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Nozolino v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 7, 2013

ROXANNE NOZOLINO, Plaintiff,
v.
HARTFORD LIFE AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO TRANSFER ACTION TO THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA AND DENYING MOTION TO RELATE CASES Re: ECF Nos. 18, 25

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

IN this action for violations of ERISA, Defendants move under 28 U.S.C. Section 1404(a) to transfer the action to the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Plaintiff Nozolino moves to relate this action to another action in this district under Civil Local Rule 3-12. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to transfer is GRANTED and Nozolino's motion to relate is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Roxanne Nozolino brings this action for denial of disability benefits under ERISA against Defendants Hartford, ImpreMedia Company Plan ("the Plan"), and ImpreMedia Operating Company, LLC ("ImpreMedia"). Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 1-6, ECF No. 1.

Nozolino is a former employee of ImpreMedia. During her employment with ImpreMedia, Nozolino was covered under the Plan, which is insured by Hartford and maintained by ImpreMedia in Los Angeles, California, and New York, New York. Mot. at 3-4, ECF No. 18. Hartford is a citizen of Connecticut. Id. at 4.

Defendants move to transfer this action to the Central District of California, arguing that the transfer is in the interest of justice and would promote the convenience of the parties and witnesses. In support of their motion, Defendants contend that Nozolino currently lives in the Central District of California and that she lived there throughout her employment with ImpreMedia and during the pendency of the benefit claim at issue. They also contend that the acts giving rise to Nozolino's claims took place in the Central District, and that the Plan is maintained in the Central District.

In her opposition, which is untimely, Nozolino argues that "until three days ago, [she] was largely indifferent" as to whether this action was transferred, but her feelings changed after she learned of the filing in this district of another ERISA action against Hartford captioned Arko v. Hartford Life and Acc. Ins. Co. et al., No. 13-cv-1044 YGR ("Arko"). Opp'n at 1-2, ECF No. 23. In light of this discovery, Nozolino moves to relate this action to Arko, arguing that the cases should be tried by a single judge to promote judicial economy and to avoid inconsistent rulings. ECF No. 25 at 2. Nozolino filed her motion to relate after Defendants filed their motion to transfer.

II. MOTION TO RELATE CASES

A. Legal Standard

A party may move to relate an action to another action if both actions are pending in this district and the following two elements are satisfied: (1) the actions concern substantially the same parties, property, transaction, or event; and (2) it appears likely that there will be an unduly burdensome duplication of labor and expense or conflicting results if the cases are conducted before different judges. Civil L.R. 3-12.

B. Discussion

The Court concludes that this action is not related to Arko within the meaning of Civil Local Rule 3-12. The only ties between this case and Arko are that both cases involve claims brought under ERISA and that Harford is a defendant in both actions. These ties are insufficient to find that the actions concern substantially the same parties, transaction, or event. Moreover, the Court is not persuaded that there will be an unduly burdensome duplication of labor if the cases are not related, as Nozolino admits that "[t]he facts of each plaintiff's disability claim will, of course, be unique." Mot. at 2, ECF No. 25. Accordingly, Nozolino's motion to relate is DENIED.

III. MOTION TO ...


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