TURNER v. JOHNSON et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER denying 22 Motion to Consolidate Cases. Signed by Judge Peter G. Sheridan on 11/29/2017. (km)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
JUAN IBN-DON MUMIT TURNER,
Civil Action No. 17-0541 (PGS)(TJB)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEVEN JOHNSON, et al.,
JUAN IBN-DON MUMIT TURNER,
Civil Action No. 17-3 189 (PGS)(LHG)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MELONIE BURAK, et al.,
Plaintiff files the instant actions pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
1983, asserting that various
defendants violated his constitutional rights. Presently before the Court are Plaintiff’s motions to
consolidate in both matters, asserting that the cases are appropriate for consolidation because they
assert the same legal claims, namely denial of access to the courts claims. Case No. 17-0541,
ECF No. 22; Case No. 17-3189, ECF No. 26. Defendants in both cases do not oppose the motions.
For the reasons stated below, the motions are denied.
In Turner v. Johnson, Plaintiff asserts that defendants violated his constitutional right to
access the courts when they deliberately withheld delivery of a district court’s order denying his
federal habeas petition until after his time to appeal had expired, thereby depriving him of the
opportunity to appeal the habeas denial. In Turner v. Burak, Plaintiff asserts that defendants
impermissibly confiscated three affidavits supporting his motion for a new trial in state court, after
he had presented the affidavits for copying to the law library staff, on the account of an
investigation by the prison into how he was able to obtain the affidavits while in prison. Due to
the confiscation, Plaintiff alleges that he was prevented from filing a timely motion for a new trial
based on these affidavits. Reviewing the factual allegations, the two incidents do not appear to
be related to each other, other than the fact that they both involve denial of access to the courts
claims. Furthermore, the two actions do not involve common defendants.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) governs motions for consolidation. Rule 42(a)
states that “[i]f actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may:
(1) join for hearing or trial any or all matters at issue in the actions; (2) consolidate the actions; or
(3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a). Although
not directly applicable, courts have found a motion to consolidate cases involving different
defendants analogous to a request for joinder of parties under Rule 20. See Garza v. Phillips 66
Co., No. 13-0742, 2016 WL 1171004, at *4 n.8 (M.D. La. Mar. 4,2016); Chambers v. King Buick
GMC, LLC, 43 F. Supp. 3d 575, 626 (D. Md. 2014). Rule 20 permits joinder of defendants only
when “(A) any right to relief is asserted against them jointly, severally, or in the alternative with
respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or
occurrences; and (B) any question of law or fact common to all defendants will arise in the action.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 20(a)(2) (emphasis added). Rule 20 “is not a license to join unrelated claims and
defendants in one lawsuit.” Paladino v. Newsome, No. 12—2021, 2012 WL 3315571, at *5 (D.N.J.
(D.N.J. Aug. 13, 2012) (citing Pruden v. SCI Camp Hill, 252 F. App’x 436 (3d Cir. 2007) (per
curiam)). No claims addressing unrelated events, be these claims jammed into a single set of
pleadings or spread among multiple complaints submitted for filing in the same matter, could
satisfy the requirements of Rule 20. Marrakush Soc y v. NJ. State Police, No. 09-2518, 2009
WL 2366132, at *27 (D.N.J. July 30, 2009).
Here, as the Court found above, Plaintiffs claims in the two cases arose out of distinctly
separate incidents. Moreover, there is not even one defendant common to both cases. Had these
claims been asserted in a single action, the Court would have found the parties impermissibly
joined under Rule 20. Although the cases share a common question of law, that is all they share;
judicial economy would hardly be realized since discovery in the two cases have to be conducted
separately out of necessity, and this Court would never allow trials to be consolidated, as the
finding of liability by the jury in one case may unduly influence the question of liability in the
other case. See Grodjeski v. Plainsboro Twp., 577 F. Supp. 67, 72 (D.N.J. 1983). Accordingly,
the motions to consolidate are denied.
IT IS therefore on this
ORDERED that Plaintiffs motions for consolidation, Case No. 17-0541, ECF No. 22 &
Case No. 17-3 189, ECF No. 26, are hereby DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk shall serve this Order upon Plaintiff by regular mail.
Peter G. Sheridan, U.S.D.J.
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