and/or indemnification against its own citizens — citizens which
have lived with the uncertainty of this litigation for almost
twenty years, and citizens which for the most part are merely
victims of history.
Furthermore, although regrettably the Cayugas have not yet
agreed to dismiss their claims against the individual landowners,
it appears that they, too, do not intend to pursue such claims if
they are permitted to proceed against the State alone. See Tr.
II at 16-17 (Counsel for the Cayuga Nation opined, "as a
practical matter if there is one trial against the State that
will be it."). In light of the foregoing, because the likelihood
of future subsequent trials seems all but moot, the State's
argument that separate trials should not be conducted because of
a potential overlap in proof is wholly unfounded.
Moreover, allowing plaintiffs to proceed to trial first against
the State of New York would obviate the need for approximately
7,000 additional trials. Thus, a separate trial against the State
would serve one of the primary purposes of Rule 42(b) which is "a
just and expeditious final disposition of th[is] litigation[.]"
See FEDERAL PRACTICE § 2388. Proceeding in this fashion will
not only eliminate the need to try a single additional issue;
almost certainly, a trial against the State only will eliminate
the need to try literally thousands of additional issues.
Consequently, it is difficult to imagine a case where the goals
of a separate trial, as set forth in Rule 42(b), would be better
served than the present one. Moreover, as the United States
readily concedes, a finding of joint and several liability is
not an absolute prerequisite to a finding that the present
litigation could be handled most expeditiously and efficiently by
proceeding first with a separate trial against the State. See
Tr. II at 4. Accordingly, the court grants the United States'
motion for a separate trial.
If it is necessary to proceed with damage trials with respect
to the other, non-State defendants, including the approximately
7,000 individual landowners, such trial or trials will be
conducted at a later date. The necessity of future trials seems
highly unlikely, though, given the pledges by the Cayugas, the
United States, and by the State, that once the matter is resolved
as against the State, the parties just named will not be pursuing
any further claims in connection with this litigation. In the
event that future trials are necessary, the parties should keep
in mind, especially the Counties, that the State may pursue
claims of contribution and/or indemnification as against the
Counties. The same is also true with respect to the other
III. Class Decertification
Having determined that separate trials will be conducted, with
the first trial proceeding against the State as the sole
defendant, there is no need for the court the decide the
decertification issue at this juncture. Consequently, Miller
Brewing's motion to decertify the Class is denied without
prejudice to renew.
Today the court has attempted to craft a procedure whereby the
issue of damages can be resolved without a morass of complicated
and lengthy litigation which could easily extend well into the
next century. To avoid such a prospect, the court has decided
that a single trial against the State of New York as the sole
defendant is the only practical way to proceed here. At the same
time, however, although the court believes such concerns to be
unfounded, it is acutely aware of the non-State defendants'
concerns as to the potential preclusive effect such a trial could
have on future, subsequent trials against those defendants. As it
has since the possibility of a separate trial against the State
first arose, the court stresses that the non-State defendants,
which by court order are not participating in this upcoming
trial, are not bound in any way, such as through the application
of collateral estoppel or res
judicata, by any determinations made in the State's damage trial.
IT IS SO ORDERED.