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L.O. v. Stevenson

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

November 26, 2019

L.O., a minor, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID T. STEVENSON, former staff worker, LANCASTER COUNTY, a governmental unit, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          PERKIN, HENRY S., M. J.

         Before this Court is a Motion to Consolidate (ECF No. 77) filed by Plaintiff, L.O. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks to consolidate for trial this action with four other related cases pending before this Court. The five cases were consolidated for discovery on July 9, 2019 (ECF No. 74). For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND.

         A. L.O. v. Stevenson, et al. - Civil Action No. 18-0357

         L.O. alleges various overt sexual comments and actions from October 2016 through April 2017 by Defendant Stevenson, a fifty-four year old former employee of the Lancaster County Youth Intervention Center (“LCYIC”), toward her and other minor females while they were sheltered residents at LCYIC. L.O. was a minor in Lancaster County custody as a shelter resident at LCYIC from October 2016 through April 2017 and again from June through July 2017. She also alleges unwanted sexual touching and sexual assault by Stevenson at LCYIC in June 2017 and July 2017.

         B. The Related Cases

         The other four related cases are J.G.M. v. Stevenson, et al., Civ. A. No. 18-5026; J.M.M. v. Stevenson, et al., Civ. A. No. 19-802; Q.M. v. Stevenson, et al., Civ. A. No. 18-4986; K.G. v. Stevenson, et al., Civ. A. No. 18-4985. J.G.M. was a minor in detention at LCYIC from May to November 2016 and alleges Defendant Stevenson committed various sexual acts and assaults on her from September through November of 2016. K.G. was a minor in Lancaster County custody as a shelter resident at LCYIC from February 2017 through July 2017. She alleges sexual comments and staring by Defendant Stevenson throughout her time at LCYIC which culminated in unwanted touching by Stevenson in an office in June 2017. J.M.M. was a minor in Lancaster County custody as a shelter resident at LCYIC from May through July 2017. She alleges a pattern of sexually harassing behavior by Defendant Stevenson from the time she arrived at LCYIC which escalated to him physically forcing her into a closet in June of 2017 and sexually and physically assaulting her without her consent. Q.M. was a minor in Lancaster County custody as a shelter resident at LCYIC from May through July 2017 and alleges that Defendant Stevenson sexually touched himself and masturbated in her presence, stared at her and uttered sexual comments and innuendo while she resided there and physically touched and assaulted her in a sexual and non-sexual manner.

         C. Motion to Consolidate

         On August 27, 2019, L.O. filed a Motion to Consolidate the actions. The County Defendants (all Defendants other than Stevenson) oppose this Motion. The Motion is fully briefed and is ripe for review.

         D. Jurisdiction

         Subject matter jurisdiction in this case is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Because Plaintiff's state law claims against Defendant Stevenson form part of the same case or controversy, subject matter jurisdiction over those claims is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).

         This case was originally assigned to the Honorable Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., and the parties consented to the exercise of jurisdiction by a Magistrate Judge on March 14, 2019 (ECF No. 41). Judge Leeson entered a March 15, 2019 Order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 636 (c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 referring this case to the undersigned for resolution. (ECF No. 42).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42 provides that a court may consolidate actions arising out of a common question of law or fact. FED.R.CIV.P. 42(a). To facilitate the administration of justice, district courts are afforded broad power to consolidate actions, whether on motion of a party or sua sponte. Ellerman Lines, Ltd. v. Alt. & Gulf Stevedores, Inc., 339 F.2d 673, 675 (3d Cir. 1964). In considering consolidation, “the court must balance the savings of time and effort gained through consolidation against the prejudice, inconvenience, or expense that it might cause.” Demchak Partners Ltd. P'ship v. Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC, No. 13-2289, 2014 WL 4955259, at *10 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 30, 2014). “A court may deny a motion to consolidate if the common issue is not a ...


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