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Shepard v. The Cleveland School District

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

December 7, 2018

JASMINE SHEPARD PLAINTIFF
v.
THE CLEVELAND SCHOOL DISTRICT; STEVEN CRADDOCK, in his individual capacity; and DR. JACQUELINE THIGPEN, in her individual and official capacity DEFENDANTS

          ORDER

          DEBRA M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Jasmine Shepard's motion to submit certain documents under seal and her motion for leave to file a response to the defendants' motions for summary judgment “outside of time.”

         I

         Relevant Procedural History

         On September 10, 2018, Jacqueline Thigpen and Steven Craddock each filed a motion for summary judgment.[1] After the Court granted a motion by the Cleveland School District to extend the dispositive motions deadline, [2] the Cleveland School District filed a motion for summary judgment on September 24, 2018.[3]

         Shepard was granted two requested extensions to respond to the motions for summary judgment.[4] However, Shepard failed to respond to the summary judgment motions by the extended deadline of October 14, 2018.

         On October 16, 2018, two days after her response deadline had expired, Shepard filed an initial response to all three motions for summary judgment-though styled as “Plaintiff's Amended Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment”[5]-and numerous exhibits under separate docket entries.[6]

         The next day, on October 17, 2018, Shepard filed numerous additional exhibits under separate docket entries, [7] a 27-page memorandum brief in response to Craddock's summary judgment motion, [8] and what appears to be a supplemental response to all the summary judgment motions-though styled as “Plaintiff's Second Amended Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.”[9]

         On October 18, 2018, Shepard filed a document that, though designated as a memorandum brief on CM/ECF, is in substance a motion for leave “to file the responses to Defendants Motions for Summary Judgment and Memorandums in Support in Opposition to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment outside of time.”[10] The document, which erroneously notes that Shepard filed a response to Craddock's motion on October 16, 2018, [11] includes as an attachment a 31-page memorandum brief in response to the summary judgment motion of Thigpen in her individual capacity.[12] Additionally, in the document, Shepard “requests leave to file her response to her Memorandum in Opposition to the Cleveland School District's Motion for Summary Judgment no later than October 20, 2018.”[13]

         The following day, on October 19, 2018, Shepard filed a motion to submit seven documents under seal.[14] On October 20, 2018, Shepard filed a 33-page memorandum brief in opposition to the Cleveland School District's summary judgment motion and to the motion for summary judgment of Thigpen in her official capacity.[15] The same day, Shepard filed a motion for leave to file a response to the motions for summary judgment “outside of time, ”[16] which is a duplicate of the motion for leave she filed on October 18, and which includes as an attachment the 33-page memorandum brief she filed earlier that day.[17]

         On October 22, 2018, Craddock filed a reply in support of his summary judgment motion[18]and Thigpen filed a response opposing Shepard's October 18 motion for leave.[19] In her response, Thigpen requests that “if the Court allows Plaintiff to file her response outside of time … the Court clarify that [her] time to file a rebuttal in support of her motion [for summary judgment] will not begin to run until Plaintiff's response is properly filed on the docket.”[20] A week later, the Cleveland School District filed a reply in support of its motion for summary judgment.[21]

         II

         Analysis

         A.

         Motion for Leave to File “Outside of Time”

         In her motion for leave, [22] Shepard represents that she failed to file responses to the motions for summary judgment by the October 14, 2018, deadline due to her counsel's “health concerns and her need to adequately brief the issues raised by the defendants in their motions.” Doc. #152 at 2.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(A) provides that, “for good cause, ” a court may extend a deadline before the original deadline or its extension expires. A party seeking an after-the-fact extension, however, bears the heavier burden of demonstrating both “good cause” and “excusable neglect.” See Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(b)(1)(B) (“[T]he court may, for good cause, extend the time … on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.”).[23]

         Excusable neglect is an “elastic concept” and its determination is “at bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party's omission.” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 392, 395 (1993). Relevant factors to the excusable neglect inquiry include “the danger of prejudice to the non-movant, the length of the delay and its potential impact on the judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith.” Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Conn., 465 F.3d 156, 161 n.8 (5th Cir. 2006) (alterations omitted). “Even if good cause and excusable neglect are shown, it nonetheless remains a question of the court's discretion whether to grant any motion to extend time under Rule 6(b).” McCarty v. Thaler, 376 Fed.Appx. 442, 443-44 (5th Cir. 2010).

         Craddock[24] and Thigpen, by merely asserting that Shepard's untimely response has delayed resolution of this matter (which is attendant to all such motions), have not demonstrated that they have been prejudiced. Of course, they may face “the prejudice of being deprived of better odds at prevailing on summary judgment. However, that is not a sufficient basis to deny Plaintiff's request.” Vanorden v. Bannock Cty., No. 4:14-CV-00303, ...


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