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Sloan v. Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

January 23, 2018

ARTHUR LEE SLOAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC, ET AL., Defendants. ALEXANDRIA SLOAN Plaintiff,
v.
CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC, ET AL., Defendants. BARBARA LYNN SLOAN Plaintiff,
v.
CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC, ET AL., Defendants. CARL LESEUER Plaintiff,
v.
CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC, ET AL., Defendants.

          Michael E. Untiedt, Marion, Virginia, and Paul V. Morrison, II, Marion, Virginia, for Plaintiffs; John A. Nader, McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC, Washington, D.C. for Defendant Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC, and Dean L. Robinson, Orlans PC, Leesburg, Virginia, for Defendants Orlans PC and ALG Trustee, LLC.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James P. Jones United States District Judge

         These related civil actions, involving allegations of trespass and conversion, were removed from state court. The plaintiffs have moved to remand the cases. One of the defendants, Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC (“CMS”), has moved to consolidate all four actions.[1] For the reasons that follow, while I find that the Notice of Removal likely adequately alleges diversity of citizenship, I will allow CMS to file an amended notice of removal. I also find that the cases involve common questions of law or fact and should be consolidated.

         I.

         These are four separate lawsuits filed in a Virginia state court by the plaintiffs alleging claims of trespass and conversion of property. The actions were timely removed to this court by the defendants based on diversity of citizenship and amount in controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

         CMS has also moved to consolidate these actions pursuant to Rule 42(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiffs do not object to consolidation for discovery and pretrial purposes only, but object to consolidation for trial.

         The plaintiffs have moved to remand the case on the ground that the Notice of Removal did not sufficiently identify the citizenship of each of the members of CMS, a limited liability company.

         The motions have been fully briefed, argued, and are ripe for decision.

         II.

         A. Motion to Consolidate Cases.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that “[i]f actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may . . . consolidate these actions.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(a)(2). District courts have broad discretion when determining whether to consolidate actions pending within the same district. A/S J. Ludwig Mowinckles Rederi v. Tidewater Constr. Co., 559 F.2d 928, 933 (4th Cir. 1977); Arnold v. E. Air Lines, Inc., 681 F.2d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 1982). Courts should consider “the risk of inconsistent adjudications of common factual and legal issues, ” the burden on the parties, “available judicial resources posed by multiple lawsuits, ” the “time required to conclude multiple suits” as opposed to a single action, and “the relative expense” to all parties. Arnold, 681 F.2d at 193.

         These actions all involve the same questions of law and fact. The allegations arise out of the same set of events and the same two tracts of real property, in which the plaintiffs each have an interest, either as owners or tenants. In fact, the allegations in all four Complaints are identical to one another. Moreover, the questions of law are the same for each case: whether the defendants trespassed on the property and whether the defendants converted the plaintiffs' personal property.

         The plaintiffs contend that they have each suffered separate and distinct losses of personal property, and consolidation of trials in this matter might be prejudicial by possibility limiting the amount of punitive damages awarded each plaintiff. I do not find this argument persuasive. Separating these matters into four separate trials would unnecessarily waste judicial resources and time, unduly burden the parties, and create a risk of ...


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