United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
ANTHONY C. HAMPTON, et al, Plaintiffs,
MARITIME ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMAN ASSOCIATION PENSION RETIREMENT WELFARE AND VACATION FUNDS, Defendant.
C. HANKS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
filed a Motion to Consolidate, asking this Court to
consolidate this matter with another, later-filed case, now
pending in the Houston Division of the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Texas, 4:16-cv-02103
Hampton et al v. ILA Local 24.
to Plaintiffs, in November 2013, the members of International
Longshoremen's Association Local 24 "voted to file a
lawsuit against maritime association -I.L.A. Pension,
Retirement, Welfare and Vacation Funds" complaining that
money from the Container Royalty 5 Fund, "should have
been paid directly to the membership, but was instead
diverted to pension plans." Plaintiffs further allege
that the members of ILA Local 24 also voted to "hire The
Law Offices of Reginald E. McKamie, Sr., PC, to represent
them in the suit and that ILA 24 would pay the legal
expenses." Dkt. l-7in4:16-cv-2103.
two years later, in September 2015, Plaintiffs Anthony C.
Hampton, Edward J. Richards, and Ricky Henderson filed suit
in this Court, alleging that Defendant Maritime Association -
I.L.A. Pension, Retirement, Welfare and Vacation Funds (the
Association) had breached its fiduciary duty and contractual
obligation and improperly diverted more than $14, 000, 000.00
to a pension plan that the Association controls and pays
millions of dollars in fees to third parties for
"administrative expenses." The Association is the
sole defendant in the suit. The discovery cut-off in this
suit was March 17, 2017, docket call is set for June 17,
2017, and the jury trial is set for July 2017.
months after they filed suit in this Court, Plaintiffs then
filed a declaratory judgment action in the 165th
Judicial District Court of Harris County Texas. The single
defendant in that case is "International
Longshoremen's Association Local 24, " who removed
the suit to the Houston Division. In that case, Plaintiffs
assert a declaratory judgment claim, asking for a declaration
that "ILA 24 is bound by the vote of its membership to
pay the legal fees incurred both in the past and in the
future in bringing the action against [the Association]"
and that Plaintiffs are entitled to "reimbursement of
past legal expenses." The discovery cut-off in that
lawsuit is June 30, 2017, and the case is set for a bench
trial in November or December 2017.
Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) provides that if actions
"involve a common question of law or fact, " the
court may "consolidate the actions" or "issue
any other order to avoid unnecessary cost or delay."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). Consolidation does not merge the suits
into a single action or change the rights of the parties;
rather, consolidation is "intended only as a procedural
device used to promote judicial efficiency and economy"
and "the actions maintain their separate
identities." See Frazier v. Garrison I.S.D.,
980 F.2d 1514, 1532 (5th Cir. 1993). The decision to
consolidate actions under Rule 42(a) is "entirely within
the discretion of the district court as it seeks to promote
the administration of justice." Gentry v.
Smith, 487 F.2d 571, 581 (5th Cir. 1973); see also
Luera v. M/V Alberta, 635 F.3d 181, 194 (5th Cir. 2011).
weighing consolidation, courts consider whether: the actions
are pending before the same court; the actions involve a
common party; any risk of prejudice or confusion will result
from consolidation; any risk of inconsistent adjudications of
common factual or legal questions will result if the matters
are tried separately; consolidation will reduce the time and
cost of trying the cases separately; and the cases are at the
same stage of preparation for trial." Taylor v.
Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, CIV.A. H-12-2929, 2013 WL
3356231, at *1 (S.D. Tex. July 3, 2013) (citing Arnold
& Co., LLC v. David K. Young Consulting, LLC, 2013
WL 1411773, at *l-2 (W.D.Tex. Apr.8, 2013)).
these factors, and considering both lawsuits, the Court
DENIES the motion to consolidate. Although both lawsuits
involve the same three plaintiffs, there is not enough
overlap of the facts or claims in the two lawsuits to warrant
consolidation here. Further, the actions are pending in two
separate divisions, involve different Defendants, and are at
different procedural stages. Given the different nature of
the claims asserted against two separate Defendants in these
lawsuits, there is little if any risk of inconsistent
adjudications of common factual or legal questions if these