The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In December 2003, Plaintiff, Clarence Gross, filed suit against
Defendants, the Town of Cicero, Betty Loren-Maltese, Ramiro
Gonzalez, and Edward Vrdolyak, alleging violations of Clarence's
First Amendment and Equal Protection rights. Clarence alleges he
was discriminated and retaliated against for complaining about
sexual harassment and retaliation directed at his daughter and for his willingness to tell the truth and testify in
a pending civil action against the Town of Cicero. The Town of
Cicero filed a Counterclaim against Clarence, alleging unjust
enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty.
In January 2004, Plaintiff, Rhonda Gross, filed suit against
Defendants, the Town of Cicero, Betty Loren-Maltese, Thomas
Rowan, Chief Wayne Johnson, and Jerald Rodish, alleging
violations of Rhonda's First Amendment and Equal Protection
rights, sexual harassment and discrimination in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et
seq., Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., as amended by the
Civil Rights Act of 1991, Civil Rights Act of 1866,
42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 1988, 28 U.S.C. § 2201 et seq., and a state law
claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Rhonda
alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment, gender
discrimination, and retaliation while a police officer for the
Town of Cicero.
Plaintiff has moved to consolidate the two cases for trial,
contending that a consolidated trial would further judicial
economy and efficiency because both cases involve the same
witnesses, have a great degree of overlap of the facts, and the
legal claims and issues overlap. Defendants oppose consolidation,
contending Plaintiff's motion is untimely and that the two cases
are vastly different.
Actions involving common questions of law or fact may be
consolidated for trial to promote convenience and judicial
economy. Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a); Midwest Comm. Council, Inc. v.
Chicago Park Dist., 98 F.R.D. 491, 499 (N.D. Ill. 1983)
(Midwest). It is within the court's discretion to consolidate
actions for trial; if the two actions are of like nature and
relative to the same question, if a joint trial would avoid
unnecessary delay and costs, if it is reasonable to try the cases
together, and if no party will be prejudiced by a joint trial.
See Midwest, 98 F.R.D. at 499. Here, Plaintiff filed her motion to consolidate the two cases
less than a month before trial was scheduled to begin and after
the date the Court ordered such a motion to be filed. Thus,
Plaintiff's motion is untimely. More importantly, a review of the
two cases demonstrates that consolidation would not promote
convenience and judicial economy.
The allegations of each of the two cases are fully set forth in
the Court's previous Memorandum Opinion and Orders addressing
motions to dismiss filed in each of the two cases and are not
repeated here. While both cases will have some common witnesses
and issues, the two claims are not similar enough to consolidate
Clarence's claims are based on allegations that he was
retaliated against for speaking out about his daughter's alleged
sexual harassment and his willingness to testify in a separate
case involving the Town of Cicero. Clarence was not a Town of
Cicero Police Officer at the time, and his allegations are not
related to the police department. Clarence's willingness to
testify in another case also is unrelated in all respects to
Rhonda's claims. In addition, the Town of Cicero filed a
Counterclaim against Clarence, alleging, in part, that Clarence
breached his fiduciary duty by hiring as many as twenty-five
unqualified police officers. The Counterclaim is unrelated to
Rhonda's claims. These different claims will require several
witnesses and legal issues not related to Rhonda's claims.
In contrast, Rhonda's claims center on her treatment within the
police department, including alleged harassment, failure of the
police department to act, and alleged retaliation. These
allegations are not related to Clarence's claims and will require
several witnesses and legal issues not related to Clarence's
claims. Furthermore, consolidation of the cases would create conflicts
for counsel. Defendant Rodish in the Rhonda case is represented
by Nick Geanopoulos of the Vrdolyak Law Firm. Vrdolyak is a
defendant in the Clarence case. If the cases were consolidated,
Geanopoulos would be acting as counsel for Rodish in the same
matter in which Vrdolyak is a defendant at trial.
Based on the above, consolidation of the cases would not
promote convenience and judicial economy. Plaintiff's Motion to
Consolidate is denied.
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