The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge
Through the present action, Plaintiffs allege that their residential insurer, Defendant Allstate Insurance Company ("Allstate") breached its contractual obligation to provide indemnification following a windstorm loss that occurred on or about January 4, 2008. Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Ex Parte Application to Shorten Time on a Motion requesting modification of the Court's Pretrial Scheduling Order.
By Order filed June 2, 2010, the Court previously extended the date for completion of non-expert discovery from May 14, 2010 until July 14, 2010.
The following day, Plaintiff propounded special interrogatories and a request for production of documents. Responses were mailed on July 1, 2010, and according to Plaintiffs' counsel, George Murphy, he notified Defendant of the alleged deficiencies in those responses on July 9, 2010. Thereafter, on July 12, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel and set the matter for hearing before the assigned Magistrate Judge on August 13, 2010. The Magistrate Judge thereafter denied the motion, without prejudice, on grounds that it could not be adjudicated before the applicable discovery deadline of July 14, 2010. Plaintiffs now seek relief from this Court in order to allow the Motion to Compel to be heard given the time constraints associated with the existing July 14 deadline.
Defendant opposes both the order shortening time and the motion itself on grounds that Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate good cause for the "last minute service" of the additional written discovery requests. Defense counsel also asks, however, that if any modification is permitted that all dates currently in place be vacated.
Plaintiffs' counsel was always clear, in requesting an extension of the discovery deadline in the first place, that he wished to not only obtain certain depositions but also to propound additional discovery. He propounded that discovery the next day after he was authorized to do so, and contacted defense counsel as to the purported inadequacy of the responses he received within a week after the responses in question were mailed.
The Court believes that Plaintiffs' counsel was diligent under the circumstances. While the initial discovery extension may in hindsight have not been lengthy enough to accommodate any disagreement, the Court nonetheless finds that good cause has been demonstrated to extend the Pretrial Scheduling Order in order to permit the hearing and adjudication of Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel. Given the showing that Plaintiffs have made, as well as the opposition already submitted on behalf of the defense, the Court finds a noticed motion to be unnecessary and will rule on Plaintiffs' request without further delay on an ex parte basis.
Good cause having been demonstrated, the Court extends the deadline for completion of non-expert discovery in this matter for the sole purpose of allowing the Magistrate Judge to hear and rule upon the previously submitted Motion to Compel (Docket No. 18). Plaintiffs' counsel is directed to refile that Motion to Compel forthwith. Discovery is not being extended for any other purpose, and all other dates shall remain in effect at the present time. Because trial in this matter is not scheduled to commence until March 14, 2011, the very limited extension occasioned by this Order should not make the remaining pretrial deadlines unfeasible.
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