United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jeffrey R. Anderson, Esq., and Trusha Patel Goffe, Esq., Jeff
Anderson & Associates, P.A., Saint Paul, MN, on behalf of
Stephen O. Plunkett, Esq., Steven P. Aggergaard, Esq., and
Jessica L. Klander, Esq., Bassford Remele, P.A., Minneapolis,
MN, on behalf of Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for consideration of Plaintiffs Doe YZ, Doe XY, and Doe
AB's (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) Motion to
Consolidate Cases for Trial [Docket No. 93]. Defendant
Shattuck-St. Mary's School (“Shattuck”)
opposes the Motion. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiffs' Motion is granted.
cases arise from alleged sexual abuse at Shattuck
approximately fifteen years ago. Shattuck is a private
boarding and day school located in Faribault, Minnesota. The
three Plaintiffs each allege sexual abuse by former Shattuck
teacher Lynn Seibel (“Seibel”) while they were
students at the school. Each of them seeks to hold Shattuck
liable for the abuse under theories of negligence, negligent
supervision, and negligent retention.
October 5, 2016, Shattuck's Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket No. 57] was denied. The cases are now ready for
trial. Plaintiffs seek to consolidate the three cases for
trial. If that request is denied, Plaintiffs alternatively
request that the cases be tried in the order they were filed,
with Doe YZ being tried first. Shattuck opposes
consolidation. Shattuck also opposes trying Doe YZ's case
42(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure instructs that
a court may order consolidation of pending actions that
“involve a common question of law or fact.”
“The party seeking consolidation bears the burden of
showing that it would promote judicial convenience and
economy.” Powell v. Nat'l Football League,
764 F.Supp. 1351, 1359 (D. Minn. 1991). Consolidation is
inappropriate “if it leads to inefficiency,
inconvenience or unfair prejudice to a party.” EEOC
v. HBE Corp., 135 F.3d 543, 551 (8th Cir. 1998).
consolidation is not barred simply because the plaintiffs may
be relying on different legal theories or because there are
some questions that are not common to all the actions; the
critical considerations, as in other contexts of the Federal
Rules, is whether there is at least one common question of
law or fact to justify bringing the actions together . . . .
Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller, Mary Kay Kane, Richard
L. Marcus, A. Benjamin Spencer & Adam N. Steinman,
Fed. Practice & Procedure, § 2384 (3d ed.
2008). A motion to consolidate is entrusted to the sound
discretion of the district court. Enter. Bank v.
Saettele, 21 F.3d 233, 235 (8th Cir. 1994).
are many common questions of law and fact among the three
cases. Most importantly, each case alleges that Shattuck is
liable for the sexual abuse by Seibel under the same legal
theories. Since the abuser, the Defendant, and the causes of
action are common in each case, there is no risk of the jury
being confused about which Defendant is liable to which
Plaintiff under which legal theory. Moreover, each Plaintiff
was abused by Seibel during the same general time period, and
each Plaintiff's testimony about their encounters with
Seibel will be both personal and unique, diminishing any
concern that the jury will blend the three Plaintiffs into
the three Plaintiffs are represented by the same counsel and
Shattuck's defense team are all lawyers in the same law
firm. If the Plaintiffs' cases were tried separately, ...