United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. Crabtree United States District Judge
matter comes before the court on defendants' Motion to
Change Judge (Doc. 130). As explained more fully below, the
court grants the motion. And the court directs the Clerk of
the Court to reassign this case to the Honorable Carlos
allegations in this lawsuit arise from a series of lending
transactions made by plaintiff GemCap Lending I, LLC
(“GemCap”) to Pertl Ranch LLC, Pertl Ranch
Feeders, LLC, and Outlaw Farms & Trucking, LLC
(collectively, “borrowers”). None of the
defendants in this lawsuit are borrowers or guarantors of the
loans. Instead, defendants are third parties, who plaintiff
GemCap alleges, deprived it of the collateral used to secure
GemCap's loans to borrowers. Generally, GemCap asserts
various tort claims against defendants for allegedly
misrepresenting facts, cross-collateralizing assets without
notifying GemCap, and selling assets without notifying
GemCap filed this lawsuit in California state court. Doc.
1-1. Defendants removed the action to the Central District of
California. Doc. 1. Then, on August 16, 2019, the California
federal court transferred the case to this District. Doc.
transfer, defendants filed a “Motion to Change
Judge.” Doc. 130. Defendants explain in their motion
that another judge in our court-Judge Murguia-is presiding
over a receivership action that GemCap filed against the
borrowers on November 19, 2018 (“the Receivership
Action”). Doc. 130 at 1; see also Compl.,
GemCap Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch, LLC, No.
18-2622-CM-JPO (D. Kan. Nov. 19, 2018), ECF 1. On March 28,
2019, BancCentral, National Association
(“BancCentral”) filed an Intervenor Complaint in
the Receivership Action. See Compl. in Intervention
for Monetary and Declaratory J. and Foreclose of Real
Property, GemCap Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch, LLC,
No. 18-2622-CM-JPO (D. Kan. Mar. 28, 2019), ECF 118.
BancCentral also is a defendant in this lawsuit.
BancCentral's Intervenor Complaint seeks, among other
things, (1) a money judgment on outstanding loans and
guarantees, (2) a declaratory judgment declaring that
BancCentral has first priority interest in certain property,
and (3) foreclosure of BancCentral's mortgage on certain
real property. Id. at 1-2.
11, 2019, BancCentral filed a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment in the Receivership Action. Mot. for Partial Summ.
J., GemCap Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch, LLC, No.
18-2622-CM-JPO (D. Kan. July 11, 2019), ECF 162. GemCap
opposes the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Mem. in
Opp'n to BancCentral, National Association's Mot. for
Partial Summ. J., GemCap Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch,
LLC, No. 18-2622-CM-JPO (D. Kan. Sept. 3, 2019), ECF
187. GemCap's Opposition twice discusses this
lawsuit-describing it as a lawsuit filed against BancCentral
and others asserting tort claims for allegedly unlawful
behavior that has “adversely affected GemCap's
interests relating to GemCap's loans . . . .”
Id. at 3; see also Id. at 19. Judge Murguia
has not yet ruled the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment in
the Receivership Action.
Motion for Change of Judge asks the court to transfer this
case to Judge Murguia because, defendants contend, this
lawsuit and the Receivership Action involve some of the same
parties and present overlapping questions of law and fact.
Thus, defendants assert, transferring the case to Judge
Murguia will promote judicial efficiency by having one judge,
who is already familiar with the case, decide the overlapping
issues. Also, defendants contend, transfer will avoid a risk
of inconsistent rulings on the same issues.
cite no procedural rule that authorizes them to ask the court
to transfer the case to another judge in this district.
Indeed, plaintiff GemCap opposes defendants' motion by
arguing that “it does not rely on any accepted
statutory or rule-based reason for a change of judge.”
Doc. 140 at 1. But, defendants assert, the court has
authority to transfer cases to another judge under its
“inherent . . . power to control its docket.”
Barton Solvents, Inc. v. Sw. Petro-Chem, Inc., 836
F.Supp. 757, 763 (D. Kan. 1993). A court has discretion to
use this power “for the purpose of ‘economy of
time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for
litigants.'” Id. (quoting Landis v. N.
Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)).
not cited by defendants, our local rule, D. Kan. Rule 40.1,
allows a judge to “transfer [a] case to another judge
who consents to such transfer” when the judge has
“the approval of the chief judge” and a transfer
is “[i]n the interest of justice or to further the
efficient disposition of the business of the court.” D.
Kan. Rule 40.1. Also, the court recognizes Rule 1 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure directs that the rules
“should be construed, administered, and employed by the
court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and
inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. Here, the court finds that
transfer of this case to Judge Murguia is appropriate under
D. Kan. Rule 40.1 because it is in the interest of justice
and will promote the efficient disposition of the court's
business. Also, a transfer will serve the aims of
Rule 1 by promoting judicial efficiency and preserving
correctly assert that this lawsuit and the Receivership
Action involve overlapping issues of law and fact. Even
plaintiff GemCap concedes that the two lawsuits are
“related” and “touch upon some of the
[same] issues.” Doc. 140 at 2, 3. But, GemCap argues,
the questions of law and fact in this case are not so related
to justify a transfer to Judge Murguia. The court
respectfully disagrees. Both cases arise from loans that
GemCap made to the borrowers. In this case, plaintiff GemCap
asserts that BancCentral and the other defendants conspired
to defraud GemCap and engaged in other allegedly unlawful
conduct designed to deprive GemCap of the collateral used to
secure the loans to the borrowers. See generally
Doc. 1-1. In the Receivership Action, GemCap asserts the same
arguments as affirmative defenses to BancCentral's
Intervenor Complaint. See Answer to BancCentral,
National Association's Compl. in Intervention, GemCap
Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch, LLC, No. 18-2622-CM-JPO
(D. Kan. Apr. 26, 2019), ECF 137 at 16-17 (asserting as
affirmative defenses that GemCap's claims fail because of
BancCentral's bad faith actions, misrepresentations, and
inequitable conduct); see also Mot. for Partial
Summ. J., GemCap Lending I, LLC v. Pertl Ranch, LLC,
No. 18-2622-CM-JPO (D. Kan. Sept. 3, 2019), ECF 187 at 10,
15, 18, 20-21, 23.
the two cases involve similar and overlapping issues, the
court finds that transferring the case to Judge Murguia is in
the interests of justice. A transfer will allow the same
judicial officer to decide the overlapping issues of law and
fact asserted in the two lawsuits, thereby promoting judicial
efficiency and avoiding a risk of inconsistent rulings. Also,
transfer will defray the costs the parties will incur
litigating the same issues before two different judges.
similar circumstances, our court has granted motions to
transfer a case to another judge in the district when a
transfer will promote judicial efficiency. See,
e.g., Stoddard v. Oxy USA, Inc., No.
17-1067-JTM, 2017 WL 7370973, at *1 (D. Kan. Apr. 18, 2017)
(transferring case to Judge Melgren because he was presiding
over a case involving the same issues and same counsel, and
thus, “judicial economy would be promoted by having a
single judge resolve the issues surrounding such similar
issues”); Atkins v. Heavy Petroleum Partners,
LLC, No. 14-4016-DDC-KGG, 2014 WL 3854215, at *3-4 (D.
Kan. Aug. 6, 2014) (transferring case to Judge Melgren
because he had presided over an earlier lawsuit with related
facts, and thus, transfer was appropriate “in the
interests of justice”); ConAgra Foods, Inc. v.
Americold Logistics, LLC, No. 13-2064-RDR, 2013 WL
12419320, at *1 (D. Kan. Mar. 21, 2013) (granting motion to
transfer case to Judge Lungstrum because the case involved
claims that arose from settlement agreements in earlier cases
that Judge Lungstrum had presided over, and thus, Judge
Lungstrum had “considerable knowledge of the
circumstances surrounding the history of this case and the
prior resolution [of the earlier cases]”); A.H.L.
Inc. of Del. v. Star Ins. Co., No. ...