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Harara v. ConocoPhillips Co.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


April 4, 2005

MARWAN AHMED HARARA, PLAINTIFF(S),
v.
CONOCOPHILLIPS COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANT(S).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bernard Zimmerman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND HIS ADMISSIONS

Now before me is plaintiff's motion to amend his admissions. Where a party responds to requests for admissions after the required date, the court may grant relief to the responding party if amendment of the admissions will both serve the presentation of the case on the merits and not prejudice the requesting party. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(b); Sonoda v. Cabrera, 255 F.3d 1035, 1040 (9th Cir. 2001); Rabil v. Swafford, 128 F.R.D. 1, 3 (D.D.C. 1989). While plaintiff served his response to defendant's first set of requests for admission on February 14, 2005, five days after the deadline, he claims that he left a telephone message with defense counsel on February 9, 2005, in which he requested an extension. Defendant disputes that defense counsel received the message, but does not contest that it received plaintiff's response to its first set of requests for admission.

Were I to deny amendment and deem the requests admitted, the effect of the admissions would be to practically eliminate any presentation on the merits of the majority of the issues in this case. Such a result would be unduly harsh, especially where, as here, plaintiff's response was less than one week late and he has submitted some evidence that he requested an extension to respond to the requests at issue. See Declaration of Marwan A. Harara in Support of His Mot. to Amend His Responses to Conoco's Requests for Admissions ("Harara Decl.") ¶¶4-7, Ex. 3,5. Plaintiff also appears to have requested to serve his response after the weekend so that he would have sufficient time to respond to defendant's interrogatories and requests for production of documents, which were due that day; to prepare his settlement conference statement; and to conduct a deposition scheduled for the following day. See Harara Decl. ¶4. Defendant has not submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate that amendment will prejudice its case. Having carefully reviewed the parties' papers and supporting declarations, and based on the factual and legal issues presented, the current status of this case, and the long history of contentious and ongoing disputes between the parties throughout the litigation, I find that allowing plaintiff to amend his requests will serve the presentation of the case on the merits and will not prejudice defendant.

For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED, and plaintiff's response to defendant's first set of requests for admission stands. See Decl. of Adam Friedenberg in Support of ConocoPhillips Company's Opp. to Pltf's Mot. to Amend Admissions, Ex. B. Defendant has not demonstrated that additional discovery regarding the requests is necessary, and defendant's request to take additional discovery is therefore DENIED.

20050404

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