United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED Plaintiff,
DEVON S. JOHNSON, Defendant. CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED Plaintiff,
CHAUNCEY LILES, Defendant. CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED Plaintiff,
SHYLIYAH STREETER, Defendant. DEVON S. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, Defendant. SHYLIYAH STREETER, Plaintiff,
CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, et al., Defendants. CHAUNCEY LILES, Plaintiff,
CX REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, f/k/a CNA REINSURANCE COMPANY LIMITED, et al., Defendants.
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is a Joint Motion for Consolidation of the
six above-listed actions being litigated in the United States
District Court for the District of Maryland. Each of the six
cases seek a determination of the extent of CX Reinsurance
Company Ltd. f/k/a CNA Reinsurance Company Ltd.'s
(“CXRe”) obligations to indemnify its insureds as
to lead-paint judgments held by the individual parties. The
parties jointly request that the cases be consolidated with
Judge Hollander as the presiding judge. No hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). The
Joint Motion, ECF No. 24, shall be granted in part and denied
October 17, 2014, Defendant Devon S. Johnson sued Benjamin
Kirson in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, seeking
damages for injuries resulting from Johnson's lead paint
exposure at a Kirson-owned property insured by CXRe. ECF No.
1 ¶ 18. The Baltimore court entered judgment against
Kirson in the amount of $1, 173, 000. Id. ¶ 20.
Plaintiff CXRe filed this lawsuit on July 31, 2018 against
Defendant Johnson, seeking a declaration of the parties'
rights and obligations under the insurance contracts it
issued to Kirson. ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 1-3. Specifically,
Plaintiff contends that it is responsible only for the
portion of the judgment incurred under the terms of the
policy in effect from August 1, 1998 to August 1, 1999, as
that is the period in which Johnson was first diagnosed with
an unsafe level of lead in his blood. Id.
¶¶ 16-17, 21-22. According to CXRe, this allocation
makes it responsible for only 12/26ths (twelve of the
twenty-six months Johnson resided at the property with lead
paint) of the judgment. Id. ¶ 31.
has filed two other cases in this Court presenting similar
factual situations. See CX Re v. Liles (No.
18-2960); CX Re v. Streeter (No. 18-2962). In
Liles, CXRe is also seeking a declaratory judgment
as to its obligations to indemnify an insured property owner
against whom the defendant secured a judgment due to exposure
to lead paint. There, too, CXRe claims it is only responsible
for one year's worth of the exposure under the terms of
the contract-the year in which Liles was first diagnosed with
an unsafe level of lead in his blood. The same questions are
at issue in Streeter. The Liles judgement
was secured against Stanley Sugarman and Ivy Realty, Inc.,
both CXRe insureds under the same policies. The
Streeter judgment was also secured against Sugarman.
Johnson, Liles, and Streeter all commenced separate actions
against CXRe in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
Maryland. CXRe removed all three actions to federal
court. See Johnson v. CX Re (No. 18-3247);
Streeter v. CX Re (No. 19-416); Liles v. CX
Re (No. 19-417). The parties then filed the instant
joint motion to consolidate the six actions.
Rule of Civil Procedure 42 allows a court to consolidate
separate actions if the actions “involve a common
question of law or fact.” Though a district court has
“broad discretion” to determine whether to
consolidate separate actions under Rule 42, see Rivera v.
Mo's Fisherman Exchange, Inc., No. ELH-15-1427, 2018
WL 513531, at *2 (D. Md. 2018), the court must:
determine ‘whether the specific risks of prejudice and
possible confusion' from consolidation ‘were
overborne by the risk of inconsistent adjudications . . . the
burden on parties, witnesses, and available judicial
resources posed by multiple lawsuits, the length of time
required to conclude multiple suits as against a single one,
and the relative expense to all concerned of the
single-trial, multiple-trial alternatives.
Campbell v. Boston Scientific Corp., 882 F.3d 70, 74
(4th Cir. 2018) (citing Arnold v. E. Air Lines,
Inc., 681 F.2d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 1982)). A court may
choose to consolidate for trial, but may also consolidate
cases only “‘in their pretrial stage' as
‘a desirable administrative technique.'”
Rivera, 2018 WL 513531, at *2.
the six cases share common questions of both law and fact.
The three removed cases are mirrors of the three cases filed
by CXRe in federal court; each case seeks a determination of
CXRe's obligations as to the same three individuals. Each
of the individuals hold judgments against CXRe insureds. Each
of the individuals was exposed to lead paint in a property
owned or operated by a CXRe insured, the period of exposure
was broader than a single insurance policy period, and a
doctor first diagnosed each individual with unsafe levels of
lead during one of the insurance policy periods. Each
insurance policy contains similarly worded operative phrases.
Therefore, each case requires a determination of how, under
Maryland law, an insurance company's obligation to
indemnify a judgment is allocated in factual circumstances
without any legally meaningful distinctions. Inconsistent
adjudications of these questions could leave insurers and
insureds alike uncertain of their risks and obligations under
court can identify no risk of prejudice or confusion from
consolidation, and the parties have jointly moved for this
consolidation. Furthermore, the efficient use of judicial and
private resources to litigate these six actions would best be
served by consolidation. The individual parties in this case
are all represented by three attorneys from the same law
firm. CXRe is represented in all three suits by another two
firms. Because the cases share common questions of law and
fact, no party would be prejudiced, and it will best serve
the interests of judicial economy, the cases will be
consolidated for all purposes.
while the cases will be consolidated, the Court will not
defer to the parties' stated preference that the Court
consolidate these cases before Judge Hollander. Under this
Court's protocols, the lead case will be the first of the
consolidated cases filed, which is No. GJH-18-2355. Thus, I
will preside over the consolidated actions.