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Johnston v. Dooley

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

August 9, 2016

DAVID H. JOHNSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT DOOLEY, WARDEN, MIKE DURFEE STATE PRISON, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; AND DENNIS KAEMINGK, SECRETARY OF CORRECTIONS FOR THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; Defendants. MICHAEL READD, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT DOOLEY, WARDEN MIKE DURFEE STATE PRISON, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; AND DENNIS KAEMINGK, SOUTH DAKOTA SECRETARY OF CORRECTIONS, IN HIS OFFICIAL AND INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES; Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO CONSOLIDATE AND EXTEND MOTIONS FILING DEADLINE DOCKET NOS. 29, 43

          VERONICA L. DUFFY, United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the court on the pro se complaints of David H. Johnston and Michael Readd pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants in both of these cases have filed a motion to consolidate both cases into one. Defendants also seek to amend the scheduling order to extend the deadline for filing motions. Neither Mr. Johnston nor Mr. Readd object to these motions. The district court, the Honorable Lawrence L. Piersol, referred these motions to this magistrate judge for resolution, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A).

         BACKGROUND

         Both Mr. Johnston and Mr. Readd filed nearly identical complaints with this court on July 16, 2015. Both complaints name the same defendants. Both complaints complain of conditions at the Mike Durfee State Prison at Springfield, South Dakota. The complaints of both Mr. Johnston and Mr. Readd relate to the availability of legal resources and other related matters such as access to the Internet. Both men rely on the same constitutional provisions in support of their nearly-identical claims.

         DISCUSSION

         The court has authority to consolidate actions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), which states:

         If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may:

(1) join for hearing or trial any and all matters at issue in the actions;
(2) consolidate the actions; or
(3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay.

         “'The Rule should be prudently employed as a valuable and important tool of judicial administration, involved to expedite trial and eliminate unnecessary repetition and confusion.'” Bendzak v. Midland Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 240 F.R.D. 449, 450 (S.D. Iowa 2007) (quoting Devlin v. Transp. Commc=ns Int=l Union, 175 F.3d 121, 130 (2d Cir. 1999)). The purpose of consolidation is “to avoid unnecessary cost or delay.” Id. “Consolidation is inappropriate, however, if it leads to inefficiency, inconvenience, or unfair prejudice to a party.” E.E.O.C. v. HBE Corp., 135 F.3d 543, 551 (8th Cir. 1998). However,

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, Fed. Practice & Procedure, § 2384 (3d ed. 2008) (hereinafter “Wright & Miller). The district court has broad discretion in determining whether to consolidate cases containing a common question of fact or law. See ...


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