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Crews v. Nassau County Correctional Facility

United States District Court, E.D. New York

April 22, 2014

KEITH CREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
NASSAU COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, MICHEAL [SIC] SPAZOTTA [SIC], Presiding Sheriff of the Nassau County Correctional Center, Defendants.

ORDER

SANDRA J. FEUERSTEIN, District Judge.

Pursuant to the Court's May 20, 2013 Order of Consolidation, the Court has reviewed the instant complaint and finds that it relates to the subject matter of the Consolidated Action, Reid, et al. v. Nassau County Sheriff's Department, et al., 13-CV-1192 (SJF)(WDW). Accordingly, this action shall proceed in accordance with the Order of Consolidation, a copy of which is annexed hereto.

The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for the purpose of any appeal. See Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 444-45, 82 S.Ct. 917, 8 L.Ed.2d 21 (1962).

The Clerk of Court is directed to mail a copy of this Order and the Order of Consolidation to the pro se plaintiff at his last known address.

SO ORDERED.

FEUERSTEIN, District Judge.

Pursuant to a February 13, 2012 Order in Anderson, et al. v. Sposato, et al., 11-CV-5663 (SJF)(WDW) ("the Anderson case"), over one hundred (100) separate pro se complaints brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("Section 1983") challenging the prison conditions allegedly existing at the Nassau County Correctional Center ("NCCC") have been consolidated. By Order dated February 11, 2013, the Court entered a scheduling order ("the Scheduling Order") governing discovery, motion practice and the trial in the Anderson case. The eleven (11) above-captioned pro se complaints were filed in this Court near or after the expiration of several discovery deadlines set forth in the Scheduling Order, all of which are accompanied by applications to proceed in forma pauperis. Like the complaints in the Anderson case, the above-captioned complaints are brought pursuant to Section 1983 and challenge similar prison conditions allegedly existing at the NCCC. Since the financial status of the above-captioned plaintiffs, as set forth in their declarations in support of their applications to proceed in forma pauperis, qualifies them to commence their respective actions without prepayment of the filing fees, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1), the above-captioned plaintiffs' applications to proceed in forma pauperis are granted.

I. Consolidation of Actions

As noted above, the instant complaints allege the existence of unhealthy, unsanitary and/or hazardous conditions at the NCCC. Rule 42(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "riff actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may: * * * consolidate the actions; or issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay." See Devlin v. Transportation Communications Intern. Union, 175 F.3d 121, 130 (2d Cir. 1999). District courts have broad discretion to determine whether consolidation is appropriate, see Johnson v. Celotex Corp., 899 F.2d 1281, 1284-1285 (2d Cir. 1990), and may consolidate actions under Rule 42(a) sua sponte. See Devlin, 175 F.3d at 130. Consolidation "should be prudently employed as a valuable and important tool of judicial administration, * * *, invoked to expedite trial and eliminate unnecessary repetition and confusion." Devlin, 175 F.3d at 130 (internal quotations and citations omitted). Nonetheless, although considerations of judicial economy generally favor consolidation, "[c]onsiderations of convenience and economy must yield to a paramount concern for a fair and impartial trial." Johnson, 899 F.2d at 1285; see also Devlin, 175 F.3d at 130 ("[E]fficiency cannot be permitted to prevail at the expense of justice * * *.") In determining whether consolidation is appropriate, the court must consider:

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 of the single-trial, multiple-trial alternatives.

Johnson, 899 F.2d at 1285 (internal quotations and citations omitted).

All eleven (11) of the above-captioned actions were recently filed, have not yet proceeded to discovery and allege similar unsanitary and hazardous conditions existing at the NCCC, and there will be minimal, if any, prejudice or confusion to the parties in consolidating these actions. Therefore, in the interests of judicial economy and efficiency, and to minimize the expense and burden on all parties in prosecuting and defending multiple lawsuits, the eleven (11) above-captioned actions are consolidated for all pretrial purposes and for trial, which will be bifurcated on the issue of liability and damages, with leave for any party to seek to sever the actions for the purpose of any trial on the issue of damages within ten (10) days following the close of discovery in this consolidated action. The actions will henceforth proceed under docket number 13-cv-1192 (the "lead case"), all papers filed in these actions shall henceforth bear only the lead case docket number, the caption of this consolidated action shall be amended in accordance with this Order and the actions assigned docket numbers other than the lead docket number shall be administratively closed with leave to reopen for the purpose of any trial on the issue of damages.

II. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, it ...


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