going to say that C is the answer.

Wild Jack Maverick

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2005, 08:08:09 PM »
I will guess that since Texas is a community property state, and the property was co-owned by the husband and wife, (assuming that the wife did not have POA and the property was not partitioned) the wife did not have the right to convey the property without agreement of the husband? Therefore, without the husband's signature, the property is still legally owned by both George and Laura, and Laura should be joined.
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jimmyjohn

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2005, 09:12:40 PM »
I will guess that since Texas is a community property state, and the property was co-owned by the husband and wife, (assuming that the wife did not have POA and the property was not partitioned) the wife did not have the right to convey the property without agreement of the husband? Therefore, without the husband's signature, the property is still legally owned by both George and Laura, and Laura should be joined.

I was thinking about the importance of that fact.  If this is a civ pro question I don't know why it's in there because it requires an analysis of property law.

Notwithstanding the obvious references in the fact pattern, it doesn't say anywhere in the hypo that they are married, it just says joint owners.  Now that can be construed lots of different ways, but just from the literal meaning joint owners means joint owners w/rights of survivorship.  With that type of property, either person can convey their interest and effectively end the joint tenancy.  If that is indeed what happened here, Laura wouldn't need to be joined here if she  has unilaterally given up her rights to the house.

But, even if it turns out she has not given up her rights, joint tenants will own equal shares of the property in its entirety.  It seems that George could go to court for her, since whatever judgment he obtains could also bind her since they own jointly.  I just don't see any reason why she needs to be a party to the action.

zemog

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2005, 01:33:39 AM »
Thanks everyone for your help and analysis.

Just so I am understanding the very specific part about the filing...Diversity only counts at the time of filing right???? 

Because before the suit of 100k and counterclaim, Laura was in Wa. and Jenna was in Texas. There would still be valid diversity.  Then afterwards, George moves to dismiss because of Rule 19, and then it states Laura and Jenna were both in Texas.

So, it could not be D because we are only looking at the time when Laura was in Wa. and Jenna was in Texas, NOT when Laura and Jenna were both in Texas.

Did I get this reasoning correct?




jimmyjohn

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2005, 02:03:44 AM »
Thanks everyone for your help and analysis.

Just so I am understanding the very specific part about the filing...Diversity only counts at the time of filing right???? 

Because before the suit of 100k and counterclaim, Laura was in Wa. and Jenna was in Texas. There would still be valid diversity.  Then afterwards, George moves to dismiss because of Rule 19, and then it states Laura and Jenna were both in Texas.

So, it could not be D because we are only looking at the time when Laura was in Wa. and Jenna was in Texas, NOT when Laura and Jenna were both in Texas.

Did I get this reasoning correct?





I think that's right.  But in order to consider the parties at the time of filing, they actually have to be parties when the suit is filed.  In this case, Laura is not even a party yet, so I think when and if she is made a party, that is when we would consider her citizenship status.

The next question you have to ask is what side would she be on if she is joined. If she comes in with George diversity would not be destroyed, but if she comes in with Jenna we have a problem. 

Wild Jack Maverick

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2005, 07:05:56 AM »
I will guess that since Texas is a community property state, and the property was co-owned by the husband and wife, (assuming that the wife did not have POA and the property was not partitioned) the wife did not have the right to convey the property without agreement of the husband? Therefore, without the husband's signature, the property is still legally owned by both George and Laura, and Laura should be joined.

I was thinking about the importance of that fact.  If this is a civ pro question I don't know why it's in there because it requires an analysis of property law.
Notwithstanding the obvious references in the fact pattern, it doesn't say anywhere in the hypo that they are married, it just says joint owners. 

ah, yes. Is that "conjecture?" If so, then how did George and Laura move to Washington, George became a citizen of Washington, but Laura remained a citizen of Texas? (The hypo doesn't say that Laura moved back to Texas.) I suppose George and Laura moved at different times. The hypo does not state that there was a lease, or any agreement for rent--therefore, how could Jenna owe any back rent? The hypo also does not say that Laura actually gave the deed to Jenna, but only that Jenna uses that for her counterclaim.


And for that matter, I have just come from answering various paternity questions. Does George know that Laura was previously married and that Jenna isn't his daughter? Were there bloodtests? Or maybe George is Laura's previous husband, and Jenna is his daughter.
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jimmyjohn

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2005, 10:25:23 AM »
Anyway, that wasn't my point.

All I'm saying is that it's a civ pro question and shouldn't require analysis of different types of property arrangements, especially if the OP doesn't go to law school in Texas.  How would he know that Texas is a community property state? 

Wild Jack Maverick

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2005, 05:48:05 PM »
Anyway, that wasn't my point.

All I'm saying is that it's a civ pro question and shouldn't require analysis of different types of property arrangements, especially if the OP doesn't go to law school in Texas.  How would he know that Texas is a community property state? 

The point is....that there is a reason why George thinks Laura should be joined, besides simply attempting to have Jenna's counterclaim dismissed. The fact that the scenario specifically names two states (instead of any two states) would mean that there is something that the reader should know. The property in question is at Texas, which is a community property state. It would make a difference if George and Laura are married.

I suppose it would also make a difference if a Civ Pro student hadn't yet studied anything about real estate/property law or marital assets.
The community property states are:

 Arizona
 California
 Idaho
 Louisiana
 Nevada
 New Mexico
 Texas
 Washington
 Wisconsin
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zemog

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Re: Civ Pro Multiple Choice question
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2005, 10:52:26 PM »
jimmyjohn, you were correct, the answer was C. 

And again, thanks everyone for all the help.