The Department of Labor filed a motion Friday requesting that the three lawsuits pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging DOL’s fiduciary rule be consolidated.
The plaintiffs agreed to consolidation in a Monday response, but insisted that each of the cases be allowed to “retain their separate identities” and move forward “expeditiously.”
DOL stated in its Friday motion that consolidation is appropriate because all three actions “challenge the same agency rulemaking and present substantially the same legal issues,” and that such consolidation would avoid duplicative proceedings.
While both sides support consolidation, a judge must grant it.
Meanwhile, the full House plans to vote Wednesday morning on overriding President Obama’s June 8 veto of H.J. Res. 88, a resolution under the Congressional Review Act that would nullify the DOL’s final conflict of interest rule. The veto override would need a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate.
The nine plaintiffs in the first suit, filed June 2 in the Texas district, include the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Financial Services Institute, the Financial Services Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Insured Retirement Institute and four Texas groups, including the Texas Association of Business.
The nine groups are represented by former DOL solicitor Eugene Scalia, who’s now a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington office.
The second suit was filed June 8 by American Council of Life Insurers along with the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and the third suit was filed on June 9 by the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council.
The plaintiffs emphasized in their Monday brief “the importance that the cases move expeditiously to resolution,” adding that the parties will soon submit a “joint proposed schedule for prompt summary-judgment briefing and oral argument following consolidation.”
Indeed, Scalia said on a June 2 call with reporters that the plaintiffs would ask the court “to proceed quickly,” given that the first deadline to comply with DOL’s rule is April 10, 2017.
The Indexed Annuity Leadership Council, comprising life insurers, filed its lawsuit on June 9.