Court Denies Motion to Consolidate Two Unrelated Employment Discrimination Cases; “Discriminatory Conspiracy” Not Plausibly Alleged

In Mira v. Kingston, 15-cv-09989, 2016 WL 5867448 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 3, 2016), the court considered, and denied, plaintiff’s motion to consolidate two employment discrimination actions.

The court’s decision turned on the application of Rule 42(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides: “If 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.”

The court explained:

The threshold question is whether there are any legal or factual questions in common between these two actions. Plaintiff has failed to plausibly demonstrate a legal or factual connection between these cases, which allege employment discrimination at two different companies by different individuals over different time periods. Plaintiff does not allege any business relationship between the SPGI Defendants and the Argus Defendants, and acknowledges that they are, in fact, competitors. Although her letters allege that Plaintiff would demonstrate the existence of a discriminatory “conspiracy” between the SPGI Defendants and the Argus Defendants, no such conspiracy is plausibly alleged in either case’s complaint. The fact that Plaintiff alleges that the discriminatory conduct at each location was of a similar type does not constitute a common factual question.
Even if this Court were convinced that some common question of fact or law existed between these two cases, the benefits of consolidation in terms of convenience and judicial economy would be minimal, and the drawbacks significant. Plaintiff’s two complaints allege that different discriminatory actions were taken against her while she was an employee at SPGI from 2011 to 2013 and while she was an employee at Argus Media from 2013 to 2014. At no point does Plaintiff allege that defendants from one action were involved in the discriminatory conduct alleged in the other action. Because the underlying actions are disconnected in terms of time, place, and parties, consolidation would provide few, if any, benefits to expediting pretrial discovery, examinations of records, the filing of motions, or conducting a trial. More likely, consolidation would prejudice defendants in both actions by delay in the event one action is ready to proceed more quickly than the other. Lastly, consolidation would risk unnecessary confusion by the jury of the claims against the SPGI Defendants with those against the Argus Defendants, prejudicing both sets of parties.
(Emphasis added.)
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