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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division

April 22, 2015



MICHAEL T. PARKER, Magistrate Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel [69] and the parties' Joint Motion to Extend Discovery and Related Deadlines [80]. Having considered the submissions of the parties and the applicable law, the Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel [69] should be DENIED and that the parties' Joint Motion to Extend Discovery and Related Deadlines [80] should be DENIED.

Joint Motion to Extend Discovery and Related Deadlines [80]

On January 31, 2014, the Court entered a Case Management Order [17], which set September 2, 2014, as the discovery deadline. After the parties engaged in discovery for three months, Defendant Community Health Systems, Inc. ("Community Health") filed a Motion to Stay Discovery [43] pending the Court's resolution of its Motion to Dismiss [12]. On May 23, 2014, the Court granted the Motion to Stay Discovery [43]. See Order [46]. On September 22, 2014, the Court granted Community Health's Motion to Dismiss [12] and dismissed Community Health from this action. See Order [47].

On October 22, 2014, the Court entered an Amended Case Management Order [48], which provided the parties more than six months of additional discovery. The Court set May 1, 2015, as the discovery deadline and set May 15, 2015, as the motions deadline. On April 3, 2015, the parties filed their Motion [80] seeking to extend the discovery and motions deadlines by forty-five days.[1]

The trial court is afforded broad discretion to preserve the integrity and purpose of the pretrial order. Geiserman v. MacDonald, 893 F.2d 787, 790 (5th Cir. 1990). Case deadlines can be modified only by order of the Court upon a showing of good cause supported with affidavits, other evidentiary materials, or reference to portions of the record. See Amended Case Management Order [48]; Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The good cause standard "require[s] the movant to show that the deadline cannot be met despite the diligence of the party needing the extension." Puig v. Citibank, N.A., 514 Fed.App'x. 483, 487-88 (5th Cir. 2013) (citation and quotation omitted). In determining whether the movant has met its burden under Rule 16(b)(4), the Court considers four factors: (1) the party's explanation for its failure to meet the deadline, (2) the importance of the requested relief, (3) potential prejudice in granting the relief, and (4) the availability of a continuance to cure such prejudice. S&W Enters., LLC v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., N.A., 315 F.3d 533, 535 (5th Cir. 2003); Geiserman, 893 F.2d at 791.

The parties assert that they have engaged in written discovery and have deposed only two witnesses, but they advise the Court that they intend to depose at least six more witnesses. The parties also intend to file and respond to unspecified discovery motions and schedule a settlement conference or private mediation. According to the parties, the limited availability of counsel and certain witnesses has delayed the discovery process. Unspecified scheduling issues, however, do not justify an extension of the discovery period. The parties were afforded more than nine months of discovery and have failed to specifically explain why they cannot meet the deadlines established in the scheduling order.

Thus, the parties have not provided persuasive justification for an additional forty-five days of discovery. Further, the parties did not establish the importance of additional discovery, nor did they identify what information they hope to gain from an extended discovery period. Additionally, the parties' requested forty-five day extension cannot be granted without affecting the current trial setting, and a continuance is not warranted based on the current record.

A continuance would result in additional delay of this case, which was originally filed on September 30, 2013. See Geiserman, 893 F.2d at 792. "Moreover, a continuance would not deter future dilatory behavior, nor serve to enforce local rules or court imposed scheduling orders." Id. On balance, the factors weigh in favor of denying the Motion [80].

If the parties have specific issues or concerns, however, they are encouraged to contact the chambers of the undersigned to schedule a status conference or scheduling conference.

Motion to Compel [69]

This is an employment discrimination case brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleges that Defendant Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC d/b/a River Region Medical Center ("River Region") terminated Beatrice Chambers because of her alleged disability. On February 20, 2015, Plaintiff served an Amended Request for Entry on Land for Inspection and other Purposes, [2] which requested:

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34(a)(2), Plaintiff, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("Plaintiff" or "EEOC" or the "Commission") hereby requests that Defendant Vicksburg Healthcare, LLC ("Defendant") permit Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Other Purposes to its medical facility located in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and otherwise known as River Region Medical Center (the"Facility"), located at 2100 Highway 61 North, Vicksburg, MS 39180. Such inspection will be for the limited purpose of fact discovery, so the Plaintiff may inspect, examine and observe: the general operations of the Surgical Services Department (the "Department") of River Region Medical Center, the type of equipment and/or instruments commonly in use at the Facility, the layout of the Department, and the feasibility of certain accommodations; collect measurements as to the amount of force required in order to push/pull certain equipment, and observe the day to day job functions and duties of: the Licensed Practical Nurse ("LPN") position, the LPN II position, the Tech position, and the Unit Secretary position.

See Request [69-5]. The inspectors/observers would include Beatrice Chambers, Plaintiff's attorney, and Plaintiff's vocational rehabilitation expert. Id. Plaintiff's request is subject to a number of qualifications and restrictions, including ...

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