Local Rule 2.31(B). A motion for reassignment on the basis of relatedness is not made to the judge before whom the case is pending, but "shall be filed with the judge before whom the lowest-numbered case of the claimed related set is pending." Local Rule 2.31(C).
We agree with the plaintiffs who have moved for reassignment that the twelve cases at issue are related to Apostolou. Each complaint, which essentially mimics the fourteen-count amended complaint filed in Apostolou, alleges that by procuring investments in Lake States, and permitting Lake States to trade commodity futures without being registered with the CFTC, the individual defendants and Geldermann violated the Commodities Exchange Act §§ 4d, 4b, 4o. and 13(a) (7 U.S.C. §§ 6d, 6b, 6o, 13(a)), the Securities and Exchange Act of 1933 §§ 12(2) and 15 (15 U.S.C. §§ 771(2), 77o), the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 §§ 10(b) and 20(a) (15 U.S.C. §§ 78j(b), 78t(a)), Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5 (17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968), and the common law of fraud.
The allegations focus on essentially the same behavior by the defendants, and the theories of liability are identical. Thus, because the thirteen complaints give rise to common questions of law, they are related under the definition of Local Rule 2.31(A).
However, notwithstanding the relatedness of the cases, we do not believe at this time that reassignment is appropriate under section B of Local Rule 2.31. True, all the cases are currently pending, and none has progressed to the point where the earlier cases would be delayed by the reassignment of the later ones.
Moreover, the questions of law common to all the cases appear both complex and numerous. Nonetheless, we are not convinced at this point that the reassignment of all the cases to this court "is likely to result in a substantial saving of judicial time and effort." Local Rule 2.31(B)(2) (emphasis added). The plaintiffs, who vary widely in investor sophistication, contend that they were deceived by the individual defendants as to the legitimacy of Lake States. The representations made to each plaintiff, and the reasonableness of any reliance actually placed on these representations, might well differ from plaintiff to plaintiff. Thus, at this stage in the proceedings it is unclear whether several separate trials will be necessary to resolve the contested factual issues, in which event reassignment would not result in a substantial saving of judicial time and effort. Accordingly, we will not accept reassignment of the eleven cases at issue pursuant to Local Rule 2.31. If at a later time it appears that reassignment is appropriate, we will reconsider the motions for reassignment.
Despite our rejection of a complete reassignment at this point, we recognize that the commonality between the cases is strong enough to merit some form of coordinated treatment. Even if a group of cases is not appropriate for reassignment, Local Rule 2.30(G) provides for their limited reassignment to a single judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings where the Executive Committee determines that such treatment "would be in the best interests of efficient judicial administration." In this instance some of the defendants will most certainly have arguments for dismissal that will be common to all the cases.
Moreover, because the defendants in each case are identical (with the exception discussed supra at note 1), and a significant degree of factual overlap may exist between the cases, a coordinated discovery plan for all cases would be in the interests of the parties and their attorneys. Accordingly, we will recommend to the Executive Committee that the eleven cases
listed below in Appendix I be reassigned to this court for the limited purpose of resolving a consolidated motion to dismiss that raises legal issues common to all cases, and coordinating pretrial discovery matters. Counsel in all thirteen related cases are directed to appear for a status on February 13, 1996 at 10:00 a.m., at which time they shall be prepared to discuss (1) a joint discovery plan, worked-out ahead of time by the parties, (2) the viability of utilizing Magistrate Judge Lefkow (who has been assigned to the Apostolou case) to resolve all discovery disputes common to each of the thirteen cases, and (3) the filing of a consolidated motion to dismiss on issues applicable to all cases, as well as the filing of a coordinated and joint response by the plaintiffs to any such motion.
It is so ordered.
MARVIN E. ASPEN
United States District Judge
Cases to be Reassigned for Pretrial Purposes
1. Stevens v. Geldermann, 94 C 4631 (Judge Manning)
2. Compton v. Geldermann, 94 C 6371 (Judge Bucklo)
3. Paraskevopoulos v. Geldermann, 94 C 7565 (Judge Marovich)
4. Allison v. Geldermann, 95 C 0599 (Judge Zagel)
5. Henke v. Geldermann, 95 C 3172 (Judge Shadur)
6. Arnet v. Geldermann, 95 C 3292 (Judge Hart)
7. Sellis v. Geldermann, 95 C 3293 (Judge Nordberg)
8. Andrea v. Geldermann, 95 C 3325 (Judge Marovich)
9. Boesche v. Geldermann, 95 C 3403 (Judge Marovich)
10. Symcat Real Estate v. Geldermann, 95 C 3531 (Judge Norgle)
11. Kemp v. Geldermann, 95 C 5910 (Judge Duff)
To be reassigned pursuant to Local Rule 2.30(G) with Apostolou v. Geldermann, 94 C 3876, and Arvanitis v. Geldermann, 95 C 1114, already pending before this court.