United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
PAUL W. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
DARLENE M. WALKER, Attorney at Law, 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.
83] of the Chief District Judge.
before the Court is a Motion for Consolidation of Separate
Trials [Doc. 79], filed on March 6, 2017. The Defendants have
responded [Docs. 80, 82, 84] in opposition, and the Plaintiff
has filed a Reply [Doc. 85]. The Motion is now ripe for
adjudication. Accordingly, for the reasons stated below, the
Court DENIES the Plaintiff's Motion [Doc. 79].
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Plaintiff requests that the Court consolidate the instant
action (“Walker”) with Lewis v.
Hawkins, et al., No. 3:16-cv-315
(“Hawkins”). 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 have objected [Docs. 80, 82, 84] to the
Plaintiff's Motion. Defendant Kris Lewallen argues [Doc.
80] that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42,
consolidation is not appropriate. Defendant Lewallen asserts
that Walker arises from an August 2014 drug sting,
while Hawkins arises from a July 2015 traffic stop.
Defendant Lewallen argues that the lawsuits do not involve
the same defendants and that there is no overlap between the
witnesses in the cases. Further, Defendant Lewallen contends
that the legal issues are similarly unrelated. Defendant
Lewallen explains 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, Defendant Lewallen asserts that
the Defendants have filed motions to dismiss in
Walker based on the expiration of the statute of
Walker filed a Response [Doc. 82] also objecting to the
Motion. Defendant Walker argues that there are no common
questions of law or fact in the lawsuits. Further, Defendant
Walker asserts that the procedural posture of the cases are
different and not ripe for consolidation. Further, Defendant
Walker states that consolidation would be prejudicial because
at the trial, different witnesses would testify about unalike
events to answer dissimilar questions of law. Defendant
Walker asserts that consolidation would confuse the jury.
Finally, Defendant Walker submits that the timing of
consolidation is premature. Defendants Blake Murphy and Bill
Miller have joined [Doc. 84] Defendant Walker's Response.
Plaintiff filed a Reply [Doc. 85] arguing that both actions
involve civil rights violations arising out of the same set
of common questions of law and fact. The Plaintiff states
that he has attempted to file an amended Complaint in
Walker to allege wrongdoing by a number of
individuals, including Keith Hawkins and Scott County,
Tennessee. The Plaintiff states that “both cases
involve civil rights violations based on a complex web of
alleged wrongdoing arising out the same set of law and
facts.” [Doc. 85 at 4]. Specifically, the Plaintiff
emphasizes that Defendant Hawkins pulled the Plaintiff over
to search for drugs and that “not looking at a police
officer, speeding by three miles per hour, suspicion,
conjecture, or speculation, [or] the fact that Plaintiff is a
convicted drug dealer was not sufficient probable cause to
pull the vehicle over and then search the vehicle.”
[Doc. 85 at 5]. The Plaintiff also argues that there was
fraud upon the court by an officer of the court and that he
has stated a claim for malicious prosecution.
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. Further, the
Plaintiff asserts 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 Hawkins.
respect to whether there is a common question of law, the
Court agrees with Defendant Walker. While both actions appear
to allege violations of similar laws, 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. Further, while the Plaintiff
asserts that he has filed an ...