State of Illinois v. Polyone Corporation
ORDER entered by Judge Sara Darrow on December 13, 2013. Plaintiff Illinois' 4 Unopposed Motion for Consolidation of Actions is GRANTED. The clerk is directed to consolidate case No. 13-cv-1555 with No. 13-cv-1550. Parties shall file all future motions, notices, and other documents in the consolidated cases in the earlier filed case, United States v. PolyOne Corporation, No. 13-cv-1550. (JD, ilcd)
Friday, 13 December, 2013 04:28:16 PM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
ROCK ISLAND DIVISION
STATE OF ILLINOIS,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff State of Illinois (“Illinois”) requests that its suit against Defendant PolyOne
Corporation (“PolyOne”) be consolidated with a similar suit before this Court against PolyOne
by the United States of America (“United States”). For the following reasons, the Court
GRANTS Illinois’ Unopposed Motion for Consolidation of Actions, ECF No. 4.1
On November 20, 2013, the United States initiated a suit against PolyOne for alleged
violations of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 7401 et seq., the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (“RCRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et seq., and the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C.
Unless otherwise indicated, all docket citations reference State of Illinois v. PolyOne Corporation, No. 13-cv-1555.
§ 1311 et seq., at former PolyOne facilities in Henry, Illinois, and Pedricktown, New Jersey. No.
13-cv-1550, ECF No. 1. The same day, the United States filed a proposed Consent Decree that
would resolve all its claims against PolyOne, which was signed by PolyOne, Illinois, the United
States, and PolyOne facilities’ purchaser Mexichem Specialty Resins, Inc. (“Mexichem”).2 No. 13cv-1550, ECF No. 4. The Decree notes that the plaintiffs planned to request consolidation of the
state and federal cases, and that PolyOne did not object. Id. at 3.
On November 22, 2013, Illinois filed its suit against PolyOne, seeking similar relief for
similar alleged violations of the CAA, the RCRA, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, 415
ILCS 5/1 et seq., at PolyOne’s Illinois facility. ECF No. 1. Illinois followed with a motion to
consolidate the cases on December 4, 2013, in which it affirmed that the Consent Decree in the
United States’ case would also resolve all Illinois’ claims against PolyOne. ECF No. 4 at 1.
I. Legal Standard
A court may consolidate cases if they “involve a common question of law or fact.” Fed.
R. Civ. P. 42(a)(2). Local Rule 42.1 requires a party to notify the court “at the first opportunity”
when the party “knows that a newly filed case is related to another case already pending in the
district.” The decision to consolidate is committed to the court’s discretion. Disher v. Citigroup
Global Mkts., Inc., 487 F. Supp. 2d 1009, 1013 (S.D. Ill. 2007) (citing United States v. Knauer,
149 F.2d 519, 520 (7th Cir. 1945)). Courts consider factors such as: the similarity of questions
of law and fact, the goals of judicial efficiency and avoidance of inconsistent verdicts, and
Under the terms of its Asset Purchase Agreement, incorporated into the Consent Decree, Mexichem has agreed to
meet all outstanding obligations of PolyOne under the Consent Decree not yet performed at time of closing. ECF
No. 1 at 3; No. 13-cv-1550, ECF No. 4 at 3.
whether consolidation will delay the proceeding, Slezak v. Indep. Courier Servs., Inc., Nos. 12cv-1477, 13-cv-1037, 2013 WL 442772, at *1 (C.D. Ill. Feb. 5, 2013), as well as the risk of jury
confusion and impact of consolidation on each party’s right to receive a fair trial, Davis v. City of
Springfield, No. 07-3096, 2007 WL 3243053, at *2 (C.D. Ill. Nov. 1. 2007) (holding that risk of
prejudice to defendants “tips the balance in favor of separate trials”).
Consolidation regularly occurs where federal and local governments enter into a joint
consent decree with a defendant facing overlapping environmental claims. See, e.g., City of
Bloomington v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 824 F.2d 531, 533 (7th Cir. 1987) (noting that district
court consolidated city and federal cases against alleged polluter subject to entry of final consent
decree); Frey v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 00-cv-660, 2008 WL 696009, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Mar.
11, 2008) (noting consolidation of municipal and federal suits to obtain consent decree
compelling defendant to cleanup contaminated dump sites).
The United States’ and Illinois’ suits against PolyOne involve similar issues of law and
fact, as the plaintiffs implicitly affirm in acknowledging that the single Consent Decree—to
which all parties in both cases are signatories—would resolve all claims against PolyOne. This
is to be expected, as the suits each allege that many of the same activities and omissions by
PolyOne at the Henry facility violated many of the same provisions of the CAA and RCRA. The
anticipated ability to dispose of both cases through a single ruling on the Consent Decree
undeniably serves the interest of judicial economy and prevents inconsistent judgments. The
early, undeveloped status of both cases and presence of a pre-negotiated, comprehensive Consent
Decree indicate that consolidation would not delay, but likely accelerate, disposition of the cases.
Finally, the absence of any objection to consolidation and the parties’ pre-existing agreement on
the terms of the proposed settlement suggest that no party is likely to be denied a fair trial or
otherwise prejudiced by consolidation. Consolidation of the cases is therefore appropriate.
Plaintiff Illinois’ Unopposed Motion for Consolidation of Actions, ECF No. 4, is
GRANTED. The clerk is directed to consolidate case No. 13-cv-1555 with No. 13-cv-1550.
Parties shall file all future motions, notices, and other documents in the consolidated cases in the
earlier filed case, United States v. PolyOne Corporation, No. 13-cv-1550.
Entered this 13th day of December, 2013.
s/ Sara Darrow
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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