United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
L. ROBART United States District Judge
matter comes before the court on Plaintiff Nina French's
February 15, 2017, and February 23, 2017, letters to the
court (2/15/17 Letter (Dkt. # 35); 2/23/17 Letter (Dkt. #
36)),  and the Honorable Richard A. Jones's
February 24, 2017, transfer of a related case, French v.
Washington State Department of Health, et al., No.
C17-0210JLR, Dkt. # 5. For the reasons set forth below, the
court consolidates this matter with Case No. C17-0210JLR,
construes Ms. French's letters as moving for
reconsideration of the court's February 13, 2017, order
and judgment, and orders Defendant Washington State
Department of Health (“the DOH”) to respond to Ms.
French's motion for reconsideration.
BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS
case arises out of Ms. French's employment with divisions
of the DOH at various times between 2010 and 2014. (FAC (Dkt.
# 18) Ex. 2 at 1.) On June 4, 2015, Ms. French, who is
proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis
(“IFP”), filed her initial complaint against the
DOH. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 3); IFP Mot. (Dkt. # 1);
Order Granting IFP Status (Dkt. # 2).) Pursuant to Ms.
French's request, the court ordered the United States
marshal to serve the DOH within 30 days of July 8, 2016.
(7/8/16 Order (Dkt. // # 13) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)
(Upon an IFP plaintiff's request, “the officers of
the court shall issue and serve all process.”)).)
the DOH was served, Ms. French filed another action, which
the court consolidated with this matter. (10/4/16 Order (Dkt.
# 17).) Because Ms. French intended to amend her complaint
rather than file a new case, the court construed Ms.
French's filing as an amended complaint when it
consolidated the two cases. (Id.; FAC.)
October 31, 2016, the DOH filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings. (MJP (Dkt. # 23).) The court granted the DOH's
motion because it found that Ms. French had not met her
burden of establishing the court's subject matter
jurisdiction and that she failed to state a claim for relief
under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, or Washington law.
(See 1/25/17 Order at 7-8.) However, in light of Ms.
French's pro se status, the court granted Ms.
French leave to amend her complaint within 14 days of the
date of the court's order. (See Id. at 10.) In
granting leave to amend, the court directed Ms. French to
carefully consider the deficiencies that the court had
identified in Ms. French's complaint (id. at 8)
and stated that it would not entertain any further requests
from Ms. French for favorable treatment from the court
(id. at 9). Ms. French's deadline to amend her
complaint was February 8, 2017. (See Id. at 10.)
it appeared that Ms. French had failed to amend her complaint
by the deadline, on February 13, 2017, the court dismissed
her case with prejudice and entered judgment. (See
2/13/17 Order (Dkt. # 33); Judgment (Dkt. # 34).) Three days
later, on February 16, 2017, the court received a copy of Ms.
French's letter dated February 15, 2017. (See
2/15/17 Letter.) In the letter, Ms. French explains that she
attempted to amend her complaint on February 9, 2017, one day
after the deadline the court set for amendment, but she again
inadvertently opened a new case, which was pending before
another judge in this District. (See id.) After Ms.
French's letter was docketed in both matters, the
Honorable Richard A. Jones transferred Ms. French's newly
opened case- Case No. C17-0210-to the undersigned judge as
related to Ms. French's earlier case- Case No. C15-0859.
On February 23, 2017, Ms. French wrote a second letter to the
court in which she “petition[s] the court to
keep” Case No. C15-0859JLR “open.” (2/23/17
Letter at 1.)
court now addresses Ms. French's attempt to amend her
complaint, her inadvertent filing of a new matter, and her
February 15, 2017, and February 23, 2017, letters.
Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) permits courts to consolidate
actions if they “involve a common question of law or
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). This rule affords courts
“broad discretion” to consolidate cases pending
in the same district, either upon a party's motion or
sua sponte. In re Adams Apple, Inc., 829
F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1987). Here, the court determines
that it is appropriate to consolidate the two cases. The two
cases stem from Ms. French's employment with the DOH and
clearly “involve a common question of law or
fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a); (compare FAC,
with French, C17-0210JLR, Dkt. # 1
(“SAC”).) Principles of judicial economy
therefore support consolidation.
Ms. French is proceeding pro se, the court liberally
construes Ms. French's February 15, 2017, and February
23, 2017, letters as a motion for reconsideration of the
court's February 13, 2017, order dismissing her case with
prejudice and entry of judgment. (See 2/15/17
Letter; 2/23/17 Letter; 2/13/17 Order; Judgment.) Although
“[m]otions for reconsideration are disfavored, ”
the court may grant such motions if the moving party
demonstrates (1) “a showing of manifest error in the
prior ruling, ” or (2) “a showing of new facts or
legal authority which could not have been brought to the
[court's] attention earlier with reasonable
diligence.” Local Rules W.D. Wash. LCR 7(h)(1). As Ms.
French explains in her letter, she filed her amended
complaint on February 9, 2017,  and her “amended complaint
was given a new case number” because she was unsure
whether she could use her existing case number when filing
her new complaint. (2/15/17 Letter at 1; see also
2/23/2017 Letter at 1 (requesting that the court keep the
earlier-filed action “open”.) Accordingly, Ms.
French's letter appears to raise a new fact that she
could not have reasonably brought to the court's
attention earlier-that her intended amended complaint opened
a new case before a different judge and was not placed on the
docket in this matter prior to the court entering its order
of dismissal and judgment. (2/15/17 Letter at 1; see also
2/23/2017 Letter at 1.) The court is therefore considering
granting the motion to reconsider, vacating its February 13,
2017, order and judgment, and construing Ms. French's
complaint in Case No. 17-0210JLR as her second amended
complaint in this matter.
to Local Rule 7(h)(3), the court orders the DOH to respond to
Ms. French's motion for reconsideration. The DOH must
file its response no later than seven (7) days after the
entry of this order and shall limit its ...