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HCC Life Insurance Co. v. Conroy

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 23, 2017



          Hon. Barbara L. Major United States Magistrate Judge

         On March 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed an “Ex Parte Application to Amend Scheduling Order Regulating Discovery and Other Pre-trial Proceedings.” ECF No. 63. Plaintiff asks the Court to continue the April 24, 2017 Pretrial Conference to “60 days after the Court's ruling on [Plaintiff's] motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, to June 26, 2017, with all related deadlines continued accordingly.” Id. at 1. Plaintiff contends that the ruling on the motion for summary judgment might resolve the case, and argues that the requested continuance is therefore warranted. Id. at 3.

         On March 22, 2017, Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's ex parte motion. ECF No. 64. Defendants state that despite the pendency of Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, the parties completed “disclosure and discovery, ” and assert that the “case is ready for the pre-trial procedure and trial.” Id. at 2. Defendants thus ask the Court to deny Plaintiff's ex parte motion. Id. at 3.

         On March 22, 2017, District Judge Benitez issued an order denying Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 65. Having reviewed Plaintiff's ex parte motion and Defendants' opposition, and having consulted with the chambers of District Judge Benitez, the Court does not find good cause to grant the lengthy 60-day continuance of the Pretrial Conference and related dates sought by Plaintiff. The Court therefore GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's ex parte motion and AMENDS the Case Management Conference Order as follows:

         1. A Mandatory Settlement Conference shall be conducted on April 11, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in the chambers of Magistrate Judge Barbara L. Major located at 333 West Broadway, Suite 1110, San Diego, CA 92101. All discussions at the Mandatory Settlement Conference will be informal, off the record, privileged, and confidential. Counsel for any non-English speaking party is responsible for arranging for the appearance of an interpreter at the conference.

         a. Personal Appearance of Parties Required:

         All parties, adjusters for insured defendants, and other representatives of a party having full and complete authority to enter into a binding settlement, as well as the principal attorneys responsible for the litigation, must be present in person and legally and factually prepared to discuss settlement of the case. Counsel appearing without their clients (whether or not counsel has been given settlement authority) will be cause for immediate imposition of sanctions and may also result in the immediate termination of the conference.

         Unless there is good cause, persons required to attend the conference pursuant to this Order shall not be excused from personal attendance. Requests for excuse from attendance for good cause shall be made in writing at least three (3) court days prior to the conference. Failure to appear in person at the Mandatory Settlement Conference will be grounds for sanctions.

         b. Full Settlement Authority Required:

         In addition to counsel who will try the case, a party or party representative with full settlement authority[1] must be present for the conference. In the case of a corporate entity, an authorized representative of the corporation who is not retained outside counsel must be present and must have discretionary authority to commit the company to pay an amount up to the amount of Plaintiff's prayer (excluding punitive damages prayers). The purpose of this requirement is to have representatives present who can settle the case during the course of the conference without consulting a superior. Counsel for a government entity may be excused from this requirement so long as the government attorney who attends the Mandatory Settlement Conference (1) has primary responsibility for handling the case, and (2) may negotiate settlement offers which the attorney is willing to recommend to the government official having ultimate settlement authority.

         c. Confidential Settlement Statements Required:

         No later than April 4, 2017, the parties shall submit directly to Magistrate Judge Major's chambers (via hand delivery or email address) confidential settlement statements no more than ten (10) pages in length. These confidential statements shall not be filed or served on opposing counsel. Each party's confidential statement must set forth the party's statement of the case, identify controlling legal issues, concisely set out issues of liability and damages, and shall set forth the party's settlement position, including any previous settlement negotiations, mediation sessions, or mediation efforts, the last offer or demand made by that party, and a separate statement of the offer or demand the party is prepared to make at the settlement conference. If a specific demand or offer for settlement cannot be made at the time the brief is submitted, then the reasons therefore must be stated along with a statement as to when the party will be in a position to state a demand or make an offer.

         General statements that a party will "negotiate in good faith" is not a specific demand or offer contemplated by this Order. It is assumed that all parties will negotiate in good faith.

         d. Requests to Continue a Mandatory ...

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