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Terwilleger v. Grays Harbor County

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

May 14, 2019

BRIAN TERWILLEGER, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY, Defendant.

          ORDER CONSOLIDATING CASES AND DENYING MOTION TO AMEND AND REMAND

          J. Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The District Court has referred this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights action to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) and local Magistrate Judge Rules MJR1, MJR3, and MJR4. See Dkt. 9.[1] This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to consolidate (Dkt. 13) and plaintiff's motion to amend his complaint to remove federal claims and to remand the matter to state court (Dkt. 10). Because plaintiff's four cases pending before the Court and against defendant Grays Harbor County present common questions of law and fact and because consolidation would avoid duplication of effort, the Court grants the request to consolidate and orders that plaintiff file a consolidated amended complaint. Because plaintiff must file a consolidated amended complaint, the Court denies his motion to amend and remand this matter as moot.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action in state court. See Dkt. 1-1. He alleged that defendant's failure to provide him with any form of outdoor exercise for more than nine weeks during his incarceration that began in September 2016 constituted cruel and unusual punishment and negligence and violated due process and the Washington State Constitution's cruel punishment clause. See Dkt. 1-1. After defendant removed the matter to federal court, plaintiff requested that he be allowed to amend his complaint to remove all federal claims and that this Court remand the matter to state court. See Dkt. 10.

         Plaintiff also filed three other actions in state court regarding the conditions of his confinement in Grays Harbor County Jail: a complaint alleging that defendant committed contempt of court by failing to timely provide a competency evaluation (see Dkt. 1-1, 3:19-cv-05216-RBL-JRC), a complaint alleging that defendant allowed plaintiff to be burned by scalding hot shower water in November 2016, constituting negligence, cruel and unusual punishment, and violations of due process and the state cruel punishment clause (see Dkt. 1-1, 3:19-cv-05218-RBL-JRC), and a complaint alleging that defendant failed to provide access to a shower with handrails during plaintiff's confinement, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), due process, and the state cruel punishment clause and constituting negligence and cruel and unusual punishment. See Dkt. 1-1, 3:19-cv-05219-RBL-JRC. Defendants removed each case to federal court and now request that the Court consolidate the cases. See Dkt. 13.

         DISCUSSION

         “If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may . . . consolidate the actions[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(2). Under Rule 42, the Court has broad discretion regarding whether to consolidate cases. Pierce v. Cty. of Orange, 526 F.3d 1190, 1203 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court must “weigh[] the saving of time and effort consolidation would produce against any inconvenience, delay, or expense that it would cause.” Huene v. United States, 743 F.2d 703, 704 (9th Cir. 1984).

         Here, each of plaintiff's cases involves identical parties and events that occurred during the same period of incarceration. Most of these cases also involve the same substantive legal issues-whether certain allegations amount to negligence, cruel and unusual punishment, due process violations, and cruel punishment under the Washington State Constitution. In addition to these common legal and factual questions presented, consolidation of these matters would avoid duplicating time and effort across four cases. Consolidation will also ensure speedy and consistent resolution of these matters.

         Plaintiff opposes consolidation on the basis that consolidation is premature and that the cases involve different legal issues. See Dkt. 18, at 1. Regarding timeliness, consolidation at this early stage is not “premature” but is preferable to consolidating at a later stage, as it will serve to avoid duplicative motions practice and discovery. Regarding the legal issues, although plaintiff correctly points out that two of his cases involve unique claims-failure to timely provide a competency evaluation and failure to provide a reasonable accommodation under the ADA-Rule 42 requires simply “a common question of law or fact” and not that common legal and factual questions predominate. See 8 Moore's Federal Practice § 42.10(2)(a), quoted in Nelson v. Paulson, CO8-1034-JCC, 2008 WL 11347440, at *1 (W.D. Wash.. Sept. 25, 2008).

         Therefore, the Court orders that these cases be consolidated and that plaintiff file a consolidated amended complaint. Because plaintiff must file a consolidated amended complaint, his motion to amend his complaint in this matter and to remand the matter to state court is denied as moot. Plaintiff's consolidated amended complaint will act as a complete replacement for the original complaints and should contain any claims from these four consolidated cases that plaintiff wishes to bring in federal court. The Court also denies without prejudice all remaining pending motions in Cause Nos. 19-cv-5216-RBL-JRC, 19-cv-5218-RBL-JRC, and 19-cv-5219-RBL-JRC. The parties may, if necessary, refile their motions after plaintiff has filed his consolidated amended complaint, containing all of his claims.

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons discussed above, it is hereby ORDERED-

         (1) Defendant's motion to consolidate (Dkt. 13) is GRANTED;

         (2) This action, No. 19-cv-5215-RBL-JRC, shall remain the lead case and is hereby consolidated with Nos. 19-cv-5216-RBL-JRC, 19-cv-5218-RBL-JRC, and ...


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