United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
J. Schwab District Judge
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PATRICIA L. DODGE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
S. Webb is a defendant in the above-captioned
civil rights actions commenced by Plaintiff Blaine Koby
Gholson. Pending before the Court is her Motion to
Consolidate. (ECF No. 44 in 2:18-cv-1451). For the reasons
that follow, the Court will grant her Motion in part and deny
it in part. Specifically, the Court will consolidate these
two actions solely for purposes of discovery and other
pretrial purposes, but will deny the Motion to the extent
that Ms. Webb seeks an order from the Court that merges the
two civil actions into a single case at 2:18-cv-1280 and
pending before the Court is Ms. Webb's Motion for
Extension of Time to Respond to Plaintiff's Complaint.
(ECF No. 57 in 2:18-cv-1280). The Court grants her motion and
her responsive pleadings to the Complaints in civil actions
2:18-cv-1280 and 2:18-cv-1451 are now due by November 25,
is a Pennsylvania prisoner who was incarcerated at the State
Correctional Institution (“SCI”) Pine Grove from
around March 2018 to late April 2019. In the first civil
rights action he filed with this Court, at 2:18-cv-1280, he
names as defendants ten individuals, eight of whom are
employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
(“DOC”). The remaining two defendants-Ms. Webb
and Dr. Bryan Byers-are medical-care providers. The events in
question in the Complaint are alleged to have occurred from
March through July of 2018 at SCI Pine Grove. Plaintiff
claims that his prison conditions were inadequate when he was
in a psychiatric observation cell, and that one or more of
the defendants unjustly seized his property, refused him
notary services and use of the telephone, tampered with his
legal mail, threatened to poison his food, and were
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. Underlying
each of his claims is his allegation that Defendants violated
his rights because they were engaged in a plot to kill him
for purposes of collecting the profits on a fraudulent life
insurance policy taken out in his name. The DOC Defendants
have filed their Answer to the Complaint. Prior to
today's order, Ms. Webb's responsive pleading was due
on October 28, 2019. Pursuant to this Order, it is now due on
November 25, 2019, which is the same date that Dr. Byers'
responsive pleading is due.
second civil rights action is at civil action 2:18-cv-1451.
The events in question in that case, which are also alleged
to have occurred at SCI Pine Grove, occurred in May through
July of 2018. Plaintiff claims that one or more of the
defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical
needs, assaulted him, and unjustly seized his property. He
named seven defendants, all of whom he alleges are part of
the conspiracy to kill him for purposes of collecting the
profits on the fraudulent life insurance policy. Ms. Webb is
one of the defendants, and the other six defendants are
individuals employed by the DOC. Two of those DOC Defendants
(Captain Sheeder and Superintendent Estock) are, like Ms.
Webb, also defendants in 2:18-cv-1280. The DOC Defendants
have filed their Answer, and Ms. Webb's responsive
pleading, which was due on October 28, 2019, will now be due
on November 25, 2019.
third civil rights action is at 2:18-cv-1632. The two
defendants in that action are psychologists who work for the
DOC at SCI Pine Grove, and the events in question in that
case are alleged to have occurred in July 2018. Plaintiff
claims that both defendants disregarded prison policy and
ignored his request to assist him in filing a criminal
complaint because they are part of the conspiracy to kill him
to collect on the profits of the fraudulent life insurance
policy. The Defendants have filed their Answer and discovery
is complete. Plaintiff's pretrial narrative is due on
November 21, 2019 and Defendants' motion for summary
judgment or pretrial narrative is due by December 23, 2019.
August 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to consolidate his
three civil rights actions. The DOC Defendants notified the
Court that they did not oppose his request. However, because
at that time service had not yet been effectuated upon Ms.
Webb and Dr. Byers in 2:18-cv-1280 and upon Ms. Webb in
2:18-cv-1451, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion without
prejudice to refile it after all defendants were served in
Ms. Webb was served and she filed the instant Motion to
Consolidate 2:18-cv-1280 and 2:18-cv-1451, the two cases in
which she is a defendant. Although Plaintiff previously
requested that his civil actions be consolidated, he notified
the Court that he now opposes Ms. Webb's Motion. (ECF No.
53 in 2:18-cv-1451). However, Plaintiff's opposition is
premised upon his incorrect assertion that service has not
been effectuated upon Dr. Byers in 2:18-cv-1280 and that, as
a result, consolidation would unduly delay the progression of
2:18-cv-1451. As set forth above, Dr. Byers has been served
and his responsive pleading to the Complaint in 2:18-cv-1280
is due on November 25, 2019. Accordingly, the litigation of
Plaintiff's actions at 2:18-cv-1280 and 2:18-cv-1451 are
at the same points procedurally.
Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) provides that “[i]f
actions before the court involve a common question of law or
fact, the court may: (1) join for hearing or trial any or all
matters at issue in the actions; (2) consolidate the actions;
or (3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or
delay.” Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 42(a). “Common
questions of law and fact do not have to predominate. All
that is required is that the district court find they exist
and that consolidation will prove beneficial.” 8
Moore's Federal Practice-Civil § 42.10[a], Lexis
(database updated Sept. 2019). If there is a common question
of law or fact, “district courts enjoy substantial
discretion in deciding whether and to what extent to
consolidate cases.” Hall v. Hall, 138 S.Ct.
1118, 1131 (2018); see, e.g., A.S. ex rel. Miller v.
SmithKline Beechham Corp, 769 F.3d 204, 212 (3d Cir.
exercising its discretion, a district court should consider
whether it is fair to the parties to consolidate, and whether
consolidation will promote efficiency, conserve resources,
and avoid delay, duplication of effort, and inconsistent
results. 8 Moore's Federal Practice-Civil §
42.10; see, e.g., Beloit v. Killion & Sons Well
Serv. Inc., No. 16-362, 2016 WL 4539624, *2 (W.D. Pa.
Aug. 31, 2016) (Bissoon, J.). Cases within which there are
like claims, overlapping parties or discovery, and/or which
are in the same stage of litigation may be amenable to
consolidation. Id., § 42.10.
court's “[d]iscretion extends to the very form that
consolidation takes.” Id., § 42.10[a].
For example, “[c]onsolidation may be expressly limited
to pretrial proceedings, including pleadings and
discovery.” Id. “The Supreme Court has
held that consolidation does not merge the consolidated suits
into one lawsuit, change the rights of the parties, or make
those who were parties in one suit parties in another.”
Id., § 42.13, citing Hall, 138
S.Ct. at 1125 (“From the outset, we understood
consolidation not as completely merging the constituent cases
into one, but instead as enabling more efficient case