United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
KEITH BALL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause is before the Court on two motions to consolidate, one
 filed by Charles Blount, and one  filed by Daisy
Wilkerson. Blount, the plaintiff in Civil Action No.
3:17-cv-854-CWR-LRA, and Wilkerson, the plaintiff in Civil
Action No. 3:17-cv-853-LG-RHW, have moved to consolidate
their individual cases with this case, Civil Action No.
3:17-cv-757-DPJ-FKB. Having considered the motions,
responses, and rebuttals of the parties, the Court finds that
the motions to consolidate should be denied.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”)
filed this case on behalf of fifteen claimants (“EEOC
claimants”) who were former hourly employees of Johnson
Controls, Inc. (“JCI”) at its plant in Madison,
Mississippi. It alleges that in 2011, Faurecia Automotive
Seating, LLC., and Faurecia Madison Automotive Seating, Inc.,
(collectively “Faurecia”) announced that they
were acquiring JCI's Madison facility.  at 4.
Faurecia informed JCI's hourly employees that Faurecia
would consider all JCI Madison hourly employees for
employment. Id.;  at 4. The EEOC alleges that
Faurecia failed to hire the EEOC claimants because they were
disabled, regarded as disabled, had a record of a disability,
or because of their association with an individual who had a
disability, and as such violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  at 4. The
EEOC's suit names only the Faurecia entities as
defendants. See .
and Wilkerson are also former JCI Madison hourly employees
who were not hired by Faurecia after it purchased JCI
Madison. Like the EEOC, they are suing Faurecia for
violations of the ADA. See 3:17-cv-853-LG-RHW at
; 3:17-cv-854-CWR-LRA at . Unlike the EEOC, however,
Blount and Wilkerson have sued JCI. Id.
and Wilkerson argue that their cases should be consolidated
with this case. The EEOC does not oppose consolidation;
Faurecia and JCI both do. ; ; .
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the
court may consolidate multiple pending actions
“involving a common question of law or fact ... [and]
may make such orders concerning proceedings therein as may
tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
42(a). With broad discretion in determining whether to
consolidate actions, federal courts consider many factors,
(1) whether the actions are pending before the same court,
(2) whether common parties are involved in the cases, (3)
whether there are common questions of law and/or fact, (4)
whether there is risk of prejudice or confusion if the cases
are consolidated, and if so, is the risk outweighed by the
risk of inconsistent adjudications of factual and legal
issues if the cases are tried separately, (5) whether
consolidation will conserve judicial resources, (6) whether
consolidation will result in an unfair advantage, (7) whether
consolidation will reduce the time for resolving the cases,
and (8) whether consolidation will reduce the cost of trying
the cases separately.
In re Camp Arrowhead, Ltd., No. CIVA
SA-10-cv-170-XR, 2010 WL 841340, at *1 (W.D. Tex. Mar. 8,
2010); see also Crest Audio, Inc. v. QSC Audio Prod.,
Inc., No. 3:12-cv-755-CWR-FKB, 2016 WL 3249217, at *2
(S.D.Miss. Mar. 4, 2016).
these factors, the Court finds that Blount's case and
Wilkerson's case should not be consolidated with the
EEOC's case. When Blount and Wilkerson filed their
motions to consolidate, EEOC and Faurecia had already
conducted a significant amount of discovery, including
serving and responding to interrogatories, requests for
production of documents, and requests for admission.
See -, -46]. Since then, the EEOC and
Faurecia have noticed or taken twenty-nine depositions.
See -, -, . Further, the EEOC
and Faurecia have already designated experts. See
, . Consolidating the cases, and adding three
additional parties to the EEOC case, would cause another
round of written discovery and necessitate many, if not all,
of the 29 deponents being redeposed. In addition,
consolidation would cause another round of expert
designations, increase the number of experts, and expand
expert discovery. All of these things would expand the scope
and extend the time of discovery, increase the number and
issues of dispositive and expert-related motions, and delay
the trial of this case.
would also result in a significant risk of prejudice to JCI.
In the present posture of these cases, JCI is a defendant in
two, single-plaintiff cases. Blount and Wilkerson propose
that this Court drag JCI into a case with fifteen claimants
whose claims are being prosecuted by a federal agency, the
EEOC. Consolidation would cause a drastic increase in
JCI's cost of defense. Consolidation would also increase
litigation costs for Faurecia and the EEOC. Meanwhile, Blount
and Wilkerson would reap the benefit of the EEOC doing some
of their work for them, both in discovery and at trial, and
they would reap the benefit of a federal agency's
presence at trial as a party plaintiff, even though the EEOC
did not sue JCI and did not include Blount or Wilkerson as
EEOC claimants. Considering the impact of consolidation, the
Court finds that it would risk significant prejudice to JCI
and an unfair advantage to Blount and Wilkerson.
the cases share some common questions of law and fact,
consolidation would introduce entirely new questions of law
and fact into this case. For example, Blount and Wilkerson
assert an agency theory of liability against JCI.
See 3:17-cv-854-CWR-LRA,  at ¶ 29;
3:17-cv-853-LG-RHW,  at ¶ 29. The EEOC asserts no
such agency theory, and in fact, did not file suit against
JCI in this case. In its defense, Faurecia will likely assert
facts specific to Blount and Wilkerson as to why it did not
hire them, which would add new questions of fact and law in
this case. The introduction of new questions of fact and law
through adding Blount and Wilkerson as plaintiffs and JCI as
a defendant would increase the time and cost of discovery and
trial and create a risk of jury confusion, which would not
exist if the cases are not consolidated.
Court also considers whether the risks of prejudice and
confusion are “outweighed by the risk of inconsistent
adjudications of factual and legal issues if the cases are
tried separately.” The Court finds that they are not.
The jury in this case will not be deciding the facts as to
why Blount or Wilkerson were not hired. Likewise, legal
decisions will be based on the facts specific to Blount's
case and to Wilkerson's case, respectively, which are not
identical to all of the facts specific to the fifteen
separate EEOC claimants. The Court acknowledges that these
cases may share some common legal issues, but the risks of
confusion and prejudice to JCI outweigh any risks of
inconsistent adjudications on those legal issues. The
undersigned also notes that, to the extent any risk of
inconsistent adjudications exists, the risk could be removed
by transferring Blount's and Wilkerson's cases to the
district judge and magistrate judge assigned to this case.
Whether the cases will be so transferred is in the discretion
of the Chief District Judge.
addition, the Court finds that consolidation would not reduce
the time for resolving the cases or the cost of trying the
cases separately. In fact, consolidation would actually
increase the time necessary for resolving this case, since a
new defendant and new liability theories would be added, and
as mentioned above, consolidation would drastically increase
JCI's costs of trial. Although consolidation may conserve
some judicial resources, the Court could conserve judicial
resources by transferring these cases to the same magistrate
judge and district judge.
reasons stated above, the Court finds that Blount's case
and Wilkerson's case should not be consolidated with the
EEOC's case. Accordingly, the motion to consolidate 
filed by Blount ...