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Jolicoeur v. Minor

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 12, 2018

John Sherman Jolicoeur, Plaintiff,
L. Minor, et al., Defendants.



         Pending before the Court are several motions from Plaintiff John Sherman Jolicoeur, including: (1) “Motion Joinder of Claims and Remedies” (doc. 41); (2) Motion to Join Parties under Rule 19(a) (doc. 42); (3) Motion to Appoint Counsel (doc. 68); (4) Motion for Court Order (doc. 72); (5) Motion to Compel Production of Documents (doc. 74); and (6) Motion for Waiver of Copy Fees (doc. 80). The Court will address each motion below.

         I. Background.

         On March 29, 2017, Plaintiff filed a pro se Civil Rights Complaint. (Doc. 1.) In the Court's June 22, 2017 Screening Order (doc. 7), the Court provided the following summary of Plaintiff's claims, relevant to his pending motions:

Plaintiff alleges that he suffers from intervertebral disc disorders and that from September 7, 2016, to January 18, 2017, he experienced multiples lapses and irregularities in the provision of his prescribed pain medications, gabapentin and Roboxin. (Doc. 1 at 6.) Plaintiff also alleges that the lapses in medication that occurred in September 2016 resulted in the discontinuation of his gabapentin prescription. (Id.) . . .
Plaintiff alleges that his medical treatment violated the terms of the settlement agreement in Parsons v. Ryan [CV 12-00601-PHX-DJH (DKD)], and that Defendants Ryan and Pratt, as signatories to that agreement, are therefore liable for his constitutional injuries. (Id. at 13-14.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Ryan has adopted a policy prohibiting inmates from appealing denials of their medical grievances to Ryan. (Id.) Now, Plaintiff claims, prisoners are forced to seek remedies for conduct that violates the Parsons agreement “from the very medical administration and staffing of medical who are the causes of those violations.” (Id. at 14.)

(Doc. 7 at 3-4 (footnotes omitted).) The Court screened the Complaint and found that

Plaintiff's claim against Defendant Pratt is too vague and conclusory to state a claim. Plaintiff alleges that Pratt was required to ensure that Plaintiff's medications were either transferred to the Buckley Unit when Plaintiff was “or otherwise provided at the receiving prison without interruption.” However, Plaintiff does not allege any facts to show that Pratt knew that Plaintiff was going to be transferred or knew about any resulting lapses in Plaintiff's medications. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for relief against Defendant Pratt, and this Defendant will be dismissed without prejudice.

(Id. at 9.)

         II. Motion Joinder of Claims and Remedies.

         On December 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed his “Motion Joinder of Claims and Remedies of [Parsons v. Ryan] ¶ 12-00601-PHX-DJH (DKD) and [Jolicoeur v. L. Minor] ¶ 17-00930-PHX-PGR (JZB) Rule 18(a)(b).” (Doc. 41.) Plaintiff asserts that he is “a member of Parsons v. Ryan class action civil case[, ]” and therefore the settlement agreement reached there applies to this action. (Id. at 2.) In his Motion, Plaintiff asserts no new claims. “A party asserting a claim, counterclaim, crossclaim, or third-party claim may join, as independent or alternative claims, as many claims as it has against an opposing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 18(a).

         Plaintiff's Motion is not the model of clarity, but Plaintiff appears to seek consolidation of this action with Parsons v. Ryan, CV12-00601-PHX-DJH (DKD). Plaintiff's intention is apparent for several reasons: (1) Plaintiff has asserted no new claims; (2) Plaintiff's Motion includes the case numbers of this action and of Parsons, (3) Plaintiff alleges he is a member of the Parsons class, and notes that Defendant Ryan and Mr. Pratt are defendants in Parsons; (4) Plaintiff alleges that both actions involve the same questions of fact; and (5) Plaintiff alleges that “Defendant Ryan delayed three years after signing Parsons v. Ryan settlement agreement and one year after this Plaintiff's transfer on 9/7/2016, for Defendant Ryan to affect a policy revision to ensure inmates are transferred with [their] chronic pain medications.” (Id. at 10.)

