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Patriot Rail Corp. v. Sierra Railroad Co.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


June 17, 2010

PATRIOT RAIL CORP., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SIERRA RAILROAD COMPANY, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.

ORDER AND RELATED COUNTERCLAIMS

On June 16, 2010, during a hearing on Patriot Rail Corp.'s motion for a protective order, Sierra Railroad Company filed a motion to compel production of documents and an ex parte application for an order shortening the time for hearing the motion.*fn1 Dckt. No. 89. Upon being made aware of Sierra's application, the court ordered Patriot to file an opposition. Patriot filed an opposition the same day. Dckt. No. 94.

The parties' discovery cut-off date is June 18, 2010. Sierra contends that good cause exists to hear the motion to compel on shortened time because "[g]iven the shortness of time between plaintiff's production of documents . . . and the close of discovery" there is no time for a regularly noticed motion. Sierra does not explain why it failed to serve its discovery requests with sufficient time to file a motion to compel before the discovery deadline.

This lawsuit was filed on December 31, 2008, almost 18 months ago. See Dckt. No. 20. On May 18, 2009, the court issued a scheduling order setting the discovery deadline for April 7, 2010. Dckt. No. 20. On April 5, 2010, the court extended the discovery deadline until May 21, 2010. Dckt. No. 66. On April 29, 2010, the court further extended the discovery deadline until June 18, 2010. Dckt. No. 72.

Sierra did not serve the set of document requests at issue in its motion to compel until May 7, 2010. After Sierra granted Patriot a two-day extension of time, Patriot served their responses to the document requests on June 8, 2010, and served amended responses on June 9, 2010. Despite the impending June 18 discovery deadline, Sierra waited to file the instant application for an order shortening time until June 16, 2010.

Sierra has failed to comply with Local Rule 251(b), which states that a motion "shall not be heard" unless the parties have met and conferred. Sierra makes the bare contention that it has been "unable to meet and confer" because of "the shortness of time between the production of documents and the discovery deadline." But Sierra had Patriot's responses on June 9, and did not file the instant application until June 16. There is no justification for Sierra's failure to meet and confer with Patriot during the intervening week.*fn2

Sierra has not explained why it failed to serve this set of document requests knowing that the discovery deadline left no time for a regularly noticed motion to compel, or why it failed to attempt to meaningfully meet and confer with Patriot's counsel between June 9 and June 16 regarding the sufficiency of the responses. Good cause for granting Sierra's application for an order shortening the time for hearing defendant's motion to compel does not exist.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that:

1. The application for an order shortening time is denied; and

2. The accompanying motion to compel is therefore denied as untimely.*fn3

SO ORDERED.


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