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Suscavage v. The Regents of University of California

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 11, 2017

Layla Suscavage, Plaintiff,
v.
The Regents of University of California, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING JOINT MOTION TO CONTINUE EARLY NEUTRAL EVALUATION AND SETTING AND CASE MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE [DKT NO. 5]

          HON. NITA L. STORMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         For good cause shown, the court GRANTS the joint motion, VACATES the April 19, 2017 Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) and RESETS it for May 15, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. in the Chambers of Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes, Carter-Keep United States Courthouse, 333 West Broadway, Suite 1210, San Diego, California 92101. If the case does not settle at the ENE, the Court will hold a Case Management Conference (CMC) immediately following the ENE on May 15, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.

         The following are mandatory guidelines for preparing for the conference.

         1. Purpose of Conference: The purpose of the ENE is to permit an informal discussion between the attorneys, parties, and the settlement judge of every aspect of the lawsuit in an effort to achieve an early resolution of the case. All conference discussions will be informal, off the record, privileged and confidential. Counsel for any non-English speaking parties is responsible for arranging for the appearance of an interpreter at the conference.

         2. Personal Appearance of Parties Is Required: All parties, adjusters for insured defendants, and other representatives of a party having full and complete authority to enter into a binding settlement, and the principal attorneys responsible for the litigation, must be present in person and legally and factually prepared to discuss settlement of the case. Full authority to settle means that the individuals at the ENE be authorized to fully explore settlement options and to agree at that time to any settlement terms acceptable to the parties. Heileman Brewing Co., Inc. v. Joseph Oat Corp., 871 F.2d 648, 653 (7th Cir. 1989). The person needs to have "unfettered discretion and authority" to change the settlement position of a party. Pitman v. Brinker Int'l, Inc., 216 F.R.D. 481, 485-486 (D. Ariz. 2003). One of the purposes of requiring a person with unlimited settlement authority to attend the conference is that the person's view of the case may be altered during the face-to-face conference. Pitman, 216 F.R.D. at 486. Limited or sum certain authority is not adequate. Nick v. Morgan 's Foods, Inc., 270 F.3d 590, 595-597 (8th Cir. 2001). Counsel appearing without their clients (whether or not counsel has been given settlement authority) will be cause for immediate imposition of sanctions and will also result in the immediate termination of the conference.

         3. Full Settlement Authority Required: In addition to counsel who will try the case, a party or party representative with full settlement authority 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 the plaintiffs prayer (excluding punitive damage 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 ENE 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.

         4. Confidential ENE Statements Required: No later than three court days before the ENE, the parties shall submit confidential statements of five pages or less directly to the chambers of Magistrate Judge Stormes outlining the nature of the case, the claims, and the defenses. These statements shall not be filed or served on opposing counsel. They can be lodged via email at efilestormes@casd.uscourts.gov. If exhibits are attached and the total submission amounts to more than 20 pages, a hard copy must be delivered directly to chambers.

         5. New Parties Must Be Notified by Plaintiffs Counsel: Plaintiff's counsel shall serve a copy of this order on all parties responding to the complaint after the date of this notice.

         6. Case Management Under the Amended Federal Rules: If the case does not settle at the ENE, the Court will immediately thereafter hold a CMC pursuant to Rule 16(b). The Court therefore ORDERS the following to occur before the ENE:

a. The Rule 26(f) conference must be completed by May 1, 2017.
b. The parties must lodge a Joint Discovery Plan with Judge Stormes by May 8, 2017. The Joint Discovery Plan must address all points in the attached "Model Rule 26(f) Report and Joint Case Management Statement."
c. Initial disclosures pursuant to Rule 26(a)(1)(A-D) must occur by May 8, 2017.

         7. Requests to Continue an ENE Conference: Local Rule 16.1(c) requires that an ENE take place within 45 days of the filing of the first answer. Requests to continue ENEs are rarely granted. However, the Court will consider formal, written ex parte requests to continue an ENE conference when extraordinary circumstances exist that make a continuance appropriate. In and of itself, having to travel a long distance to appear in person is not "extraordinary." Absent extraordinary circumstances, requests for continuances will not be considered unless submitted in writing no less than seven (7) days prior to the scheduled conference.

         Questions regarding this case or the mandatory guidelines set forth herein may be directed to the Magistrate Judge's law clerks at (619) 557-5391.

         A Notice of Right to Consent to Trial Before a United States Magistrate Judge is ...


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