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Souphasith v. ITT Hartford Life & Annuity Insurance Co.

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 26, 2016

NIDA SOUPHASITH, Plaintiff,
v.
ITT HARTFORD LIFE & ANNUITY INSURANCE COMPANY and DOES 1-50, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S EX PARTE APPLICATION AND MODIFYING THE SCHEDULING ORDER TO EXTEND NON-EXPERT DISCOVERY DEADLINE (DOCKET NO. 13)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 14, 2016, Plaintiff Nida Souphasith (“Plaintiff”) filed an ex parte application to modify the Court’s scheduling order and extend the non-expert discovery deadline to accommodate the production of documents by a third party, The Prudential Insurance Company of America (“Prudential”), after entry of a protective order. (Doc. 13.) On July 19, 2016, Defendant ITT Hartford Life & Annuity Insurance Company (“Defendant”) filed an opposition. (Doc. 15.)

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s ex parte application is GRANTED and the scheduling order shall be modified to extend the non-expert discovery deadline by thirty (30) days to August 15, 2016, limited only to the production of documents by Third Party Prudential.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background of Case[1]

         In November 1994, Koth Khamphasouk obtained a “flexible premium adjustable” life insurance policy from Defendant, naming Plaintiff, her granddaughter, as beneficiary (the “Policy”). Ms. Khamphasouk died on November 17, 2012. Plaintiff alleges that under the Policy, Defendant was obligated to pay Plaintiff the face value of the Policy, or $50, 000.00, at the time of the death of Ms. Khamphasouk. In addition to paying the death benefit, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant was obligated under the Policy to pay interest to Plaintiff from the date of Ms. Khamphasouk’s death until the death benefits were paid. (Doc. 1, p. 9.) Plaintiff alleges that she timely tendered notice of Ms. Khamphasouk’s death to Defendant and cooperated with Defendant in connection with her attempt to collect benefits under the Policy, but that Defendant failed to conduct a complete and unbiased investigation, disregarded information, and ultimately improperly denied benefits to Plaintiff under the Policy. (Doc. 1, p. 10.)

         B. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff’s complaint was filed in the Fresno County Superior Court on November 19, 2014, and removed to this Court on August 18, 2015. (Doc. 1.) On November 30, 2015, the Court issued a scheduling order requiring the parties to complete all non-expert discovery on or before July 15, 2016. (Doc. 9, 3:4-5.) The scheduling order set forth the following requirements regarding extensions of deadlines contained in the order:

If the parties determine at any time that the schedule outlined in this order cannot be met, counsel are ordered to notify the Court immediately of that fact so that adjustments may be made, either by stipulation or by subsequent status conference.
Stipulations extending the deadlines contained herein will not be considered unless they are accompanied by affidavits or declarations, and where appropriate attached exhibits, which establish good cause for granting the relief requested. The parties are advised that due to the impacted nature of civil cases on the district judges in the Eastern District of California, Fresno Division, that stipulations to continue set dates are disfavored and will not be granted absent good cause.

(Doc. 9, 8:20-9:2.)

         On July 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed an ex parte application to modify the Court’s scheduling order and extend the non-expert discovery deadline, which Defendant opposed on July 19, 2016. (Docs. 13, 15.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Relevant Facts

         1. The Prudential Documents

         Plaintiff propounded Request for Production of Documents, Set One, to Defendant on October 16, 2015. (Doc. 13-2, Declaration of Quentin Cedar In Support of Ex Parte Application (“Cedar Decl.”), ¶ 3.) On October 30, 2015, Defendant’s counsel sent a letter to Plaintiff’s counsel in reference to their upcoming telephone conference “to discuss Rule 26(f) issues.” (Doc. 15-1, Cynthia Liu’s Declaration in Support of Defendant’s Opposition (“Liu Decl.”), ¶ 2; Doc. 15-2, Ex. A.) In that letter, defense counsel wrote:

Like you, I anticipate that discovery will proceed smoothly and see no reason to deviate from the normal pretrial procedures for this relatively straightforward case. The one caveat, which I mentioned in our last call, is that [Defendant] sold its life business to Prudential in 2013, and the witnesses and documents pertaining to that business are no longer under [Defendant’s] control. As a result, our ...

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