Similarity of Parties Is No Excuse to Consolidate

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A federal judge refused to consolidate two cases involving a failed adoption attempt, one against an agency that couples say violated federal anti-racketeering law and an earlier lawsuit claiming that the agency was defamed on adoption-orientated websites.
     “While the two actions may have originated from similar transactions, they involve different legal questions arising from separate occurrences, and thus are inappropriate for consolidation,” U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker wrote.
     Main Street Adoptions brought the first case in 2009, alleging defamation and trade libel. It said that the defendants’ defamatory comments harmed its reputation so greatly that it was forced to cease operations.
     The complaint named as defendants two individuals, two companies and two couples, including Melissa and Guy Turi.
     The Turis are one of five couples who sued Main Street this past June for alleged mail fraud, wire fraud and violated confidentiality agreements. The couples each claim that the agency preyed on their vulnerabilities as they tried to adopt children from Guatemala.
     On Friday, Judge Tucker rejected the Turis’ motion to consolidate both cases on the basis of allegedly similar witnesses and factual issues.
     “The defendants overstate the similarities between the two actions,” Tucker wrote.
     While the couples’ RICO case involves 10 plaintiffs and 11 counts, the agency’s libel case involves eight plaintiffs and six counts, according to the court.
     “It is clear that the two actions involve very different legal issues,” Tucker wrote.
     The judge added that she was not convinced that the RICO violations are relevant to the Turis’ defense in the libel case.
     “Consolidation is not appropriate for purposes of establishing a defense,” Tucker wrote. “Consolidation is permitted as a matter of convenience and economy for the court.”
     The five-page decision also says that consolidation would “create a likelihood of prejudice by confusing the issues.”
     Main Street Adoptions was also sued by six couples for fraud in Detroit three years ago.

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