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CSI Electrical Contractors Inc. v. Zimmer America Corporation

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 22, 2013

CSI ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS INC
v.
ZIMMER AMERICA CORPORATION, ET AL. CARBONLITE INDUSTRIES, LLC
v.
BEZNER ANALGEN UNDMASCHINEBAU GMPH ET AL

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (In Chambers:) PLAINTIFF CSI ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS'S MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE CASES (filed May 3, 2013) [No. 2:12-CV-10876 Dkt. No. 30; No. 2:12-CV-01757, Dkt. No. 33]

I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of June 3, 2013, is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.

On January 4, 2012, CSI Electrical Contracts, Inc. ("CSI") filed suit against Carbonlite Industries, LLC ("Carbonlite"), Bezner Analgen Und Maschinebau GmbH ("Bezner"), and Zimmer America Corporation ("Zimmer"), and Columbia Business Center LLC ("Columbia") in the Los Angeles Superior Court. In the operative first amended state court complaint, CSI asserts a single cause of action for unjust enrichment against Carbonlite only, related to extra work that CSI allegedly performed but for which it did not receive compensation.

On March 1, 2012, Carbonlite filed suit against Bezner, Bezner America LLC, Zimmer, and B and B America LLC ("B and B") in this Court. Dkt. No. 1 ("Carbonlite Federal Action"). On May 22, 2012, Carbonlite filed its first amended complaint ("Carbonlite FAC") naming only defendant Bezner and asserting claims for (1) breach of contract and (2) disgorgement of compensation pursuant to California Business & Professions Code § 7031(b). On June 12, 2012, Bezner filed a counterclaim against Carbonlite, asserting claims for (1) breach of contract, (2) quantum meruit, and (3) unjust enrichment. On March 21, 2013, the Court issued an amended scheduling order, setting a discovery cut-off date of October 1, 2013, a deadline of December 2, 2013 to file motions, and a pre-trial conference date of January 13, 2013.

On December 20, 2012, CSI filed suit against Zimmer and Bezner in this Court. No. CV 12-10876 CAS, Dkt. No. 1 ("CSI Federal Action"). On February 11, 2013, plaintiff filed its First Amended Complaint ("CSI FAC"). CSI asserts the following claims for relief: (1) breach of contract, (2) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and (3) restitution for unjust enrichment. On March 25, 2013, the Court granted Zimmer's motion to dismiss without prejudice. On April 25, 2013, the parties' stipulated to dismiss Zimmer from this action with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(ii). Bezner filed an answer to CSI's FAC on March 8, 2013. A scheduling conference has not yet taken place.

All of the above actions center around the construction and operation of a polyethylene terephthalate ("PET") recycling facility owned by Carbonlite in Riverside, California.

In the Carbonlite Federal Action, Carbonlite alleges that it entered into a contract with Zimmer as the prime contractor for designing, supplying, and installing a fully operational "sorting module" for collecting and conveying plastic bottles within Carbonlite's facility. Carbonlite FAC § 7. Thereafter, Bezner allegedly assumed all of Zimmer's contractual duties by entering into a subcontract with Zimmer. Id . § 8. Carbonlite contends that Bezner and Zimmer breached their respective contracts by failing to properly design, manufacture, and install a "turn key" sorting module. Id . § 10. On March 30, 2012, Zimmer assigned to Carbonlite all of its contractual rights against Bezner, and Carbonlite brings suit, in part, on the basis of this assignment. Id . § 11.

Bezner, in its counterclaim in the Carbonlite Federal Action, alleges that Carbonlite issued a purchase order to Zimmer by which Zimmer agreed to supply a sorting module for Carbonlite's recycling facility. Counterclaim § 5. Pursuant to this purchase order, Zimmer sub-contracted its entire performance to Bezner, whereby Bezner agreed to supply and assemble a pre-manufactured sorting module. Zimmer was to pay Bezner 504, 895 Euros plus $3, 016, 098 for the module and installation. Id . §§ 6-7. In October 2011, a dispute arose between Zimmer and Benzer regarding payments due under the contract and a separate General Agency Agreement. Id . § 8. Thereafter, Carbonlite agreed to pay Bezner directly, rather than making payment through Zimmer. Id . Carbonlite allegedly breached the contract and its agreements with Bezner by failing to pay the entire contractual sum, as Bezner is still owed 78, 226.76 Euros plus $446, 664.29. Id . §§ 10-11. In addition, Bezner allegedly performed additional work on the project not included within scope the original contract, for which Bezner contends it is owed at least an additional 447, 017 Euros. Id . § 12.

In the CSI Federal Action, CSI alleges that it entered into a subcontract with Bezner to furnish and install electrical wiring systems, components, and services pursuant to the plans and specifications for the sorting module project. CSI FAC § 14. During the course of CSI's performance on the project, it allegedly incurred extra work and related costs related to the design, engineering, and programming of the recycling machinery. Id . § 18.CSI submitted multiple change order requests to Bezner, demanding to be reimbursed in the amount of $447, 090 for the additional work it performed. Id . § 19. The amount was ultimately reduced to $434, 778. Id . As CSI continued to complete its work on the project, it submitted multiple invoices to Bezner. Id . § 20. On November 1, 2011, CSI submitted its final invoice to Bezner in the amount of $447, 090, while simultaneously issuing a demand for payment to both Bezner and Zimmer. Id . §§ 20-21. Despite having fully performed all the conditions of its contract with Bezner, CSI alleges that neither Zimmer nor Bezner have fully paid CSI for the work it performed. To date, CSI claims Bezner owes it at least $545, 766.[1]

On May 3, 2013, CSI filed a motion to consolidate the two federal actions presently pending before this Court. Dkt. No. 33. Carbonlite opposed the motion on May 13, 2013, and CSI filed a reply on May 20, 2013. Bezner has not filed a response to CSI's motion. After considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Where two or more "actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, " a court has the discretion to join the actions for a hearing or trial for any or all matters at issue, or to consolidate the actions for all purposes. Fed.R.Civ.P. 42. See Seguro de Servicio de Salud v. McAuto Sys. Group , 878 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1989) ("The threshold issue is whether the two proceedings involve a common party and common issues of fact or law."). Separate trials may subsequently be ordered on "one or more separate issues, claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, or third-party claims." Id . "The district court, in exercising its broad discretion to order consolidation of actions presenting a common issue of law or fact under Rule 42(a), weighs the saving of time and effort ...


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