         Each of the above listed facts indicates that Plaintiff does not intend to join independent or alternative claims to this action under Rule 18, but rather to consolidate this action with Parsons. Accordingly, the Court will treat Plaintiff's Motion Joinder of Claims and Remedies as a Motion to Consolidate. Woods v. Carey, 525 F.3d 886, 890 (9th Cir. 2008) (directing the district court to treat as a motion to amend a second habeas corpus petition filed while the first petition was pending) (citing United States v. Seesing, 234 F.3d 456, 462 (9th Cir. 2001) (“Pro se complaints and motions from prisoners are to be liberally construed.”)).

         A. Legal Standard.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 42(a) provides that “[i]f actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may . . . (2) consolidate the actions. . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 42(a). “[C]onsolidation is permitted as a matter of convenience and economy in administration[, ]” and “district courts enjoy substantial discretion in deciding whether and to what extent to consolidate cases.” Hall v. Hall, 138 S.Ct. 1118, 1127 & 1131 (2018). But the existence of a common question alone does not guarantee consolidation. See Robert Kubicek Architects & Assocs., Inc. v. Bosley, No. CV-11-02112-PHX-DGC, 2012 WL 6554396, at *8 (D. Ariz. Dec. 14, 2012) (finding consolidation was not proper because the two actions were at different stages of litigation, and consolidation “would create substantial inconvenience and delay.”).

         In determining whether consolidation is appropriate, a court “must balance the interest of judicial convenience against the potential for delay, confusion and prejudice that may result from such consolidation.” Bank of Montreal v. Eagle Assoc., 117 F.R.D. 530, 532 (S.D.N.Y. 1987) (citing Katz v. Realty Equities Corp., 521 F.2d 1354, 1362 (2d Cir. 1975)); see also, Kubicek Architects & Assocs., 2012 WL 6554396 at *8. Factors such as differing trial dates or stages of discovery usually weigh against consolidation. Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2383 (1995).

         The moving party bears the burden of proof on a motion for consolidation. See, e.g., In Re Repetitive Stress Injury Litig., 11 F.3d 368, 373 (2d Cir. 1993); In re Consol. Parlodel Litig., 182 F.R.D. at 444.

         B. Discussion.

         Plaintiff argues that consolidation is appropriate in this instance because there is a commonality of circumstances between the class action plaintiffs in Parsons and himself. Specifically, he states:

[W]hat all Plaintiffs of Parsons v. Ryan and Plaintiff Jolicoeur have in common is the stipulations and settle[ment] agreement afforded prisoners in Parsons v. Ryan. . . Moreover, Plaintiffs have in common is their alleged exposure, as a result of specified statewide ADC Grievance Policy and Practices that govern the overall conditions of healthcare services of inmates in confinement with medical personnel who are the cause of harm to inmates with a substantial continual risk of serious future harm to which the Defendants are allegedly deliberately indifferent. . . Defendant Ryan agreed to affect medical healthcare changes in Parsons v. Ryan settlement agreement measures, yet, made a grievance policy that every inmate must address their administrative remedies with the people who are the very cause of those healthcare violations. In Plaintiff Jolicoeur's case all administrative remedies of protection from suffering needlessly failed Plaintiff.

(Doc. 51 at 8.)

         But, as noted by Defendants, Parsons and this action are entirely distinct and do not involve a common question of law or fact. (See Doc. 47 at 4.) Parsons is a class action dating back nearly six years ago, involving more than 33, 000 inmates, having reached a settlement, and having been in the monitoring phase for nearly three years. This action is not a class action, is in the early litigation stage, is “narrowly tailored to Plaintiff's specific clinical presentation, symptomology, medical history, comorbidities, diagnoses, etc.” (Id. at 4-5.)

         Consolidation of these actions is not convenient and will not result in economy in the judicial administration. The stages and nature of the actions are so widely disparate that consolidation is almost certain to cause prejudice to the parties in both actions, as well as substantial delays, confusion, and inconvenience. Additionally, because the stages and the nature of the actions are so disparate, there is no obvious benefit to the parties of either action.

         What is more, there is little concern that the actions may have inconsistent results. First, in Parsons, no verdict was issued because the action was settled. Second, Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Ryan and Mr. Pratt are based on facts that took place after the settlement agreement in Parsons was signed. Parsons as a class action allows for differences in the ultimate determination of class members' claims owing to their own unique sets of facts.

         In sum, any judicial resources potentially saved by consolidating the cases at this stage do not outweigh the almost certain prejudice and confusion that consolidation would cause. Accordingly, the Court will deny Plaintiff's Motion to Consolidate.

         III. Motion ...

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