Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Request For Consolidation of Cases "For All Purposes" Denied Where Each Action Sought Different Remedy

In the case of Montage Mountain Resorts, L.P. v. PA American Water Company, No. 20-CV-4926 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Jan. 7, 2022 Nealon, J.), the court addressed a Motion by the Plaintiff seeking to consolidate two (2) related lawsuits “for all purposes.” This request was opposed by the Defendant.

The courted noted that the Plaintiff ski resort initially commenced a tort action against a water utility company seeking compensatory and punitive damages based upon the utility’s alleged discharge of pellets from its water treatment facility into the reservoir which also served as the water source for the resort’s snowmaking systems. The resort asserted that the improperly released pallets clogged its snowmaking machinery which resulted in substantial repair costs, lost snowmaking capacity, closed ski trails due to inadequate snow, and diminished ski season revenue.

The ski resort later instituted a second action against the utility company under the Clean Streams Law in which the ski resort requested the abatement of an alleged public nuisance allegedly created by the utility company’s alleged discharge or pollution.

Before the court in this case was the ski resort’s Motion to Consolidate its two (2) lawsuits “for all purposes.”

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas reviewed the Motion under the applicable standards set forth pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 213(a), regarding consolidation of actions. 

The court noted that matters may be consolidated where they involve common questions of law or fact or arise from the same occurrence. The court found that this standard was met by the allegations in the two (2) lawsuits at issue in this case. The court also noted that consolidation of the matters would reduce the parties’ litigation expenses, would avoid duplicate trials, and would promote judicial economy.

However, the court rejected the request for a “complete consolidation” of the separate actions “for all purposes” as there was not a complete identity of parties, claims, defenses, and issues as required by the law. 

The court also noted that the Plaintiff was seeking different relief in each action in that the first tort action sought a monetary relief from a jury, whereas the second nuisance action sought an abatement remedy from a judge and did not require a finding of negligent fault and which involved different elements of proof.

Given that the claims, defenses, and legal issues in both matters were not identical, the request for a complete consolidation for all purposes was denied.

In the end, the court granted the resort’s request to consolidate the actions for purposes of discovery and trial but noted that each action would retain its separate identity and require its own judgment.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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