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Jacob Winding v. Allstate Insurance Company

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


May 2, 2011

JACOB WINDING,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

This matter is before the court on plaintiff Jacob Winding's ("plaintiff") motion for leave to reopen discovery and extend the discovery cut-off dates in order to propound written discovery and conduct depositions relating to newly asserted affirmative defenses and a counterclaim. Defendant Allstate Insurance Company ("defendant") opposes the motion. For the reasons set forth below,*fn1 plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

This litigation arises out of a claim filed by plaintiff in state court seeking relief from a dispute over an insurance claim. After plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint alleging claims for declaratory relief, breach of contract, fraud, and insurer bad faith, defendant filed its Answer and removed the case to this court based on diversity jurisdiction. On April 7, 2010, the court entered its Pretrial Scheduling Order ("PSO"), providing, inter alia, that (1) no further amendments to pleadings is permitted without leave of court, good cause having been shown; and (2) discovery shall be completed by April 15, 2011.

On January 19, 2011, defendant filed a motion to amend its answer to add additional affirmative defenses and a counterclaim based upon evidence revealed during discovery. Plaintiff opposed the motion. On March 3, 2011, the court granted defendant's motion. Defendant filed its First Amended Answer and counterclaim on March 7, 2011. On March 15, 2011, plaintiff filed a Motion for Relief from Discovery Cut-Off Date, seeking to extend the discovery cut-off date for ninety (90) days, till July 15, 2011, in order to conduct discovery relating to defendant's newly asserted affirmative defenses and counterclaim.

Orders entered before the final pretrial conference may be modified "only for good cause." Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b). The good cause requirement of Rule 16 primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment to the pretrial scheduling order. The pretrial scheduling order can only be modified "if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension." Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992)

When evaluating whether a party was diligent, the Ninth Circuit has determined that "the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for modification." Id. at 610. The moving party may establish good cause by showing "(1) that [he or she] was diligent in assisting the court in creating a workable Rule 16 order; (2) that [his or her] noncompliance with a Rule 16 deadline occurred or will occur, notwithstanding [his or her] diligent efforts to comply, because of the development of matters which could not have been reasonably foreseen or anticipated at the time of the Rule 16 scheduling conference; and (3) that [he or she] was diligent in seeking amendment of the Rule 16 order, once it became apparent that [he or she] could not comply with the order." Jackson v. Laureate, Inc., 186 F.R.D. 605, 608 (E.D. Cal. 1999)(citations omitted).

In this case, plaintiff has demonstrated good cause to reopen discovery and to extend the discovery deadlines to conduct additional discovery relating to defendant's newly asserted affirmative defenses and counterclaim. First, there is no dispute that plaintiff has been diligent in assisting the court in creating a workable Rule 16 order. Second, defendant only raised the affirmative defenses and counterclaim at issue in the First Amended Answer filed on March 7, 2011. Plaintiff moved to extend discovery on March 15, 2011. As such, the court concludes that plaintiff was diligent in discovering requesting amendment to the PSO under the circumstances of this case.

Therefore, plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is GRANTED. All discovery shall be completed by July 15, 2011. Expert designations and disclosures shall be made no later September 16, 2011. Supplemental expert disclosures shall be made by October 7, 2011. All dispositive motions shall be heard no later than January 13, 2012. All other dates remain unchanged.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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