United States District Court, D. New Jersey
BRUCE M. SKOORKA, Plaintiff,
KEAN UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants. BRUCE M. SKOORKA, Plaintiff,
KEAN UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
Michael A. Hammer, United States Magistrate Judge
the Court is a motion by Kean University, The Board of
Trustees of Kean University and the State of New Jersey to
consolidate two matters currently pending before the Court,
Skoorka v. Kean University, et al., 16-3842 (KM)
(MAH) (“the 2016 Action”), and Skoorka v.
Kean University, et al., 17-5484 (KM) (MAH) (“the
2017 Action”), and to stay discovery in the
consolidated cases pending completion of proceedings
initiated in the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law.
Def’s. Mot. To Consolidate Cases and Stay Discovery,
the 2016 Action, Mar. 22, 2019, D.E. 55. Each matter was
brought by the same Plaintiff, Dr. Bruce M. Skoorka, who
opposes both the motion to consolidate and the motion to
stay. Pl’s. Opp’n. Br., the 2016 Action, July 2,
2019, D.E. 66.
Court has considered the motion, opposition, reply,
sur-reply, as well as two additional letters by the parties.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78 and Local
Civil Rule 78.1, the Undersigned has decided this motion on
the papers and without oral argument. For the reasons set
forth below, the motion to consolidate cases and stay
proceedings is granted in part and denied in part.
Bruce M. Skoorka was a tenured associate professor of
Economics and Finance at Kean University beginning in 1996
and continuing through 2015. Opin., the 2017 Action, Mar. 11,
2019, D.E. 38. Beginning in 2007, Dr. Skoorka filed suit in
this federal court against Kean University and other related
entities for discrimination allegedly based on his status as
an individual of Jewish faith, harassment, and retaliation.
Id. at 3-4. There have been several suits filed by
Dr. Skoorka concerning the same overarching claims of
discrimination and retaliation, although at different time
periods during his employment with Kean. Id. Dr.
Skoorka filed an action in 2007,  which was amended and
refiled in 2009, and subsequently consolidated with a second
lawsuit filed by Dr. Skoorka in 2014 against the same
defendants. Id. at 3. The 2009 and 2014 cases remain
pending. Id. at 5.
2016 Action was filed on June 2, 2016 in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York. Compl.,
The 2016 Action, June 2, 2016, D.E. 1. It was then
transferred to this Court sua sponte on June 28,
2016. Order, the 2016 Action, June 28, 2016, D.E. 3. The 2017
Action was filed on March 10, 2017 in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of New York and was
subsequently transferred sua sponte to this Court on
July 21, 2017. Order, the 2017 Action, July 21, 2017, D.E. 4.
In each case, the allegations are nearly identical. See
generally Compl., the 2016 Action, June 2, 2016, D.E. 1;
Compl., the 2017 Action, Apr. 10, 2017, D.E. 1.
2016 Action, Dr. Skoorka alleged six counts against the Kean
University, the State of New Jersey, the Board of Trustees of
Kean University (“the Kean Defendants”), and Kean
Federation of Teachers, the Council of New Jersey State
College Locals, the American Federation of Teachers
(“the Union Defendants”), and several individuals
in their official capacity as Kean University employees and
individually. Compl., the 2016 Action, June 2, 2016, D.E. 1.
Each count alleged unlawful harassment, unlawful employment
practices, discrimination, and retaliation under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A § 2000e et
seq., in addition to claims of harassment and
discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against
Discrimination, the New Jersey Conscientious Employee
Protection Act, the New York City Human Rights Law, and the
New York State Human Rights Law. Id. at 13-24. All
claims in the 2016 Action have since been dismissed against
all Defendants, save for Dr. Skoorka’s Title VII claims
for retaliation against: 1) the Kean Defendants for allegedly
retaliating against him for filing lawsuits and EEOC charges
that claimed religious discrimination; and 2) the Union
Defendants for allegedly retaliating against him by breaching
their duty of fair representation when they failed to press
his grievances against Kean. Order, the 2016 Action, June 26,
2018, D.E. 45.
2017 Action centers on alleged violations under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleging harassment,
discrimination, and retaliation against the same Kean and
Union Defendants as in the previous actions. Compl., the 2017
Action, Apr. 10, 2017, D.E. 1. United States District Judge
Kevin McNulty dismissed the Title VII discrimination claims
against the Kean Defendants and the Title VII retaliation
claims against the Kean Defendants, “except for those
based on nonteaching assignments and unfounded disciplinary
proceedings.” Order, the 2017 Action, Mar. 11, 2019,
D.E. 39. All claims against the Union Defendants in the 2017
Action were also dismissed. Id.
remaining claims in both cases are those for retaliation
under Title VII against: 1) the Kean Defendants based on Dr.
Skoorka’s demotion to a non-teaching position and
disciplinary actions by Kean University against Dr. Skoorka
(in both the 2016 and 2017 Actions); and 2) the Union
Defendants for retaliating against him by breaching their
duty of fair representation when they failed to press his
grievances against Kean (in only the 2016
Action). Order, the 2017 Action, March 11, 2019,
D.E. 39; Order, the 2016 Action, March 19, 2019, D.E. 39. Dr.
Skoorka claims Kean’s actions in denying him a teaching
schedule in 2014 and 2015 were unfounded. See
generally Compl., the 2017 Action, Apr. 10, 2017, D.E.
March 22, 2019, the Kean Defendants moved to consolidate the
2016 and 2017 Actions and stay discovery pending resolution
of four proceedings in the Office of Administrative Law
concerning disciplinary actions by Kean against Dr. Skoorka.
Def’s. Mot. to Consolidate and Stay Discovery, the 2016
Action, Mar. 22, 2019, D.E. 55. The administrative
proceedings concern the same controversy as the 2016 and 2017
Actions and have been consolidated into a single proceeding
which is still pending. Id. The Union Defendants do
not oppose the motion. Letter, the 2017 Action, Mar. 28,
2019, D.E. 43. Dr. Skoorka has filed an opposition to the
motion. Pl’s. Opp’n. Br., the 2016 Action, July
2, 2019, D.E. 66. The Kean Defendants filed their reply brief
on June 7, 2019. Reply Brief, June 7, 2019, D.E. 61.
Plaintiff sought leave to file a sur-reply, which was granted
on June 20, 2019. Order, June 20, 2019, D.E. 64. Plaintiff
filed his sur-reply on June 25, 2019. Letter, June 24, 2019,
D.E. 65. The Kean Defendants filed a letter with the Court on
August 9, 2019 to notify the Court that the hearing dates on
the appeals before the OAL have been moved from September
2019 to February 2020. Letter, Aug. 9, 2019, D.E. 67.
Plaintiff filed a letter with the Court on August 26, 2019,
objecting to Defendants’ August 9, 2019, letter because
they did not seek leave of Court before filing the letter.
Letter, Aug. 26, 2019, D.E. 68.
Analysis: Consolidation and Stay of Discovery
Consolidation of the 2016 and 2017 cases
Kean Defendants proffer that under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 42, the 2016 and 2017 Actions should be
consolidated. Def’s. Mot. To Consolidate and Stay
Discovery, the 2016 Action, Mar. 22, 2019, D.E. 55. Rule 42
provides that a court may consolidate actions before it if
they “involve a common question of law or fact.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 42. The Kean Defendants argue that consolidation
is proper because Judge McNulty’s March 11, 2019
Opinion “establish[es] that Dr. Skoorka’s 2016
and 2017 Cases should be ...