(a)Consolidation. When actions involving a commonquestion of law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a jointhearing or trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it mayorder all the actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerningproceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.
(a)(1) A motion to consolidatecases shall be heard by the judge assigned to the first case filed. Notice of amotion to consolidate cases shall be given to all parties in each case. Theorder denying or granting the motion shall be filed in each case.
(a)(2) If a motion to consolidateis granted, the case number of the first case filed shall be used for allsubsequent papers and the case shall be heard by the judge assigned to thefirst case. The presiding judge may assign the case to another judge for goodcause.
(b)Separate trials. The court in furtherance ofconvenience or to avoid prejudice may order a separate trial of any claim,cross claim, counterclaim, or third party claim, or of any separate issue or ofany number of claims, cross claims, counterclaims, third party claims, orissues.