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Brandt v. Sebelius

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

May 29, 2014

MOST REVEREND LAWRENCE E. BRANDT, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, as Trustee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, a Charitable Trust, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, In Her Official Capacity as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ET AL., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

Presently before this Court is Defendants' Motion for Reassignment which contends that because the instant case allegedly is not related to case numbers 13cv0930 ( Pohl v. United States Dep't. of Health & Human Svcs., ) (" Pohl ") and 13cv1459 ( Zubik v. Sebelius, ) (" Zubik "), both of which were assigned to the undersigned, this case should be randomly assigned, or in the alternative, re-assigned to Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti.[1] Doc. no. 11, p. 3. Plaintiffs filed a Response to the Motion for Reassignment (doc. no. 12) and thus, the matter is ripe for adjudication. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the Motion for Reassignment.

I. DISCUSSION

"Like some other courts, this Court has adopted a procedure to assign related cases to the same judge, who has familiarity with them...." Coulter v. Studeny, CIV.A. 12-0338, 2012 WL 2829948, *2 (W.D. Pa. July 10, 2012). The relevant Local Rule of Civil Procedure for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania governing the assignment of newly filed cases reads, in pertinent part, as follows:

C. Assignment of Civil Actions. Each civil action shall be assigned to a Judge who shall have charge of the case. The assignment shall be made by the Clerk of Court from a non-sequential list of all Judges arranged in each of the various categories. Sequences of Judges' names within each category shall be kept secret and no person shall directly or indirectly ascertain or divulge or attempt to ascertain or divulge the name of the Judge to whom any case may be assigned before the assignment is made by the Clerk of Court.
D. Related Actions. At the time of filing any civil or criminal action or entry of appearance or filing of the pleading or motion of any nature by defense counsel, as the case may be, counsel shall indicate on an appropriate form whether the action is related to any other pending or previously terminated actions in this Court. Relatedness shall be determined as follows:
* * *
2. [C]ivil actions are deemed related when an action filed relates to property included in another action, or involves the same issue of fact, or it grows out of the same transaction as another action, or involves the validity or infringement of a patent involved in another action;...
* * *
E. Assignment of Related Actions.
1. If the fact of relatedness is indicated on the appropriate form at time of filing, the Clerk of Court shall assign the case to the same Judge to whom the lower numbered related case is assigned.
* * *

LCvR 40.

As noted above, when Plaintiffs filed this case, they marked it as being "related to" case numbers 13cv0930, Pohl, and 13cv1459, Zubik, both of which were previously assigned to the ...


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