On March 17, 2011, defendant Dana Companies, LLC ("Dana") filed an ex parte application for an order shortening time to hear Dana's motion to compel plaintiff Stonington Insurance Company's ("Stonington") person most knowledgeable to appear for deposition in Sacramento, California; to compel the production of documents by Stonington's insured, Rinehart Oil, Inc., and its employee; and for sanctions. Dckt. No. 22 at 2. Dana contends that good cause supports the application "because additional discovery still needs to be completed to adequately and effectively defend the claims asserted against Dana," and "given that the discovery cut off in this matter is April 1, 2011, there is not enough time to bring a fully noticed motion." Id. Dana therefore requests that the court schedule the motion to compel for hearing on March 23, 2011 at 10:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter, and prior to March 25, 2011. Id.
Dana argues that "[d]espite Dana's attempt to quickly and efficiently resolve the discovery disputes between the parties, Stonington's counsel has continually played games, insisting on scheduling and rescheduling depositions." Id. Dana further contends that "despite Stonington's request that additional time be provided to allow Stonington and its insured, Rinehart Oil, Inc., to further consider whether it would produce the requested documents, Stonington has been unresponsive and elusive." Id. Dana adds that Stonington "failed to sign a stipulation to extend the April 1, 2011 discovery cut-off which counsel had suggested and agreed to in concept," and that "[i]t has become obvious that Stonington's counsel's misstatements of communications with counsel, including emails, and what appears to be an intentional delay to produce documents and to conduct depositions, is for the sole purpose of preventing Dana from obtaining the discovery it needs to adequately defend this action." Id.
Eastern District of California Local Rule 144(e) provides that "[a]pplications to shorten time shall set forth by affidavit of counsel the circumstances claimed to justify the issuance of an order shortening time [and] will not be granted except upon affidavit of counsel showing a satisfactory explanation for the need for the issuance of such an order and for the failure of counsel to obtain a stipulation for the issuance of such an order from other counsel or parties in the action." Even assuming the allegations by Dana, its delay in presenting the issues in an appropriate and timely motion and completing the discovery (as defined in the pretrial scheduling order) in this action given the April 1, 2011 discovery deadline raise serious concerns. In light of that delay the court is reluctant to grant Dana's application to have its motion to compel that discovery heard on shortened time.*fn1 Nonetheless, in light of Dana's representations in the application and in the supporting declarations regarding Stonington's alleged gamesmanship, and in light of the quickly approaching April 1, 2011 discovery completion deadline, the application will be reluctantly granted.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Dana's application for an order shortening time, Dckt. No. 22, is granted.
2. Dana's motion to compel is tentatively set for hearing on Friday, March 25, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom No. 24.
3. The parties are directed to meet and confer in good faith in an attempt to resolve and/or narrow the disputes between them. If the parties are unable to resolve their disputes, Dana shall file a joint statement regarding the discovery disagreement no later than 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Wednesday, March 23, 2011.*fn2 Each party's portion of the joint statement shall be no longer than 15 pages, for a total of 30 pages.*fn3
4. If, upon review of the joint statement, it appears that the parties have not adequately met and conferred, the March 25, 2011 hearing may be continued or vacated and/or sanctions may be imposed. See Local Rule 251(d).