United States District Court, W.D. New York
June 3, 2005.
LOUANN S. REHWALDT, Plaintiff,
ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS, Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD ARCARA, District Judge
On May 6, 2005, plaintiff Louann Rehwaldt filed a motion to
consolidate this action with Storms v. Electronic Data Systems,
01-CV-665A.*fn1 Trial of this action, Rehwaldt v.
Electronic Data Systems, is scheduled to commence on June 27,
2005. Trial on the Storms action is scheduled to commence on
September 13, 2005. On May 25, 2005, defendant Electronic Data
Systems filed an opposition to the motion for consolidation.
In the meantime, on May 13, 2005, the parties filed a joint
motion to adjourn the Rehwaldt trial. Oral argument was deemed
unnecessary as to both motions.
With respect to the adjournment, the parties request that the
Rehwaldt trial be adjourned in light of the plaintiff's pending
request for interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit, pursuant
to Rule 23(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 23(f)
A court of appeals may in its discretion permit an
appeal from an order of a district court granting or
denying class action certification under this rule if
application is made to it within ten days after entry
of the order. An appeal does not stay proceedings in
the district court unless the district judge or the
court of appeals so orders.
Plaintiff seeks to appeal this Court's April 13, 2005 order
denying her motion for class certification.
The request for an adjournment is denied. This case is
approximately 10 years old. The trial has been scheduled since
December 2004, and the Court has set aside time in its calendar
for the trial of this matter. Rule 23(f) itself provides that an
appeal under that section does not stay proceedings in the
district court, unless the court orders otherwise. The Court
denied plaintiff's motion for class certification on several
grounds, including timeliness. It is not clear whether the Second
Circuit will even entertain plaintiff's interlocutory appeal. Unless and until the Second Circuit
actually grants permission to appeal, the Court finds it
unnecessary to adjourn the trial.
Plaintiff's request to consolidate this action with the
Storms matter is also denied. Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure provides:
When actions involving a common question of law or
fact are pending before the court, it may order a
joint hearing or trial of any or all the matters in
issue in the actions; it may order all the actions
consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning
proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary
costs or delay.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). The moving party bears the burden of
showing the commonality of factual and legal issues in the
actions it seeks to consolidate. See In re Repetitive Stress
Injury Litig., 11 F.3d 368
, 373 (2d Cir. 1993). In determining
whether to grant consolidation, the Court should "weigh the
saving of time and effort that consolidation would produce
against any inconvenience, delay, or expense that it would
cause." Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, at §
2383. Consolidation may be denied "if the common issue is not a
central one, or if consolidation will cause delay in the
processing of one or more of the individual cases, or will lead
to confusion or prejudice in the management or trial of the
case." Id. (footnotes omitted). The Second Circuit has
cautioned that "[c]onsiderations of convenience and economy must
yield to a paramount concern for a fair and impartial trial." In
re Repetitive Stress Injury Litig., 11 F.3d at 373 (quoting
Johnson v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281
, 1285 (2d Cir.), cert.
denied, 498 U.S. 920
(1990)). Both the Rehwaldt and Storms actions involve the same
defendant, Electronic Data Systems. Both actions also involve
alleged violations of the Equal Pay Act. On the other hand,
unlike the plaintiffs in Storms, Rehwaldt also has a Title VII
discrimination claim and a claim under § 296 of the New York
Human Rights Law. Rehwaldt's EPA claim also involves different
time periods than that of the Storms plaintiffs. Given the
different causes of action and applicable time periods, the Court
finds that it would be prejudicial to the defendant and confusing
to the jury to consolidate the Storms and Rehwaldt actions at
this late date. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion for consolidation
IT IS SO ORDERED.