Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hemingway v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

February 16, 2018



         This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, the Rules of this Court, and Chief Judge Varlan's Order of referral [Doc. 7]. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Consolidate [Doc. 5], filed on January 11, 2018. Defendant Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., (“Jacobs”) filed a response [Doc. 14] in opposition on January 30, 2018. For the following reasons, the Court will DENY Plaintiff's motion.

         I. Background

         On December 22, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Jacobs for personal injuries he alleges were sustained as a result of Plaintiff's workplace exposure to toxic coal fly ash at the Tennessee Valley Authority Superfund Cleanup Site at the Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant in Kingston, Tennessee. [Doc. 1]. Plaintiff submits that Jacobs failed to properly monitor the fly ash at the cleanup site, protect him from fly ash exposer, and disclose the toxic nature of fly ash.

         This Court entered a related case Order [Doc. 4] on January 5, 2018, finding that the instant matter is related to Adkisson, et al., v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., No. 3:13-CV-505, because “these cases arise out of the same transaction or occurrence and involve one or more of the same parties.” Consolidation, however, was not ordered. [Id.]. Adkisson is consolidated with other cases in certain respects. Adkisson, serving as the lead case, was completely consolidated with Thompson, et al., v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., 3:13-CV-666, and Cunningham, et al., v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc., 3:14-CV-20, on July 10, 2014. [Doc. 35 in Adkisson, 3:13-CV-505]. These cases were late consolidated with five more related cases for the limited purpose of discovery and motion practice. [Doc. 56 in Adkisson, 3:13-CV-505]. Finally, on January 30, 2017, a total of 10 case (“the Consolidated Cases”)[1] were consolidated for discovery, motion practice, and Phase I of a bifurcated trial. [Doc. 136 in Adkisson, No. 3:13-CV-505]. Presently, the Consolidated Cases are set for Phase I of trial on September 17, 2018.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), Plaintiff now moves the Court to consolidate the instant case with the Consolidated Cases.

         II. Positions of the Parties

         Plaintiff explains that he developed multiple myeloma on or around March 2017, as a result of working at the fly ash cleanup site, and that his condition “is strongly related to the blood cancers exhibited by a number of plaintiffs in the already consolidated actions.” [Doc. 6 at 3-4]. Although his claim did not accrue until several years after the inception of the Consolidated Cases and subsequent to the bifurcated trial plan, Plaintiff argues that the most efficient means of adjudicating his claim is through consolidation as this case and the Consolidated Cases present substantial overlap in addressing whether Jacobs owed a legal duty, whether Jacobs breached that duty, and whether Jacobs' breach is the general cause of the injuries alleged by all the plaintiffs.

         According to Plaintiff, denial of the instant motion would create “a significant risk of inconsistent adjudication of these common factual and legal issues” shared in the cases, and independent adjudication would further render “a substantial burden on the parties, witnesses, and available judicial resources.” [Id. at 4]. Moreover, Plaintiff submits that Jacobs and the consolidated plaintiffs would not be unduly prejudiced or burdened because the instant case is not expected to delay proceedings or Phase I of trial despite “some independent discovery deadlines” likely needed to be set. [Id. at 4].

         Jacobs opposes consolidation on the grounds that the cases are at vastly different stages, consolidation would unduly delay proceedings in the Consolidated Cases, and Jacobs would be unfairly prejudiced. Jacobs submits that because discovery has been completed, expert disclosure deadlines have expired with the exception of supplementation of existing reports, [2] and the dispositive motion deadline is two months away, Phase I of trial would likely be delayed again if Plaintiff is permitted to join at such a late juncture of the proceedings. Furthermore, Jacobs reasons that consolidating the instant case would essentially allow plaintiffs in the Consolidated Cases to reopen discovery, which they have attempted to do at no avail. Finally, citing to an earlier order by the District Court in the Consolidated Cases, Jacobs submits that the risk of inconsistent adjudication of common facts and legal issues is alleviated due to the judicial officers in the Consolidated Cases presiding over the instant matter.

         III. Analysis

         Federal 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)).

         In deciding whether to consolidate, a court should consider whether the specific risks of prejudice and possible confusion posed by consolidation are:

overborn 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. 1993) (quoting with approval Hendrix v. Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc., 776 F.2d 1492 (11th Cir. 1985)). Importantly, “[c]onsolidation is not justified or required simply because the actions include a common question of fact or law.” Hasman ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.