Bower v. BDO USA LLP
OPINION AND ORDER denying 18 Motion to Reassign Case..(Signed by Judge Melinda Harmon) Parties notified.(jdav, 4)
United States District Court
Southern District of Texas
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
HANG L BOWER,
BDO USA LLP,
June 19, 2017
David J. Bradley, Clerk
CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:16-CV-02649
OPINION AND ORDER
Pending in the above-referenced cause is Plaintiff Hang L. Bower (“Bower”) and
Defendant BDO USA, LLP’s (“BDO”) Joint Motion to Reassign (“Joint Motion”). Doc. 18.
Having considered the Motion, rules, relevant law, and related case, the Court denies the Joint
On August 31, 2016, Bower filed her Complaint in the present case. Doc. 1. In her
Complaint, Bower alleges that her employer BDO intentionally discriminated against her on the
basis of her race and retaliated against her in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Id. ¶¶ 19–24. Bower
alleges that as a result of the discrimination and retaliation she was constructively discharged on
January 31, 2014. Id. ¶ 24.
After her discharge, Bower filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (“EEOC”). In connection with the EEOC’s investigation of BDO, on July 14, 2015,
it issued an administrative subpoena to the company. Order at 1, EEOC v. BDO, USA, LLP,
Misc. Action No. 4:15-mc-02961 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 11, 2016), ECF No. 17. When the parties failed
to come to an agreement on BDO’s withholding of 278 documents on the grounds of attorneyclient privilege, on December 10, 2015, the EEOC filed an Application for an Order to Show
Cause Why an Administrative Subpoena Should Not Be Enforced Against BDO in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. Id.; ECF No. 1. The
case was assigned to Judge Sim Lake and Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson.
According to Bower and BDO, the earlier-filed EEOC case is related to the present case.
As the parties state in their Joint Motion, the two cases “raise some of the same allegations and
issues.” Doc. 18 ¶ 3. Accordingly, the parties seek to have this Court “reassign this case to the
Honorable Judge Sim Lake.” Id. at 1. The parties cite no authority and provide no further
argument in support of this request.
While the Court understands the parties’ rationale for the present Joint Motion, the Court
cannot assign a case to another judge simply because the cases are related and the other judge is
familiar with the facts and circumstances relevant to both cases. See Griffin v. ABN AMRO
Mortg. Grp., Inc., 3:14-CV-00022-GHD, 2014 WL 1056958, at *1 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 17, 2014)
(denying request to reassign a related case that did not provide legal support for the request).
Indeed, the only reassignment mechanisms the Court is aware of are intended to address alleged
partiality on the part of the judge or venue considerations. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 (addressing
reassignment on account of bias or prejudice of judge), 455 (addressing disqualification of judge
on partiality grounds), 1404 (addressing transfer to another district or division), 1406 (addressing
transfer to another district or division to cure defective venue).
If the parties feel that the relatedness of the cases merits consolidation, they are advised
to follow the procedure for consolidation outlined in Local Rule 7.6 by filing a motion to
consolidate in the earlier-filed EEOC case. However, as the parties are no doubt aware, that case
is currently on appeal, which means that Judge Lake has no jurisdiction to consider such a
motion at this time. Nevertheless, if the case is remanded to Judge Lake, the parties may file their
motion at that time. In the meantime, and for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby
ORDERED that the Joint Motion to Reassign, Doc. 18, is DENIED.
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, this 19th day of June, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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