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Estate of Manus v. City of Eupora

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division

August 15, 2014

THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH CONWAY MANUS, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF EUPORA, MISSISSIPPI, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

SHARION AYCOCK, District Judge.

In preparation of the trial of this matter, the Court has been made aware of the following controversies regarding proposed deposition testimony to be admitted into evidence. In the interest of clarity and judicial efficiency, the Court elects to resolve these disputes prior to the commencement of trial. The Court finds as follows:

Plaintiffs' Objections

Pursuant to the Local Uniform Civil Rules of the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Mississippi and the Southern District of Mississippi:

[d]epositions to be introduced in evidence other than for rebuttal or impeachment purposes must be abridged before the pretrial conference or submission of the order, as follows:
(A) The offering party must designate by line and page the portions of the deposition it plans to offer.
(B) The opposing party or parties must designate by line and page any additional portions of the deposition to be offered and must identify distinctly any portions of the deposition previously designated by any other party to which objection is made.
(C) The offering party must thereafter identify distinctly any portions of the deposition previously designated by any other party to which objection is made.
...

L. U. Civ. R. 16(j)(5)(A-C) (emphasis added). Additionally, the Proposed Pretrial Order agreed to by the parties in the case at bar, specifically states:

Counsel must confer, no later than twenty-one days before the commencement of trial, to resolve all controversies concerning all depositions (electronically recorded or otherwise). All controversies not resolved by the parties must be submitted to the trial judge not later than fourteen days before the trial. All objections not submitted within that time are waived.

(emphasis in original).

Nevertheless, it came to the Court's attention on or about August 13, 2014 that the parties may have been under the erroneous assumption that prior notice to the Court of objections to proposed deposition testimony was unnecessary because the instant matter is set to be heard by bench trial. The parties were notified by email on that same day that, regardless of the nonjury nature of the case at bar, any objections to proposed deposition evidence must be submitted prior to trial for consideration by the Court. Acknowledging that the final pretrial conference held before the United States Magistrate Judge had taken place much closer to trial than is usual practice, [1] the Court allowed the parties an additional two days to submit objections for consideration and specifically stated that any objections not made by August 14, 2014 at noon would be deemed waived.[2]

On August 14, 2014, the Court received via email Defendants' specific objections to six of Plaintiffs' proposed depositions, along with marked copies of the relevant portions. The Court also received from Plaintiffs a marked copy of the deposition of Dr. Thomas Cullom and a document titled "Plaintiffs' Objections to Deposition of E. Thomas Cullom, III, M.D, " which listed twenty-three designated portions of Cullom's deposition by page and line number. However, neither the document nor the marked deposition stated any basis for Plaintiffs' objection(s).

Rather than simply deny Plaintiffs' objections as insufficiently stated, the Court directed Plaintiffs to submit specific objections to the designated deposition testimony and again extended the deadline for doing so until 5:00pm that day. The Court made clear that any objections not received by the deadline would not be considered. At approximately 4:40pm, the Court was notified that the internet service at the office of Plaintiffs' counsel had been down for several hours and that it was possible they would miss the Court's deadline. Whereas the Court had already received marked copies of the deposition to which Plaintiffs object, the paralegal for Plaintiffs' counsel was directed to fax the Court Plaintiffs' rationale for their objections before 5:00pm.

After the end of business, at 6:48pm, Plaintiffs' counsel sent the following in an email to the Court:

All of Plaintiff's objections are the same: the selected portions of Dr. Cullom's deposition contains opinions that were not properly disclosed pursuant to Rule 26 and fail to meet the requirements of Rule 702 and Daubert. Plaintiffs stand on the arguments contained in their Motion to Exclude Dr. Cullom's testimony and request the Court hear Plaintiffs' cross-examination portion of Dr. Cullom's deposition and rule based on those arguments.

Whereas Plaintiffs failed to submit specific objections to the proposed deposition testimony of Dr. Cullom until well after the Court's deadline for doing so, the Court finds Plaintiffs' objections to be WAIVED. Further, Plaintiffs did not designate in the pretrial order any portion of Dr. Cullom's deposition that they wished to offer into evidence in response and their request for the Court to "hear Plaintiffs' cross-examination portion of Dr. Cullom's deposition" is insufficient and overly broad and is therefore DENIED.

Defendants' Objections

The Court now turns to the merits of Defendants' objections.

Walter Logan and Lawrence Caradine

Defendants object to the following portions of Walter ...


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