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Wu v. Zinke

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 12, 2019

LIMING WU, Plaintiff,
v.
RYAN ZINKE, Secretary of the United States Department of the Interior, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ROBERT C. BRACK, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of Order Consolidating Cases and for Judicial Recusal of the Honorable Brack from Presiding as Judge in this Actions [sic], filed on October 12, 2018. (Doc. 73.) Having considered the parties' arguments and the relevant law, the Court will deny the motion.

         I. Motion to Reconsider

         On September 13, 2018, the Court entered a Memorandum Opinion and Order (the “Order”) consolidating the three cases Ms. Liming Wu (Plaintiff) has filed in this Court.[1] (See Doc. 67.) Plaintiff now moves the Court to reconsider its decision to consolidate her cases pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). (See Doc. 73.) Plaintiff argues that reconsideration is appropriate because the Court mischaracterized her claims in its Order and because there has been an intervening change in the controlling law.

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides that:

any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties does not end the action as to any of the claims or parties and may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities.

         Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The Court reviews a motion under Rule 54(b) using the same standards it uses to review a motion to alter or amend a judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e). See Casanova v. Ulibarri, No. CIV 08-288 JAP/CG, 2016 WL 8136014, at *1 (D.N.M. Mar. 2, 2016). “Under either rule, a court may grant a motion for reconsideration in three circumstances: when there is ‘an intervening change in the controlling law, the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct clear error or prevent manifest injustice.'” Id. (quoting Brumark Corp. v. Samson Res. Corp., 57 F.3d 941, 948 (10th Cir. 1995)).

         B. Plaintiff has identified no circumstance sufficient for the Court to reconsider its Order.

         Plaintiff's motion to reconsider is largely based on her concerns that the Court's consolidation of the three actions has somehow changed or deleted some of her claims or the defendants. (See Doc. 73 at 10 (arguing that the Order “concealed Defendant Aden Seidlitz from the case[ and] eliminated questions of law”).) Plaintiff also believes that the Order “generalize[d the] independent nature of Plaintiff's underlying claims and their separate and distinct identities.” (Id.) Misquoting language from the Order, she argues that the Court mischaracterized her claims by focusing on the state claims and omitting her claims arising under federal law. (Id. at 8 (quoting Doc. 67 at 1).) Her quote reads, “Plaintiff filed this case on February 18, 2014, pursuant to the New Mexico Human Rights Act.” (Doc. 73 at 8.) Yet, the Court's Order actually reads: “Plaintiff filed this case on February 18, 2014, asserting claims of discrimination based on race/national origin and age, unlawful employment practices pursuant to the New Mexico Human Rights Act, negligence, and retaliation . . . .” (Doc. 67 at 1 (emphasis added).) The Court did not omit her federal claims, it simply recited the basic claims without citing the applicable statutes the claims arise under. (See id.) Even if the Court had neglected to specifically mention one of her claims, the Order consolidating the actions does not change the nature of the actions themselves.

         Consolidation does not delete claims or defendants. It simply gathers all of the claims into one action before one judge in order to conserve resources. After cases have been consolidated, “the actions do not lose their separate identity; the parties to one action do not become parties to the other.” Chaara v. Intel Corp., 410 F.Supp.2d 1080, 1090 (D.N.M. 2005) (quoting McKenzie v. United States, 678 F.2d 571, 574 (5th Cir. 1982)) (internal citations omitted). “Instead, consolidation is an artificial link forged by a court for the administrative convenience of the parties; it fails to erase the fact that, underneath consolidation's façade, lie [three] individual cases.” Id. at 1094 (citations omitted).

         Plaintiff argues that the Supreme Court's decision in Hall v. Hall, 138 S.Ct. 1118, 200 L.Ed.2d 399 (2018), lends support to her position. (See Doc. 73 at 9-10.) In Hall, the Supreme Court found that where cases are consolidated under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a), and one (but not all) of the constituent cases receives a final decision, that decision is immediately appealable. 138 S.Ct. at 1131. Hall is inapplicable to Plaintiff's motion, because she is not seeking to appeal any of her three cases.

         In sum, Plaintiff has not provided a reason for the Court to reconsider its Order. As the Court found previously, Plaintiff's three cases present common questions of law and fact, and consolidation is appropriate. The Court will deny Plaintiff's motion to reconsider.

         II. ...


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