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Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Ghent

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

March 6, 2018

SUNBELT RENTALS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
JEREMY GHENT, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant's, Jeremy Ghent, Motion to Consolidate this case with Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Vortex Companies, LLC et al, No. 3:18-cv-00018-RJC-DSC. (Doc. No. 38). Plaintiff, Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., opposes consolidation. Having fully considered the record, including the parties' briefs (Docs. Nos. 39, 45, 46), the Court GRANTS the motion for the following reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Jeremy Ghent, Plaintiff filed its Complaint for Injunctive Relief and Damages against Defendant on October 6, 2017, alleging breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation relating to Ghent's alleged violation of his Employment Agreement with Sunbelt and alleged disclosure of proprietary information to his new employer, Vortex Turnkey Solutions, Inc. (Doc. No. 1). On October 24, 2017, this Court issued an order enjoining Defendant from engaging in or performing acts in violation of the non-competition and non-solicitation provisions of his Employment Agreement. (Doc. No. 28).

         In Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Vortex Companies, LLC et al, (the “Related Action”) Sunbelt filed an action against Vortex Companies, LLC and Vortex Turnkey Solutions, LLC (collectively, “Vortex”) on January 10, 2018, alleging federal and state claims for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with contract, and violations of North Carolina's Unfair Trade Practices Act stemming from Vortex's employment of Ghent and alleged acceptance of Sunbelt's proprietary information from Ghent.

         Defendant filed its Motion to Consolidate this case with Sunbelt Rentals, Inc. v. Vortex Companies, LLC et al, No. 3:18-cv-00018-RJC-DSC (Doc. No. 38) on February 1, 2018.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the Court to consolidate several actions into a single proceeding:

(a) Consolidation. If actions before the court involve a common question of law or fact, the court may:
(1) join for hearing or trial any or all matters at issue in the actions;
(2) consolidate the actions; or
(3) issue any other orders to avoid unnecessary cost or delay.
(b) Separate Trials. For convenience, to avoid prejudice, or to expedite and economize, the court may order a separate trial of one or more separate issues, claims, crossclaims, counterclaims, or third party claims. When ordering a separate trial, the court must preserve any federal right to a jury trial.

         Courts have broad discretion in determining whether to consolidate. A/S Ludwig MowincklesRederi v. Tidewater Const. Co., 559 F.2d 928, 933 (4th Cir. 1977). Consolidation does not merge the suits into a single cause or change the rights of the parties. Intown Properties Mgmt. Inc. v. Wheaton Van Lines, 271 F.3d 164, 168 (4th Cir. 2001). In determining whether to consolidate a case, the Court considers several factors including: (1) the risk of prejudice and confusion, (2) the burden on the ...


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