Quinn v. Deutsche Bank National Trust Company et al
ORDER denying 56 Motion for Extension of Time to File Response to motions for summary judgment. Signed by Chief Judge William H. Steele on 2/17/2014. (tgw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL
TRUST COMPANY, et al.,
CIVIL ACTION 13-0115-WS-C
This matter comes before the Court on pro se plaintiff Derek Quinn’s Motion to Extend
Time to File Response (doc. 56).
On January 13, 2014, the undersigned entered an Order (doc. 47) directing that plaintiff’s
response to defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment (docs. 42, 44) be filed on or before
February 7, 2014, with movants’ reply briefs to be due by February 21, 2014. At a hearing
conducted in this case on January 16, 2014, Magistrate Judge Cassady indicated to Quinn and his
then-attorney of record, Robert Rone, Esq., that he was granting Rone’s motion to withdraw and
that Quinn (who stated on the record that he graduated from law school and practiced law until
his disbarment in 2005) would be expected to proceed pro se in this action. Quinn
acknowledged on the record that he understood.
On February 13, 2014, some six days after his deadline for responding to the pending
Motions for Summary Judgment had expired, Quinn filed this Motion to Extend Time. As
grounds for same, Quinn represented to this Court that February 13 was the first time that
“Quinn discover[ed] that a motion for summary judgment had been filed” against him in this
case. (Doc. 56, at 1-2.) Quinn further represented his status as “not knowing of a summary
judgment motion” until the day he filed the Motion to Extend Time. (Id. at 2.) Quinn stated that
he “discovered this summary judgment motion and was given a copy of it only today, being
February 13, 2014, which is reportedly already past the time for response.” (Id. at 2.)
Upon careful review of the file, the Court concludes that Quinn’s professed ignorance of
the pending summary judgment motions until February 13, 2014 is demonstrably false. The
undersigned has listened to the audio recording of the January 16 hearing in this action, which
Quinn attended and in which he actively participated. By the undersigned’s count, Judge
Cassady referenced the pending summary judgment motions on no fewer than four occasions
over the course of the 19-minute hearing. For example, Judge Cassady remarked early in the
hearing, “I see that summary judgment motions have been filed.” Later in the hearing, Judge
Cassady specifically stated to Quinn that “you now have [defendants’] information on summary
judgment.” When Quinn began to protest that he had not seen the summary judgment motions,
Judge Cassady shrugged off that concern by reminding Quinn that he (Quinn) now had complete
access to the court file. Based on this clear record of the hearing, the Court finds that Quinn had
actual knowledge of the pending summary judgment motions by no later than January 16, 2014,
more than three weeks before his responses were due.
Furthermore, Judge Cassady’s written Order (doc. 54) dated February 5, 2014, included
the following statement: “The undersigned also reminds the plaintiff that the defendants’ motion
for summary judgment (doc. 42) remains pending before Chief United States District Judge
William H. Steele and that Judge Steele has ordered that the plaintiff must file any response to
the defendants’ motion by February 7, 2014 (doc. 47).” (Doc. 54, at 6.) Court records confirm
that electronic notice of the February 5 Order was sent to Quinn at his designated email address
at 11:10 a.m. on February 5. Therefore, even if the January 16 hearing had not been replete with
references to the pending summary judgment motions (which it was), a court order e-mailed to
Quinn placed him on notice of those motions and his response obligations some 8 days before he
now says he first discovered the existence of the Rule 56 motions. If Quinn read the February 5
Order, then that fact belies his assertion that he knew nothing of the summary judgment motions
until February 13. However, if Quinn failed to read that court order, then he has only himself to
blame for missing the briefing deadline plainly referenced therein.
Even if these misrepresentations were not fatal to Quinn’s Motion (which they are), the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a federal district court to extend a briefing deadline “on
motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.”
Rule 6(b)(1)(B), Fed.R.Civ.P. Whether neglect is excusable is an equitable determination,
“taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party’s omission.” Pioneer Inv.
Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs., 507 U.S. 380, 395, 113 S.Ct. 1489, 123 L.Ed. 74 (1993). Here
the relevant circumstances include that Quinn (a former attorney who practiced law, including in
federal court, until 2005) knew on January 16, 2014 that his attorney was being allowed to
withdraw and that he would be proceeding pro se in this action. As of January 16, Quinn also
knew that the entire court file was available to him electronically. Therefore, even if Quinn’s
former attorney never mentioned the summary judgment motions to him, an even minimally
diligent litigant in Quinn’s position would have reviewed the docket sheet within a reasonable
time after January 16 to ascertain what was happening in the case, what deadlines were looming
and so on. Even the most cursory inspection of the docket sheet would revealed to a person
trained in the law (as Quinn is) that Rule 56 motions were pending and required immediate
attention. Yet, by Quinn’s own admission, he did not perform this most elementary step of
looking at the docket sheet until February 13, 2014, fully four weeks after he knew he was a pro
se litigant bearing sole responsibility for representing his own interests in this case. In light of
these circumstances, the Court readily concludes that Quinn has failed to show excusable
neglect, so as to justify an enlargement of time under Rule 6(b)(1)(B), Fed.R.Civ.P.
For all of the foregoing reasons, including both Quinn’s demonstrable misrepresentations
to this Court about when he learned of the summary judgment motions and Quinn’s failure to
show excusable neglect to justify his failure to act timely, the Court finds that plaintiff’s Motion
to Extend Time (doc. 56) is due to be, and the same hereby is, denied.
DONE and ORDERED this 17th day of February, 2014.
s/ WILLIAM H. STEELE
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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