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Jones v. Nassau County Correctional Inst.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 26, 2014

DENZEL JONES, DEANDRE MOORE, SEAN LEWIS, LOVENTINO CASSADEAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
NASSAU COUNTY CORRECTIONAL INST., NASSAU COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT., MICHEAL [sic] SPOSATO, Sheriff of Nassau County, Defendants. DEANDRE MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
NASSAU COUNTY CORRECTIONAL INST., MICHEAL [sic] SPOSATO, Sheriff of Nassau County, CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DAILY, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOSEPH F. BIANCO, District Judge.

On February 24, 2014, four incarcerated pro se plaintiffs, Denzel Jones ("Jones"), Deandre Moore ("Moore"), Sean Lewis ("Lewis") and Lovetino Cassadean ("Cassadean") (collectively, "plaintiffs") filed an in forma pauperis civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") against the "Nassau County Correctional Inst." ("the Jail"); the Nassau County Sheriff's Dept." ("the Sheriff's Dept.") and "Micheal [sic] Sposato, Sheriff of Nassau County" ("Sheriff Sposato") that was assigned docket number 14-CV-1217 (the "first complaint"). None of the plaintiffs filed the required Prisoner Authorization Form ("PLRA") and, accordingly, a Notice of Deficiency ("Notice") was sent to each plaintiff on March 3, 2014. The Notice informed the plaintiffs that, in order to proceed with their case, a completed PLRA form must be filed with the Court within fourteen (14) days from the date of the Notice. To date, only Moore has complied. [ See Mt. Entry 6] Accordingly, given the failure of the plaintiffs other than Moore to file the PLRA in accordance with the Notice, or otherwise communicate with the Court, their claims are dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

On March 3, 2014, Moore filed another in forma pauperis civil rights complaint pursuant to Section 1983 alleging the same claim against two of the same defendants, the Jail and Sheriff Sposato, and a new defendant, Nassau County Corrections Officer Daily ("C.O. Daily"). The second complaint was assigned docket number 14-CV-1562 (the "second complaint") (together with the first complaint, "complaints"). Both complaints allege that, on February 3, 2014, while Moore was in protective custody, he was called for inside recreation and "placed in an open bar cage." (Complaints at ¶ IV.) Moore describes that he and his fellow protective custody inmates were "on display" in the cage for the general population inmates who "began to curse, torment and make threats" to Moore. (Second complaint at ¶ IV.) Moore alleges that he questioned CD. Daily as to why the protective custody inmates were placed in the cage with the general population to which C.O. Daily is alleged to have responded: "It was ordered by Micheal [sic] Sposato Sheriff of Nassau County so any complaint talk to him not me." ( Id. )

Moore further claims that on February 6, 2014 he was again placed in "the cage" within the general population area for recreation where a "muscular build inmate from B4D (G.P.) came to the cage & spit on me and told be your [sic] a snitching rat, I know where you & your family lives and threatened] me with physical harm' (Complaints at IV.) Moore further claims that when he complained to unspecified "staff" about the February 6th incident he was told that he should either refuse recreation time or sign out of protective custody. (Second complaint at ¶ IV.) Though Moore has left blank the section on each complaint form that calls for a description of any injuries suffered, Moore seeks unspecified "compensation" for relief in both complaints for the alleged negligence and breach of security by the staff and Sheriff at the Jail. (Complaints at ¶ V.)

Accordingly, for the reasons that follow, the Court consolidates Moore's complaints under the first-filed docket number, 14-CV-1217 and dismisses plaintiff's Section 1983 claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii); 1915A(b)(1) with leave to file an amended complaint as set forth below.

DISCUSSION

I. Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Upon review of plaintiff's declarations in support of his applications to proceed in forma pauperis, the Court determines that plaintiff's financial status qualifies him to commence these actions without prepayment of the filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(0(4 Therefore, plaintiff's requests to proceed in forma pauperis are granted.

II. Consolidation of the Complaints

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42, "[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 actions; (2) consolidate the actions; or (3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay." Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). "The trial court has broad discretion to determine whether consolidation is appropriate." Johnson v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281, 1284-85 (2d Cir. 1990).

Consolidation is appropriate in order to serve the interests of judicial economy. See, e.g., Jacobs v. Castillo, No. 09 Civ. 953 (CM), 2009 WI, 1203942, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 23, 2009) ("Consolidation would further the goal of judicial economy' because discovery in each case is likely to be identical, motion practice and trial in the two cases would most likely cover the same facts and some identical issues of law."). Specifically, consolidation acmes with common questions of law or fact is favored "to avoid unnecessary costs or delay, " Johnson, 899 F.2d at 1284, and to "expedite trial and eliminate unnecessary repetition and confusion, " Devlin, 175 F.3d at 130 (internal citations omitted). Cases may be consolidated where, as here, there are different parties in the complaints. See Werner v. Satterlee, Stephens, Burke & Burke, 797 F.Supp. 1196, 1211 (S.D.N.Y. 1992) ("The fact that there are different parties in this action does not mean this case should not be consolidated."); see also Pirelli Armstrong Tire Corp. Retiree Med. Benefits Trust v. LaBranche & Co., Inc., 229 F.R.D. 395, 402 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (explaining that consolidation is appropriate even where certain defendants are named in only one of the complaints). The paramount concern is whether savings of expense and gains of efficiency can be accomplished without sacrifice of justice. Johnson, 899 F.2d at 1285 ("Considerations of convenience and economy must yield to a paramount concern for a fair and impartial trial.").

"The Second Circuit has long adhered to the first-filed doctrine in deciding which case to dismiss where there are competing litigations. Where there are several competing lawsuits, the first suit should have priority, absent the showing of balance of convenience or special circumstances giving priority to the second." Kellen Co. v. Calphalon Corp., 54 F.Supp.2d 218, 221 (S.D.N.Y. 1999) (internal quotation marks, alterations, and citations omitted); accord Adam v. Jacobs, 950 F.2d 89, 92 (2d Cir. 1991); First City Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. v. Simmons, 878 F.2d 76, 79 (2d Cir. 1989). The first-filed rule seeks to conserve judicial resources and avoid duplicative litigation. See Adam v. Jacobs, 950 F.2d 89, 92 (2d Cir. 1991); First City Nat'l Bank & Trust Co., 878 F.2d at 80; Kellen, 54 F.Supp.2d at 221.

Here, both of the complaints filed by Moore challenge the conditions of his confinement at the jail. Apart from the identity of the defendants in each case, the factual allegations set forth in both complaints are virtually identical. However, the fact that the defendants are different in the two actions does not mean that the cases should not be consolidated. See Werner, 797 F.Supp. at 1211. Rather, the Court, in its discretion, has determined that this difference, together with the common questions of law and fact in both cases, do not outweigh the interests of judicial economy served by consolidation. Accordingly, the Court orders that Moore's complaints be consolidated pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 into the first ...


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