City of Canton, Ohio v. Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc.
Memorandum of Opinion and Order For the reasons set forth herein, the Motion to Consolidate (ECF No. 22 ) is denied. Judge Benita Y. Pearson on 10/16/2017. (JLG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
CITY OF CANTON, OHIO,
HYDRO-DYNE ENGINEERING, INC.,
CASE NO. 5:17CV729
JUDGE BENITA Y. PEARSON
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
[Resolving ECF No. 22 ]
Pending before the Court is a Motion to Consolidate. ECF No. 22. The City of Canton,
Ohio (“City” or “Canton”), and Shook Construction Company (“Shook”) request the
consolidation of City of Canton, Ohio v. Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc., 5:17CV729, as a related
case to Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc. v. Shook Construction Company, 5:17CV1456, ECF No.
22 (Case No. 5:17CV729); ECF No. 6 (Case No. 5:17CV1456). For the reasons set forth below,
the Motion to Consolidate (ECF No. 22), pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a), is denied.
On April 7, 2017, Defendant Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc. (“Hydro-Dyne”) removed the
instant action from the Stark County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas, on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. ECF No. 1 (Case No. 5:17CV729). In City of
Canton, Ohio v. Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc. (the “Canton Litigation”), Plaintiff asserts several
claims against Defendant Hydro-Dyne for failure to properly design and manufacture equipment
used in the upgrade and expansion of Plaintiff’s Water Reclamation Facility Project. ECF No. 11 (Case No. 5:17CV729). Plaintiff’s claims include allegations of: (1) breach of express
warranty; (2) breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; (3) breach of implied
warranty in tort; (4) negligent misrepresentation; (5) promissory estoppel; and (6) breach of
While the Canton Litigation was pending before this Court, on July 11, 2017, HydroDyne filed a complaint against Shook as Defendant. In that case, Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc.
v. Shook Construction Company (the “Shook Litigation”), Plaintiff Hydro-Dyne alleges a single
breach of contract claim against Defendant Shook for failure to pay for equipment and services
Plaintiff Hydro-Dyne performed under their Purchase Agreement and Change Orders. ECF No. 1
(Case No. 5:17CV1456). The Shook Litigation is assigned to Judge John R. Adams.
Now, Plaintiff City of Canton, Ohio and Defendant Shook Construction Company, move
for the consolidation1 of the aforementioned cases, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a). See ECF
No. 22 (Case No. 5:17CV729); ECF No. 6 (Case No. 5:17CV1456). As explained below, the
motion to consolidate is denied.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 provides 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 action; (2) consolidate the actions; or (3) issue any orders to avoid unnecessary cost
Technically, there can be no consolidation without the matters first being transferred to
the docket of the same judge. Because the motion to consolidate is denied, the motion’s failure
to address transfer is not further discussed.
or delay.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a). Consolidation of cases rests within the discretion of the trial
court. Cantrell v. GAF Corp., 999 F.2d 1007, 1011 (6th Cir. 1993); Hendrix v.
Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 776 F.2d 1492, 1496 (11th Cir. 1985). In deciding whether to
consolidate cases for trial, the district court considers the following factors: (1) whether the
specific risk of prejudice and possible confusion are outweighed by the risk of inconsistent
adjudication of common factual and legal issues; (2) the burden on the parties, witnesses, and
available judicial resources posed by multiple lawsuits; (3) the length of time required to
conclude multiple suits as opposed to a single one; and (4) the relative expense to all parties of a
single trial versus multiple trials. Cantrell, 999 F.2d at 1011.
“[C]onsolidation does not merge the suits into a single action, change the rights of parties,
or make parties in one suit parties in the other.” McCauley v. America’s Pizza Co., LLC, 2017
WL 1787538, at *2 (S.D. Ohio May 5, 2017) (quoting Twaddle v. Diem, 200 F. App’x 435, 438
n.4 (6th Cir. 2006). “[I]t is the district court’s responsibility to ensure that parties are not
prejudiced by consolidation.” Id. (quoting Lewis v. ACB Bus. Servs., Inc., 135 F.3d 389, 412–13
(6th Cir. 1998)).
The Court finds that consolidation is not appropriate. Although the cases arise out of the
same underlying series of events, the legal issues asserted in the Canton Litigation are not
present in the Shook Litigation. As Defendant Hydro-Dyne correctly points out, the two cases
raise several differing legal questions: the Canton Litigation involves interpretation of the terms
of, and obligations of the parties under the Purchase Agreement to a party not in privity of
contract with Defendant Hydro-Dyne; the Shook Litigation requires the interpretation of the
Purchase Agreement between the contracting parties, and asks whether there was a breach of
contract. See ECF No. 23 at PageID#: 141 (Case No. 5:17CV729).
With these considerations in mind, the Court turns to the question of whether risks of
prejudice and possible confusion are outweighed by the savings of litigants and judicial resources
achieved by consolidation or the risk of inconsistent adjudications. Guild Assocs., Inc. v. BioEnergy (Wash.), LLC, 309 F.R.D. 436, 440–41 (S.D. Ohio 2015). “Factors that may cause
prejudice and jury confusion include complex legal theories and factual proof.” Id. at 441.
“Efficiency is determined by the need to analyze issues common to all parties, overlap in
discovery, witnesses, and evidence.” Id.
Because the cases at issue require resolution of differing legal issues, the adjudication of
one case will not necessarily aid in the adjudication of the other. The Canton Litigation centers
on the relationship of parties not in privity of contract and the functionality of industrial
equipment. For the Canton Litigation alone, a jury will likely need to analyze the relationship
between the parties, as well as technical evidence and expert testimony pertaining to machine
functions. Conversely, the Shook Litigation deals with a breach of contract issue strictly between
Plaintiff Hydro-Dyne and Defendant Shook, a non-party to the Canton Litigation. See ECF No.
23 at PageID#: 144 (Case No. 5:17CV729). In the Shook Litigation, a jury will likely be tasked
with issues pertaining solely to whether “[Plaintiff] Hydro-Dyne had a contract with [Defendant]
Shook . . . [,] provided goods pursuant to that contract,” and Defendant Shook wrongfully
withheld payment. Id. The consolidation of these cases, which require distinct factual and legal
analysis, are likely to create juror confusion, and result in prejudice, delay, and unnecessary
expense. Efficiency is best achieved by adjudicating the two cases separately. Accordingly, the
Court denies the motion to consolidate City of Canton, Ohio v. Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc.,
and Hydro-Dyne Engineering, Inc. v. Shook Construction Company.
For the reasons set forth above, the Motion to Consolidate (ECF No. 22) is denied.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
October 16, 2017
/s/ Benita Y. Pearson
Benita Y. Pearson
United States District Judge
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