Civil Procedure – Joinder of Statutory Causes of Action with Common Law Negligence Where There Are Different Parties Defendant

Plaintiff brought an action against defendant for injuries received in an automobile accident caused by defendant’s negligence in driving while intoxicated. She sought to join with this claim actions against several bar owners under a statute providing for liability of bar owners for injuries caused by one to whom they had unlawfully sold alcoholic beverages. One of the defendant bar owners moved to dismiss for misjoinder or to compel an election of causes on the ground that since only compensatory damages could be recovered against the defendant-consumer upon common law negligence, and both exemplary and compensatory damages could be recovered against the bar owners under the statutory cause, it would be impossible for the court properly to instruct the jury without confusing them as to the issues, with resulting prejudice to the bar owners. Held, joinder allowed. The Michigan joinder provision provides for joinder of causes and multiple defendants when the liability is one asserted against all of the defendants or sufficient grounds shall appear for uniting the causes of action ” … in order to promote the convenient administration of justice.” It would be unjust to force a plaintiff under these circumstances to choose her target from among the defendants, all of whom in violation of the law contributed to her injuries. Since the court could direct the jury to bring in separate verdicts on the different causes, this joinder would not prejudice the defendant. Ruediger v. Klink, (Mich. 1956) 78 N.W. (2d) 248.