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McReynolds v. Matthews

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

August 1, 2017



          Michael T. Parker United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is a flurry of last minute discovery motions [76][77][78][82][85] from the parties as well as a Motion [80] to Extend the Discovery Deadline filed by the Defendants. The Court will first address the Motion [80] for an extension and then the other motions in turn.

         This case has had more than its share of discovery disputes.[1] In response to the inability of the parties to agree on various discovery matters, the Court scheduled a discovery conference and hearing for June 20, 2017, and directed the parties to file motions on any outstanding discovery disputes before the hearing to ensure that this matter proceeded to disposition as scheduled. See Order [53] (emphasis in original order). In other words, the Court set the hearing to avoid the very scenario presented by the current motions-eleventh hour discovery motions and delay. However, no discovery motions were filed by either party, and they informed the Court that the only pending motion was resolved. Accordingly, the conference and hearing were cancelled. See Order [53].

         Defendants filed three Motions [76][77][78] to Compel on July 11, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a Motion [82] to Quash a Subpoena on July 13, 2017, and a Motion [85] to Compel on July 14, 2017. The briefing on the motions was just completed on the eve of the August 1, 2017, discovery deadline. See Replies [108-111].

         Defendants' Motion [80] to Extend the Discovery Deadline

         The Court will first address Defendants' Motion [80] to Extend Discovery deadlines as it will affect the ruling on the other motions. Defendants essentially request that the deadlines be extended so that they can have time to effectuate the Court's rulings on their motions to compel. They claim an extension is justified because Plaintiff delayed the discovery process.

         Local Rule 7(b)(2)(B) provides: “A party must file a discovery motion sufficiently in advance of the discovery deadline to allow response to the motion, ruling by the court and time to effectuate the court's order before the discovery deadline.” Defendants filed their Motions on July 11, 2017 - 21 days before the August 1, 2017, discovery deadline. The Local Rules provide fourteen days for a respondent to file a brief in response to a motion, and seven days for a movant to file a reply. L.U.Civ.R. 7(b)(4). The 21 days between Defendants' Motions and the discovery deadline is not sufficient time to obtain a ruling from the Court, much less to “effectuate the court's order....” L.U.Civ.R. 7(b)(2)(B).

         Furthermore, Rule 16(b) provides that once a scheduling order has been entered, it “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b). The rule “requires a party to show that the deadline[] cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party needing the extension.” Marathon Fin. Ins. Inc., RRG v. Ford Motor Co., 591 F.3d 458, 470 (5th Cir. 2009) (punctuation omitted).[2]

         Defendants suggest Plaintiff has obstructed their discovery efforts throughout the case by delaying in various ways. However, Defendants had a duty to expeditiously follow-up on discovery requests and timely move to compel when necessary. See Landrum v. Conseco Life Ins. Co., No. 1:12-CV-5-HSO-RHW, 2013 WL 12124055, at *2 (S.D.Miss. June 14, 2013). The Case Management Order provided a generous period of nearly eight months to conduct discovery.[3] Less than a month before the current motions were filed, the parties indicated they had no pending discovery issues. In Wells v. Sears Roebuck and Co., this Court stated:

Obviously, problems can arise and the Court should be reasonable in working with the attorneys where necessary. However, if the conduct of a respondent to discovery necessitates a motion to compel, the requester of the discovery must protect himself by timely proceeding with the motion to compel. If he fails to do so, he acts at his own peril. He must not expect the Court to extend discovery and/or the trial date because of the failures of the other party to respond, even if that failure is in bad faith. 203 F.R.D. 240, 241 (S.D.Miss. 2001).

         Plaintiff may very well have been dilatory during the discovery process, but Defendants also postponed seeking certain discovery and in addressing the alleged delays.

         Notably, Defendants do not request an extension to finish up certain limited discovery. Instead, they now seek discovery of wide ranging financial and medical information and the deposition of Plaintiff's attorneys. They request a general extension of the discovery period if the current wave of motions is granted. See [80] at 3 (requesting a general 28-day discovery extension from the time Plaintiff signs executed releases). An eight-month discovery period was more than adequate. The Court does not find good cause to extend the discovery deadline. Accordingly, the Motion [80] will be denied.

         Defendants' Motions [76][77][78] to Compel

         The Defendants filed three discovery Motions on July 11, 2017: a (1) Motion [76] to Compel Execution of Medical Waivers; a (2) Motion [77] to Compel Attorney Depositions; and a (3) Motion [78] to Compel Production of Financial Records. ...

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