IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
March 15, 2012
K. OLIVER, PLAINTIFF,
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Seeborg United States District Judge
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO RELATE CASES, WITHOUT PREJUDICE
United States District Court For the Northern District of California
Plaintiff has filed a motion in this action seeking to have Zody v. Microsoft, C 12-0942 YGR 17 related hereto and reassigned to the undersigned. Both this case and Zody were originally filed in 18 state court, and were removed here on February 24, 2012. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 3-12(b), a 19 motion to relate is to be filed in the "earliest filed case," and, if granted, results in reassignment of 20 the later-filed case to the judge presiding over the older case. Plaintiff recognizes that in this 21 instance, Zody bears the lower case number, reflecting that it was removed to this court first. 22
Plaintiff contends that this action nevertheless qualifies as the "earliest filed," because it was filed in 23 state court two days before Zody was filed in that court. The two removal notices were presented to 24 the Clerk's Office in this court at essentially the same time, and it was apparently mere 25 happenstance that this action was on top, and processed first. 26
Construing the term "earliest filed case" in Rule 3-12(b) as referring to filing dates in other 27 courts would in at least some instances undermine the purposes served by the rule. For example, if 28 a particular judge became familiar with a case that had been pending in this court for some time, it would make no sense to reassign it to another judge who happened to draw a newly-removed action 2 that had been filed in state court on some date prior to the filing or removal of the lower numbered 3 case. While the present situation does not present a similar concern given that this action and Zody 4 are both new to this court, it would not be appropriate to assign different meanings to the phrase 5 "earliest filed case" depending on the particular circumstances. Additionally, under the random 6 assignment system, a defendant removing multiple cases cannot deliberately seek a strategic 7 advantage by selecting the order in which to present notices of removal for filing. 8
Accordingly, Zody is the "earliest filed case" within the meaning of Rule 3-12(b), and the 9 motion to relate it to this action must be denied. This ruling is without prejudice to the filing of a 10 motion in Zody to have this case related thereto. The question of whether the two actions qualify as "related cases" under the rule had not been considered or decided.
IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 15
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