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Doe v. Los Angeles Unified School District

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 4, 2017

JANE DOE
v.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, ET AL.

          Present: Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings:(IN CHAMBERS) - EX PARTE APPLICATION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE AND MODIFY SCHEDULING ORDER (Filed March 27, 2017, Dkt. 94)

         The Court is in receipt of plaintiff s motion to continue the trial date and modify the scheduling order. Dkt. 94. The Court is also in receipt of Defendant Steven Carnine's opposition, dkt. 95, as well as the remaining defendants' opposition, dkt. 96.

         On March 30, 2017, in light of plaintiff s counsel's impending travel plans, the Court promptly reviewed the application and oppositions and denied the motion for a continuance of the trial. Dkt. 100. In its order, the Court stated that a, "separate detailed ruling will follow." Id. Herein the Court will explain its reasons for the denial of the motion to continue trial in this matter.

         Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a scheduling order may be modified "only for good cause." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).

Rule 16(b)'s good cause standard primarily considers the diligence of the party seeking the amendment.... Carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and offers no reason for a grant of relief. Although the existence or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party's reasons for seeking modification. If that party was not diligent, the inquiry should end.

Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations. Inc.. 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir.1992) (internal quotations and citations omitted). "The pretrial schedule may be modified 'if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.'" Zivkovic v. S. Cal. Edison Co., 302 F.3d 1080, 1087 (9th Cir.2002) (quoting Johnson. 975 F.2d at 609). "The district court is given broad discretion in supervising the pretrial phase of litigation, and its decisions regarding the preclusive effect of a pretrial order . . . will not be disturbed unless they evidence a clear abuse of discretion." Miller v. Safeco Title Ins. Ca, 758 F.2d 364, 369 (9th Cir. 1985).

         Trial in this matter is scheduled to commence on May 9, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. Dkt. 68 ("Scheduling Order"). Pursuant to the Scheduling Order, a pretrial conference and hearing on motions in limine is scheduled for April 24, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. Li Motions in limine were to be noticed for April 24, 2017, and filed no later than yesterday, April 4, 2017. Id. Defendants have collectively filed thirteen motions in limine, see dkts. 103-110; 112-116, whereas plaintiff appears not to have filed any. On April 3, 2017, defendants filed witness and exhibits lists as well as contentions of fact and law. Dkts. 118-122. On the same day, plaintiffs filed a witness list, dkt. 124, an exhibit list, dkt. 125, and contentions of fact and law, dkt. 123.

         Plaintiff seeks a continuance of the trial date to July 18, 2017. Plaintiffs counsel offers numerous reasons for seeking a continuance. None satisfies the requirement that counsel demonstrate good cause for a continuance.

         Plaintiff sought to substitute counsel on March 17, 2017. Dkt. 92. On March 21, 2017, the Court approved the substitution and Jonathan Nielsen substituted for Rob Henning and Sam Brown as counsel of record for plaintiff Dkt. 93. Nielsen avers that, as of the instant application, he had yet to receive the complete file from plaintiffs prior counsel. Apparently, as of March 27, 2017, Nielson's file was missing "several videotapes depositions and other documents and evidence provided by Plaintiff to her prior Counsel." Dkt. 94, Declaration of Jonathan Nielsen ("Nielsen Decl.") ¶ 11.

         Nielsen evidently also had/has a "prepaid vacation scheduled from March 31, 2017, through April 12, 2017 . . . which has been scheduled for more than a year." Id. ¶ 13. Nielsen also claims to have been seeking a mediation date with defendants, for which he was preparing. Id. ¶ 10. On March 27, 2017, defense counsel notified Nielsen that defendants would not agree to a mediation on March 30, 2017.[1] Id. At bottom, plaintiffs ex parte application for a continuance rests upon his contention that he is missing portions of plaintiff s file.[2] Plaintiffs counsel argues that he has "no way of complying" with the Court's deadlines without the complete file. Motion at 5. Plaintiffs counsel explains:

Despite requesting the entire file, Plaintiffs prior counsel has been unjustifiably slow in delivering the entire file. This has hindered the Plaintiffs ability to properly prepare the pretrial documents and motions in limine. This delay coupled with Plaintiff Counsel's upcoming vacation will make it nearly impossible to meet and confer with Defense Counsel to prepare the trial documents.

Id. at 6.

         Plaintiffs counsel does not purport to have an unavoidable scheduling conflict with the trial date, the pretrial conference date, or the date by which pretrial conference documents are due.[3] The only date for which plaintiffs counsel has an actual conflict appears to be the date by which motions in limine were to be filed, April 3, 2017, during which plaintiffs counsel had vacation plans. However, counsel's travel plans do not provide good cause for a continuance of the motions in limine date or the trial. Plaintiffs counsel knew or should ...


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