United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. NOCE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff Vinson
Mortgage Services, Inc., to consolidate this case under
E.D.Mo. L.R. 42-4.03 with Vester et al. v. Carson et
al., No. 4:18 CV 626 PLC, filed April 18, 2018. (Doc.
35). Defendants object to the motion. (Doc. 40). The Court
heard oral arguments on this matter on May 3, 2018.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42, a court may consolidate
actions that “involve a common question of law or
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(2). In such cases, it may
also issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or
delay. Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(3). Consolidation does not
“completely merg[e] the constituent cases into one,
” but rather “enable[es] more efficient case
management while preserving the distinct identities of the
cases and the rights of the separate parties in them.”
Hall v. Hall, 138 S.Ct. 1118, 1125 (2018). The party
seeking consolidation has the burden of showing the
commonality of factual and legal issues. PB&J
Software, LLC v. Acronis, Inc., No. 4:12 CV 690 SNLJ,
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145994, 2012 WL 4815132 at *2 (E.D. Mo.
Oct. 10, 2012).
considering the appropriateness of consolidation, courts
weigh the “risks of prejudice and possible
confusion” against “the risk of inconsistent
adjudications, ” as well as the burden on parties,
witnesses, and judicial resources if there are multiple
lawsuits as opposed to a single lawsuit. Davidson
Surface/Air Inc. v. Bahsoun, No. 4:15 CV 1183 RLW, 2017
WL 1497895, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 24, 2017) (citations
omitted). District courts enjoy “substantial
discretion” in deciding a motion to consolidate.
Hall, 138 S.Ct. at 1131. A court acts within this
discretion when it consolidates cases with “common
parties, overlapping legal issues, and related factual
scenarios, ” provided that the consolidation does not
cause unfair prejudice. Horizon Asset Mgt., Inc. v. H
& R Block, Inc., 580 F.3d 755, 769 (8th Cir. 2009).
cases at issue share parties. The defendants in these cases
are identical. The plaintiff in this case is not identical to
the plaintiffs in Vester, Mr. Kevin Vester and Mr.
Ray Shawn Vinson, III, but all three plaintiffs are closely
related, as Vester and Vinson are the owners of plaintiff
matters also share common issues of law and fact permitting
consolidation. Without making prospective legal
pronouncements, suffice it to say that the Court must decide,
among the several issues presented, whether the government
lawfully decided that the company, through Vester and Vinson,
misrepresented its net worth when submitting its annual
recertification statements. In both cases, the Court must
also decide whether the government unlawfully disregarded the
defense that the company's violation, through Vester and
Vinson, reflected generally accepted accounting principles.
The plaintiffs in both actions seek judicial review of the
related agency actions under the Administrative Procedures
Act, so the Court will be measuring the legal sufficiency of
both administrative actions against the same standards.
sure, review of the debarment action in Vester
involves different regulations than were applied in the other
case and an independent record. The government claims that
consolidation is likely to lead to undue delay in
Vester, as its underlying administrative record is
much smaller than the one involved in the withdrawal
proceeding. The government claims this would cause it to be
unfairly prejudiced. The Court agrees that merger of the
cases is not appropriate. Instead, it will order the
reassignment of Vester to the undersigned judge and
consider a consolidated briefing and hearing schedule, to be
proposed by the parties.
Court finds that this order under Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(3) will
promote efficiency and will not unfairly prejudice any party.
Any risk of prejudice, possible confusion or delay, and
inconsistent adjudications in these cases should be minimized
by the reassignment of Vester to the undersigned
judge. The consolidation of some of the proceedings is likely
to avoid unnecessary waste of judicial resources and
additional cost and delay to the parties, allowing the Court
to more efficiently handle the cases while still maintaining
each case's distinct identity.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's
motion for consolidation of Vester et al. v. Carson et
al., No. 4:18 CV 626, with the instant case (Doc. 35) is
GRANTED, in that the Clerk is ORDERED to reassign
Vester to the undersigned United States Magistrate
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this Order of Consolidation
be filed in No. 4:18 CV 626, as well as the instant case, and
that all future documents be filed in the respective cases.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that not later than June 15,
2018, the parties must file a joint proposed scheduling plan
for these consolidated actions that addresses any appropriate
amendments to the Case Management Order. Upon receipt of the
joint proposed scheduling ...