Law School Case Brief
Torrington Co. v. Yost - 139 F.R.D. 91 (D.S.C. 1991)
Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(b) contains four factors which must be considered when deciding whether to dismiss the action: (1) to what extent a judgment rendered in the person's absence may be prejudicial to the person or those already parties; (2) the extent to which, by protective provisions in the judgment, the prejudice can be lessened or avoided; (3) whether a judgment rendered in the person's absence will be adequate; and (4) whether the plaintiff will have an adequate remedy if the action is dismissed for nonjoinder.
From 1982 to 1990, defendant Mark Yost worked for plaintiff, The Torrington Company ("Torrington"), manufacturing various types of bearings. While at Torrington, Yost signed an agreement not to divulge any secret or confidential information of Torrington. After leaving Torrington, Yost went to work for INA Bearing Company, Inc. ("INA") which was producing the same type of bearings as Torrington. On June 4, 1991, Torrington filed suit against Yost seeking, among other things, an injunction limiting Yost's employment at INA for 18 months and actual damages from the alleged use of Torrington's trade secrets. Yost filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to join Yost's new employer, INA, as an indispensable party. Yost contended that INA's absence would prejudice him and impair INA's interests.
Was INA, as Yost's new employer, an indispensable party to the action under Rule 19?
The court granted Yost's motion to dismiss. The court found that INA should have been joined as a party to the case. According to the court, INA's interest in fulfilling its contract with Yost would be harmed if Yost were enjoined from working for INA. The court averred that the failure to join INA could have resulted in inconsistent obligations for Yost. The court then found it was not feasible to join INA because the joinder would destroy diversity jurisdiction. In finding that the action should be dismissed, the court found that the four factors contained in Rule 19 were all satisfied: A judgment could be prejudicial to Yost, no protective provision was available to lessen the prejudice, any judgment received by Torrington would be inadequate if INA were not a party, and another forum existed because Torrington could still file in state court.
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