MIAMI — A U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida judge has partially consolidated two separate complaints against a handgun manufacturer.
In a Feb. 9 order, Judge Edwin Torres denied in part and granted in part a motion to consolidate filed by handgun manufacturer Braztech International L.C. for two separate complaints brought against the company. The two cases are William Burrow and Oma Louise Burrow v. Forjas Taurus and Braztech International and Suzanne M. Bedwell and Ernest D. Bedwell for the negligent design of the Rossi-brand .357 Magnum revolver and a .38 Special.
The Burrow couple filed their proposed class action complaint in September 2016, arguing several Braztech handguns are prone to firing when dropped. Four months later the Bedwell couple filed a class action complaint after their son was struck in the leg by a bullet when a Braztech revolver fell from a holster and shot out a round of ammunition.
After the incident, the Bedwell couple bought three more Rossi .357 revolvers and had them tested to prove a defect, according to background information in the motion to consolidate. When one of the three accidentally misfired, the couple filed a class action suit against Braztech.
Before considering consolidation, Torres said Burrow’s motion to intervene based on four requirements under Rule 24 (a) that had to be reviewed: whether “their motion is timely; they have an interest relating to the property or transaction underlying Bedwell; they are situated in a way that the disposition of Bedwell may impede or impair their ability to protect their interests; and the original parties are inadequate to protect their interests,” according to the motion.
After citing a few precedent cases including, Dickstein v. Able Telcom Holding Corp., Tech. Training Assocs., Inc. v. Buccaneers Ltd. P’ship and Clark v. Putnam County, Burrow’s motion to intervene was granted.
“Because we find that the Burrow Plaintiffs have satisfied all of the requirements under Rule 24(a)(2), we will consider their arguments – as well as the arguments of the Bedwell Plaintiffs – in opposition to Braztech’s motion to consolidate,” Judge Torres wrote in the motion.
Braztech claims it is in the best interest of all to consolidate the two cases since they both include .357 Rossi revolver, as well as a .38 Special, and “both cases involve common questions of law and fact such as the allegations that the revolvers contain a defective hammer-block mechanism,” according to the motion.
“Braztech further believes that consolidation will save significant time and resources, promote judicial economy, and prevent needless repetition of evidence, procedures, and trial issues,” Judge Torres writes in the motion, adding Braztech argues neither Burrow or Bedwell can argue bias both complaints were combined.
“Because both cases involve similar issues, similar discovery, an analysis of the same data, and resolution of the same factual issues, Braztech contends that consolidation is more than appropriate in this case,” Judge Torres wrote in the motion.
However, the Burrow and Bedwell couples did not agree.
While the Bedwells argued “Braztech failed to meet its burden to demonstrate that consolidation was appropriate and that it would be disingenuous and prejudicial if consolidation were ordered,” according to the motion, the Burrows argued based on the first-to-file rule “the Bedwell action be dismissed without prejudice because the Burrow case can provide full and adequate relief to all of the members of any proposed class,” according to the motion.
But the couples changed their argument in 2017 and agreed on consolidation that must include “the filing of a master complaint, the stay of the personal injury claims in the Bedwell case, a modified Scheduling Order and the appointment of co-lead counsel, according to the motion.
But Braztech did not agree.
Though Braztech had no issue with Bedwell’s personal claims stay or a modified Scheduling order, Braztech did not agree with the appointment of an interim counsel due to no actual class certification and the possibility of the Bedwells bringing in new discovery over a third-party manufacturer they used when buying the gun from Braztech.
Torres directed a “joint status report of how much additional time is needed to accommodate the merger of these two cases,” according to the motion.