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Arciaga v. Barrett Business Services, Inc.

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

February 25, 2015

MITCHELL ARCIAGA, JOSEPH MASSELI, and VIMAL MATHIMARAN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiffs,
v.
BARRETT BUSINESS SERVICES, INC., MICHAEL L. ELICH, and JAMES D. MILLER, Defendants. CHRISTOPHER P. CARNES, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BARRETT BUSINESS SERVICES, INC., MICHAEL L. ELICH, and JAMES D. MILLER, Defendants. SHIVA STEIN, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BARRETT BUSINESS SERVICES, INC., MICHAEL L. ELICH, and JAMES D. MILLER, Defendants.

ORDER

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs Mitchell Arciaga, Joseph Masseli, and Vimal Mathimaran’s (“Barrett Investor Group”) motion for consolidation of related actions, for appointment as lead plaintiff and for approval and selection of lead and liaison counsel (Dkt. 17) and Painters & Allied Trades District Council No. 35 Pension and Annuity Funds’ (“Painters Funds”) motion for consolidation of related actions, for appointment as lead plaintiff and for approval and selection of lead and liaison counsel (Dkt. 19). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the Barrett Investor Group’s motion and grants the Painters Funds’ motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On November 11, 2014, the Barrett Investor Group filed a class action complaint on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated against Defendants Barrett Business Services, Inc. (“Barrett Business”), Michael L. Elich, and James D. Miller (“Defendants”). Dkt. 1. The Barrett Investor Group asserts two claims for violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”). Id.

On November 13, 2014, Plaintiff Christopher P. Carnes filed a complaint on behalf of himself and others similarly situated against Defendants asserting the same violations of the Exchange Act. Cause No. C14-5903BHS, Dkt. 1.

On November 17, 2014, Plaintiff Shiva Stein filed a complaint on behalf of herself and others similarly situated against Defendants asserting the same violations of the Exchange Act. Cause No. C14-5912BHS, Dkt. 1.

On January 5, 2015, the Barrett Investor Group, Tulsa Municipal Employees’ Retirement Plan (“Tulsa Plan”), an interested party, Bakers Local No. 433 Pension Fund (“Bakers Fund”), an interested party, and Painters Funds, an interested party, all filed motions for consolidation of related actions, for appointment as lead plaintiff and for approval and selection of lead and liaison counsel. Dkts. 11, 13, 17, & 19. On January 16, 2015, the Tulsa Plan withdrew its motion (Dkt. 41), the Bakers Fund withdrew its motion and stated its support for the Painters Funds to be appointed lead plaintiff (Dkt. 43), and Defendants responded to the motions (Dkt. 42). On January 20, 2015, the Barrett Investor Group and the Painters Funds responded. Dkts. 44 & 46. On January 23, 2015, the Barrett Investor Group and the Painters Funds filed replies. Dkts. 48 & 50.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The alleged facts in this case are fairly straightforward. The Barrett Investor Group as well as the interested parties all invested in the Barrett Business. The Barrett Investor Group and the interested parties alleged that Defendants made false statements, misleading statements, or material omissions that resulted in the decline of the company’s stock value, injuring all investors. This suit followed, and the investors now dispute which investment group should lead the class action litigation.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Consolidation

“If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may: . . . (2) consolidate the actions . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a).

Here, consolidation of the cases is appropriate. No party has opposed consolidation for pretrial proceedings, but Defendants oppose consolidation for trial at this time. Dkt. 42 at 2. This partial objection is noted, and the issue of whether the cases will proceed to trial separately will be considered at a later date. With regard to the merits of the cases, all three cases involve common factual and legal questions under the Exchange Act, including whether Defendants made false statements and omissions and whether those actions caused the stock price to drop as alleged. Consolidation of these actions will promote efficiency, ...


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