UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
April 18, 2012
CITY OF COALINGA, CHIEF CAL MINOR, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, CAPTAIN DANIEL MINOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER GRANTING EX PARTE MOTION TO EXTEND EXPERT DISCOVERY CUTOFF (Doc. 31)
GOOD CAUSE APPEARING, Plaintiff's ex parte motion to extend the expert discovery cutoff from April 23, 2012 is GRANTED to and through July 6, 2012 for purposes of taking/completing the deposition of Plaintiff's expert Robert Feliciano only (Doc 31).
All other deadline dates as set forth in the Scheduling Conference Order filed on July 1, 2011 (Doc. 14) and/or those amended by Judge O'Neill on October 27, 2011 (Doc. 29) remain in full force and effect.*fn1
Having read and reviewed Plaintiff's ex parte motion and affidavit (Doc. 31), as well as Defendant City of Coalinga's and Chief Cal Minor's notice of non-opposition to Plaintiff's ex parte request for limited continuance of expert discovery for the purpose of taking Plaintiff's expert Robert Feliciano's deposition only, it is unfortunate and, indeed, frustrating that both parties had to take up the Court's time with a matter that could have been easily addressed in a telephonic conference call as suggested and directed by the Scheduling Conference Order (Doc. 14, page 11) as follows:
Regarding discovery disputes, no written discovery motions shall be filed without the prior approval of the assigned Magistrate Judge. A party with a discovery dispute must first confer with the opposing party in a good faith effort to resolve by agreement the issues in dispute. If that good faith effort is unsuccessful, the moving party shall then seek a prompt hearing with the assigned Magistrate Judge by telephone or in person. If the hearing is to be conducted by telephone, the Courtroom Deputy Clerk will inform counsel of the date and time of the hearing, and it shall be the responsibility of the moving party to initiate the telephonic conference call to chambers. The recording of telephonic hearings or conferences with the Court is prohibited, except with prior permission of the Court. The request for a hearing with a judicial officer carries with it a professional representation by the attorney that a conference has taken place and that s/he has made a good faith effort to resolve the dispute.
Inasmuch as both/all counsel involved in this lawsuit know or certainly should have heard or learned by now that the Eastern District of California has the highest weighted caseload per district court judge in the United States, the reasons for this directive in the Scheduling Conference Order is or should be obvious. And, since the undersigned is the magistrate judge who scheduled this case with counsel on June 28, 2011, she is quite positive she reminded nee admonished the attorneys during that conference that discovery disputes are to be addressed informally, preferable telephonically, prior to the filing of any written motions. This obligation belongs with any and all counsel regardless of who is seeking relief of court and/or who is opposing such relief. Therefore, both Attorneys Hurt and Sain are responsible for this unnecessary expenditure of the Court's time.
Further, Defendants' counsel's response to mis-statements by Plaintiff's counsel, pages 6-11, including multi-page copies of emails, was wholly unnecessary to the resolution of this relatively minor discovery problem or disagreement. Again, had the Court been on the telephone with counsel, all of these misunderstandings, misinterpretations or even shots-across-thebow could have been ironed out in a matter of a few minutes. Attorneys disagree, miss-hear, misinterpret, or, sadly, are rude to one another often. Regardless, this was not such a monumental disagreement nor characterization of substantive prevarication that it warranted the Court's involvement in the testy email chain of counsel.
Lastly, and most importantly, the courts are dedicated to the resolutions of lawsuits on their merits. When arbitrating a discovery dispute such as that set forth here, the Court looks to prejudice to other parties, to maintaining the progress and rhythm of the discovery process, and to the obligation of bringing the parties to resolution through settlement or by trial in a timely manner. Deposing one expert witness beyond the expert discovery cut-off when it does not appear as though it will jeopardize the summary judgment deadlines nor the pre-trial and trial schedules prejudices no one, particularly when there was, in essence, no opposition.
IT IS SO ORDERED.