United States District Court, S.D. California
CARLOS GONZALEZ, JUAN JOSE MERINO-RODAS, MARIBEL GUTIERREZ-DUARTE, and JENNYE PAGOADA-LOPEZ, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
CORECIVIC, INC., Defendant.
ORDER:(1) DENYING MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE; AND (2)
STAYING CASE (ECF NO. 23)
JANIS L. SAMMARTINO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiffs Carlos Gonzalez, Juan Jose
Merino-Rodas, Maribel Gutierrez-Canchola, Gladys
Carrera-Duarte, and Jennye Pagoada-Lopez's
(“Gonzalez Plaintiffs”) Motion to Consolidate,
(“MTN, ” ECF No. 23). The Court permitted the
plaintiffs (“Owino Plaintiffs”) in a related
matter, Owino v. CoreCivic, 17-CV-1112, to intervene
for the limited purpose of filing an opposition to this
Motion, (ECF No. 36). Accordingly, Owino Plaintiffs filed a
Response in Opposition, (“Owino Opp'n, ” ECF
No. 37), as did Defendant CoreCivic, Inc., (“Def.
Opp'n, ” ECF No. 38), to the Gonzalez
Plaintiffs' Motion. The Gonzalez Plaintiffs filed a Reply
in Support of, (“Reply, ” ECF No. 41), their
Motion. The Court vacated the hearing and took the matter
under submission without oral argument pursuant to Civil
Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). (ECF No. 42.) Having considered the
Parties' arguments and the law, the Court rules as
case involves two related class actions. On May 31, 2017,
Owino Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against
Defendant in this Court. (“Owino Compl., ” ECF
No. 1, No. 17-CV-1112.) The Owino Plaintiffs are former civil
immigration detainees and allege they were paid $1 a day for
labor while they were interred at Defendant's Otay Mesa
Detention Facility. (Id. ¶ 10.) They also
allege that other detainees were forced to work for no pay.
(Id. ¶ 13.) Owino Plaintiffs seek to certify a
class of “all civil immigration detainees who performed
Forced Labor uncompensated work for CoreCivic at any
Detention Facility owned or operated by it between November
2, 2004 to the applicable opt-out date, inclusive.”
(Id. ¶ 30.)
December 27, 2017, Gonzalez Plaintiffs filed a second
putative class action lawsuit against Defendant in the
Southern District. (“Gonzalez Compl., ” ECF No.
1.) The case was transferred from Judge Anthony J.
Battaglia's calendar to this Court pursuant to Civil
Local Rule 40.1. The Gonzalez Plaintiffs, like Owino
Plaintiffs, are former civil immigration detainees housed at
Defendant's Otay Mesa facility. They allege that they
received $1 or $1.50 a day for their labor at the detention
facility. The Gonzales Plaintiffs seek to certify classes,
including “[a]ll civil immigration detainees who
performed work for CoreCivic at the Otay Mesa Detention
Center in the Work Program within the past ten years.”
(Id. ¶ 111.) Gonzalez Plaintiffs now seek to
consolidate the two class actions.
of actions is appropriate “[i]f actions before the
court involve a common question of law or fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a)(2). A district court has broad discretion
in determining whether to consolidate actions pending in the
same district. See Investors Research Co. v. U.S. Dist.
Court for Cent. Dist. Of Cal., 877 F.2d 777, 777 (9th
Cir. 1989) (citing 9 Charles A. Wright et al., Federal
Practice and Procedure § 2383 (1971); and A/S
J. Ludwig Mowinckles Rederi v. Tidewater Const. Co., 559
F.2d 928 (4th Cir. 1977)). “In determining whether to
consolidate cases, a court should also weigh any time and
effort saved by consolidation against any
‘inconvenience, delay, or expense that [consolidation]
would cause.'” Fialkov v. Celladon Corp.,
No. 15CV1458 AJB (DHB), 2015 WL 11658717, at *2 (S.D. Cal.
Dec. 9, 2015) (alteration in original) (citing Huene v.
United States, 743 F.2d 703, 704 (9th Cir. 1984)).
parties across both actions agree that the Owino and
Gonzalez actions involve related facts and claims.
The parties diverge, however, on what steps the Court should
take to manage its docket and proceed forward with this case
and the Owino case. Gonzalez Plaintiffs argue that
their action involves common questions of law and fact such
that consolidation of their action with the Owino
action would be appropriate. (See MTN
4.)Both Owino Plaintiffs and Defendant argue
that the Court should exercise its discretion to dismiss,
rather than consolidate, the Gonzalez action because
the Gonzalez action is duplicative of the
Owino action. (Def Opp'n 11; Owino Opp'n 7.)
In response, Gonzalez Plaintiffs argue that dismissal of
their action would be inappropriate because the two actions
are not duplicative. (Reply 6.) The Court proceeds as
follows. First, the Court determines whether the
Gonzalez action is duplicative of the Owino
action. Second, the Court determines which procedural action
best serves the interests of judicial economy and preserves
the rights of all parties going forward.
Whether the Gonzalez Action is Duplicative
threshold matter, the Court clarifies which rules or
standards it applies in the analysis here. There are three
similar rules the Court could apply to the issue before the
Court. The Gonzalez Plaintiffs urge the Court apply Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 42, which permits the Court to
consolidate actions involving “common question of law
or fact.” The Owino Plaintiffs would have the Court
adopt a “first-to-file” rule, which applies when
two similar actions are filed in different federal courts.
Defendant submits the rule against claim splitting applies,
which courts invoke when a plaintiff files two actions
against the same defendant based on the same facts. District
courts in this circuit have analyzed duplicative class
actions under both the first-to-file rule, see Weinstein
v. Metlife, Inc., No. C 06-4444 SI, 2006 WL 3201045, at
*4 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 6, 2006), and the claim-splitting rule,
see Chowning v. Kohl's Dep't Stores, Inc.,
No. CV 15-8673 RGK (SPx), 2016 WL 7655752, at *2 (C.D. Cal.
Mar. 2, 2016). The Court applies the claim-splitting rule
because the first-to-file rule applies to cases between
different districts. See Moore v. Roadway Express,
Inc., No. CV 09-1588, 2009 WL 10670954, at *4 (C.D. Cal.
Oct. 7, 2009).
courts retain broad discretion to control their dockets and
‘[i]n the exercise of that power they may impose
sanctions including, where appropriate, default or
dismissal.'” Adams v. Cal. Dep't of Health
Servs., 487 F.3d 684, 688 (9th Cir. 2007) (alteration in
original) (quoting Thompson v. Hous. Auth. of City of
L.A., 782 F.2d 829, 831 (9th Cir. 1986) (per curiam);
and citing Link v. Wabash R.R., 370 U.S. 626, 629-30
(1962)), abrogated in part by Taylor v. Sturgell,
553 U.S. 880, 904 (2008). “Plaintiffs generally have
‘no right to maintain two separate actions involving
the same subject matter at the same time in the same court
and against the same defendant.'” Id.
(quoting Walton v. Eaton Corp., 563 F.2d 66, 70 (3d
Cir. 1977) (en banc)).
determine whether a suit is duplicative, courts apply the
test for claim preclusion. See The Haytian Republic,
154 U.S. 118, 124 (1894). This is a two-part standard. Thus,
a court must first determine whether the causes of action and
relief sought in the two suits are identical. Adams,
487 F.3d at 689. Then a court determines whether the parties,
or their privies, are the same. Id.