United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
PAUL W. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
KEITH HAWKINS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
363(c), the Rules of this Court, and the referral Order [Doc.
43] of the Chief District Judge.
before the Court is a Motion for Consolidation of Separate
Trials [Doc. 41], filed on March 6, 2017. The Defendants have
responded [Doc.42] in opposition, and the Plaintiff has filed
a Reply [Doc. 47]. The Motion is now ripe for adjudication.
Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES
the Plaintiff's Motion [Doc. 41].
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Plaintiff requests that the Court consolidate the instant
action (“Hawkins”) with Lewis v.
Walker, et al., No. 3:16-cv-486
(“Walker”). The Plaintiff states that
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), the cases
are “interwoven” and “interconnected”
in such a way that they cannot be separated for a full and
fair determination of the issues presented for review. The
Plaintiff asserts that both cases involve common questions of
law and fact and that consolidation of these cases for trial
would avoid unnecessary costs or delay. Further, the
Plaintiff asserts that consolidation will be “conducive
to expedition and economy” and that neither party will
suffer prejudice if these cases are consolidated for trial.
[Doc. 79 at 2].
Defendants filed a Response [Doc. 42] objecting to the
Motion. The Defendants argue that the Plaintiff fails to
offer any reasoning in support of his contention and that a
comparison of the Complaints makes clear that the two actions
do not share common factual or legal issues. The Defendants
assert that Walker arises from an August 2014 drug
sting, while Hawkins arises from a July 2015 traffic
stop. Further, the Defendants assert that they are not named
in the Walker litigation. The Defendants explain
that in Walker, the Plaintiff has alleged a false
arrest claim, but in Hawkins, the Plaintiff alleges
an unreasonable search and seizure related to a traffic stop.
Finally, the Defendants assert that the Defendants in
Walker have filed motions to dismiss that are
Plaintiff filed a Reply [Doc. 47] asserting that the
Hawkins matter arises from a July 24, 2015 traffic
stop, without apparent probable cause and that the Court will
determine whether the police officer had probable cause to
stop the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff asserts that Defendant
Hawkins was involved in the prior searches of his residence
and that “[i]n other words, Plaintiff's case did
not end on September 2, 2014, when he entered his plea of
guilty.” [Doc. 47 at 3]. The Plaintiff explains that
after his guilty plea, officers continued to harass and
intimidate him. Further, the Plaintiff asserts that the
failure to consolidate the cases would be prejudicial to him
because witnesses would testify about “like events to
answer similar questions of law.” [Doc. 47 at 3].
Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a)(2) states that a court may
consolidate actions that “involve a common question of
law or fact.” A court may exercise its
“discretion to consolidate actions only if it first
determines that there is a common question of law or
fact.” WCM Industries, Inc. v IPS Corp., No.
2:13-cv-02019, 2013 WL 3349182, * 2 (W.D. Tenn. July 2,
2013). “The party moving for consolidation bears the
burden of demonstrating the commonality of law, facts or both
in cases sought to be combined, and the court must examine
the special underlying facts with close attention before
ordering a consolidation.” Id. (quoting
Banacki v. OneWest Bank, FSB, 276 F.R.D. 567, 571
(E.D. Mich. 2011)) (citations and quotation marks omitted).
deciding whether to consolidate, a court should consider
whether the specific risks of prejudice and possible
confusion posed by consolidation are overborne “by the
risk of inconsistent adjudications of common factual and
legal issues, the burden on parties, witnesses and available
judicial resources posed by multiple lawsuits, the length of
time required to conclude multiple suits as against a single
one, and the relative expense to all concerned of the
single-trial, multiple-trial alternatives.”
Cantrell v. GAF Corp., 999 F.2d 1007, 1011 (6th Cir.
present matter, the Court finds that consolidation is not
appropriate. In Hawkins, the Plaintiff brings his
Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This
case arises from a traffic stop on July 24, 2015. The
Plaintiff alleges that there was no probable cause for the
stop and that Officer Hawkins discriminated against him by
making him stand on one leg without his crutches. The Amended
Complaint alleges that Officer Hawkins knowingly, willfully,
deliberately, and maliciously subjected the Plaintiff to
physical, mental, and emotional stress. Further, the Amended
Complaint states that the warrant for Plaintiff's arrest
was not for robbery, but instead, a probation violation that
respect to Walker, the Plaintiff alleges that he was
deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process
of law when the Defendants illegally obtained confidential,
attorney/client privileged information and used such
information to arrest, prosecute and convict him. Further,
the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants committed tortious
act of fraud when they fabricated the warrant for
Plaintiff's arrest, prosecution, and conviction. It
appears that the Plaintiff's allegations stem from his
arrest on April 19, 2014, when he was charged for selling a
Schedule II narcotic, which was based upon information
received from a confidential informant, and his arrest on
August 4, 2014, when he was charged with coercion and two
counts of selling Schedule II narcotics.
respect to the instant Motion, the Plaintiff asserts that
these cases are so “interwoven” and
“interconnected” that they cannot be separated.
However, he provides little explanation as to how the cases
are so “interwoven” or
“interconnected.” The Plaintiff asserts that
Defendant Hawkins pulled the Plaintiff over in order to
search for drugs in Plaintiff's vehicle because he
(Plaintiff) is a convicted drug dealer. The Plaintiff argues
that the traffic stop shows that his case did not end in 2014
because he continued to be harassed by law enforcement. The
Court finds that such allegations are not sufficient to
consolidate the two cases. Instead, it appears to the Court
that some of the facts as alleged in Walker may only
provide some background information for the alleged facts in
respect to whether there is a common question of law, in
Hawkins, the Court will review whether a police
officer unfairly stopped the Plaintiff, and in
Walker, the Court will review the conduct of private
attorneys, prosecutors, and law enforcement in terms of a
false arrest, fraudulent court proceedings, and corruption of
witnesses. The Court finds that because the cases are too
dissimilar, consolidation would only confuse the jury.