Hayes v. Bayer CropScience, LP et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER granting the defendants' 5 MOTION to Consolidate Cases; directing that cases Hayes, No. 2:15-cv-07588; Hall, No. 2:15-cv-7589; and Swiger, No. 2:15-cv-7593 be consolidated; Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-07588 (Hayes) shall be designated as the lead case, and the matter shall proceed under that styling. Signed by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin on 10/9/2015. (cc: counsel of record; any unrepresented party) (taq)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:15-cv-07588
BAYER CROPSCIENCE, LP, et al.,
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Pending before the court is the defendants’ Motion to Consolidate Separate Civil Actions
[ECF No. 5]. The defendants seek to consolidate this case; Hall v. Bayer CropScience, LP, et al.,
No. 2:15-cv-7589 (“Hall”); and Swiger v. Bayer CropScience, LP, et al., No. 2:15-cv-7593
(“Swiger”). The plaintiff did not respond to the motion. For the reasons discussed below, the court
GRANTS the defendants’ Motion to Consolidate.
Pursuant to Rule 42(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this court may consolidate
actions pending before it if the actions involve a common question of law or fact. Additionally,
the court may issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost and delay. Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a)(3).
Whether to consolidate actions for trial is committed to the trial court’s discretion. Arnold v. E. Air
Lines, Inc. 681 F.2d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 1982), rev’d on other grounds, 712 F.2d 899 (4th Cir.
1983). When cases involve common witnesses, identical evidence, and similar issues, judicial
economy generally favors consolidation. See Johnson v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281, 1284–85
(2d Cir. 1990). The court, however, must weigh this interest in judicial economy against any
prejudice or confusion consolidation might entail. Arnold, 681 F.2d at 193. The critical issue for
this court is whether the specific risks of prejudice and possible confusion are overborne by the
risk of inconsistent adjudications of common factual and legal issues, the burden on parties,
witnesses and available judicial resources posed by multiple lawsuits, the length of time required
to conclude multiple suits as against a single one, and the relative expense to all concerned. See id.
The plaintiff’s Complaint is nearly identical to those filed in the Hall and Swiger actions. The
kinship shared among these actions is substantial: (1) each action makes a claim for severance pay
in the amount of $25,000; (2) each action asserts a violation of the West Virginia Wage Payment
and Collection Act; (3) each actions seeks specific remedies under the Act; (4) each action has the
same legal counsel appearing; and (5) each action arises out of the same set of operative facts.
The plaintiff in this case will not be prejudiced by consolidation. The evidence necessary for
all three cases will be substantially the same and the application of the law is identical.
Consolidation will reduce the risk of inconsistent jury verdicts and would not likely present any
risk of confusion. As to minor differences of fact, the court may easily instruct the jury as to factual
distinctions among the cases.
Consolidating these cases will guard against unnecessary costs and delays. Proceeding with
one trial in this matter will prevent the expenditure of precious judicial resources that would
otherwise be spent on three separate trials with identical claims against identical defendants. The
parties will also benefit from this economization because time and expense will not be tripled by
the need to conduct three separate—yet so similar—trials.
After considering the similarity between the three actions, the court FINDS that the actions
involve common questions of law and fact. Noting the plaintiff’s lack of opposition, the Court
GRANTS the defendants’ Motion to Consolidate [ECF No. 5] and ORDERS these cases to be
consolidated: Hayes, No. 2:15-cv-07588; Hall, No. 2:15-cv-7589; and Swiger, No. 2:15-cv-7593.
Civil Action No. 2:15-cv-07588 (Hayes) shall be designated as the lead case, and the matter
shall proceed under that styling.
The court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of this Order to counsel of record and any
October 9, 2015
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