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United States v. Volvo Const. Equipment AB

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 13, 2013

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
VOLVO CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT AB, Defendant.

Lori Beth Jonas, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Benjamin Lee Snowden, Julie Ronder Domike, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROYCE C. LAMBERTH, Chief Judge.

The United States brought this action against defendant Volvo Construction Equipment AB (" VCE" ) alleging violations of the Clean Air Act (" CAA" ) and regulations promulgated thereunder. The case was assigned to the undersigned judge as a related case to United States v. Volvo Powertrain, 98-cv-2547. See Pl.'s Notice of Related Case, ECF No. 2. VCE objects to the United States' filing this as a related case. Def.'s Mot. for Reassignment (" Def.'s Objection" ), ECF No. 8. The Court agrees with VCE's objections and will transfer the case to the Calendar Committee for random reassignment. [1]

I. BACKGROUND

Title II of the CAA, as amended 42 U.S.C. § 7521 et seq., and regulations promulgated thereunder set emissions standards for sources of air pollution including internal combustion engines not used in motor vehicles (" nonroad engines" ). EPA has established emission standards for new nonroad engines, varying with model year, size, and type of engine. See 40 C.F.R. § 89.112; see also 42 U.S.C. § 7547(a)(3)-(4). New nonroad engines cannot be sold or imported unless covered by a certificate

Page 68

of conformity issued by EPA verifying that the engine satisfies the appropriate emissions standard. § 7522(a)(1); 40 C.F.R. § 89.1003(a)(1)(i)-(ii). For each model year, a certificate covering the " engine family" must be obtained prior to sale or importation. § 89.105. Manufacturers are prohibited from selling any covered engine that does not bear a permanent emission control information label verifying that the engine conforms to these requirements. 42 U.S.C. §§ 7541(c)(3)(C) & 7522(a)(4)(A); 40 C.F.R. §§ 89.110 & 89.1003(a)(4)(ii).

II. THIS CASE IS NOT RELATED TO VOLVO POWERTRAIN UNDER LOCAL CIVIL RULE 40.5

The United States filed the present action on behalf of EPA pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 7524(a)-(b) and 40 C.F.R. § 89.1006(a)-(b) alleging numerous violations of the CAA's certification and labeling requirements for nonroad engines. See Compl. ¶¶ 29-46, ECF No. 1. The case was assigned to the undersigned judge directly as related to United States v. Volvo Powertrain, 98-cv-2547. See Pl.'s Notice of Related Case, ECF No. 2. VCE objected, seeking to transfer the case to the Calendar Committee for reassignment. Def.'s Objection.

" The general rule governing all new cases filed in this courthouse is that they are to be randomly assigned." Tripp v. Exec. Office of President, 196 F.R.D. 201, 202 (D.D.C.2000) (three judge calendar committee).[2] The " fundamental rationale" of random assignment is " to ensure greater public confidence in the integrity of the judicial process" by " guarantee[ing] fair and equal distribution of cases to all judges, avoid[ing] public perception or appearance of favoritism in assignments, and reduc[ing] opportunities for judge-shopping." Id.

Local Civil Rule 40.5 stands as an exception to the general rule. It provides that, in the interests of judicial economy, " [w]here the existence of a related case in this court is noted at the time ... the complaint is filed, the Clerk shall assign the new case to the judge to whom the oldest related case is assigned." LCvR 40.5(c)(1). New cases are deemed " related" under rule 40.5(a)(3) when (1) " the earliest is still pending on the merits in the District Court" and (2) they either (i) " relate to common property," (ii) " involve common issues of fact," or (iii) " grow out of the same event or transaction." LCvR 40.5(a)(3). And, rule 40.5(a)(4) recognizes cases as " related" where " where a case is dismissed, with prejudice or without, and a second case is filed involving the same parties and relating to the same subject matter." LCvR 40.5(a)(4). " The party requesting related-case designation and seeking to avoid random assignment bears the burden of showing that the cases are related under a provision of Local Civil Rule 40.5." Autumn Journey Hospice, Inc. v. Sebelius, 753 F.Supp.2d 135, 140 (D.D.C.2010) (citing Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rossotti, 2002 WL 31100839, at *1 (D.D.C.)).

As a " general rule," a case settled by consent decree is no longer " pending on the merits." Stewart v. O'Neill, 225 F.Supp.2d 16, 19-20 (D.D.C.2002). " To ...


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