Murphy v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Company
ORDER denying 93 Motion to Strike. Within 14 days Farmers' shall show good cause why it should not be foreclosed from calling any witnesses at trial for failure to file a timely final witness list. Signed by Judge John W Sedwick on 6/5/14.(JWS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
Mary M. Murphy, individually and as
conservator for her minor children,
W. M. and L. M.
Farmers New World Life Ins. Co.,
ORDER AND OPINION
[Motion at docket 93]
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 93, plaintiff Mary M. Murphy (“Murphy”) asks the court to strike
defendant Farmers New World Life Insurance Company (“Farmers”) supplemental
witness list. The time for responding has passed, and Farmers has not filed a
The parties are generally familiar with the facts and circumstances giving rise to
this litigation. Readers not familiar with the case may wish to read the court’s order at
docket 113. Of particular relevance to the pending motion is the court’s Scheduling and
Planning Order at docket 12. That order set out a carefully crafted series of deadlines
using input provided by the parties. With respect to filing final witness lists it provided
G. A final witness list, disclosing all lay and expert witnesses whom a
party may wish to call at trial, shall be served and filed not later than
October 1, 2013. Only those witnesses disclosed in a timely filed witness
list will be permitted to testify at trial.
Various of the deadlines established in the scheduling order, including the date for the
final witness lists, were extended in a series of stipulations between the parties, which
were approved by the court. The last order extending the time for final witness lists and
certain other tasks was entered on March 4, 2014. 1 It extended the deadline for final
witness lists to April 18, 2014. Murphy timely filed and served her final witness list on
April 18, 2014, at docket 88. It is now June and Farmers has not filed a final witness
list. However, Murphy asserts that on April 21, 2014, Farmers served Murphy with a
“supplemental” witness list which was not filed. It is that served but unfiled witness list
which is the subject of the pending motion.
This court has used a Scheduling and Planning Order which, in relevant part, is
substantially identical to the one used in this case since 1992. If in the subsequent 21
plus years, any party other than an individual proceeding pro se has ever completely
disregarded the requirement to file a final witness list, it escapes the court’s memory.
Of course, the purpose of scheduling orders is to ensure the orderly development of the
litigation and an orderly trial process. Such orders are one of the chief mechanisms by
which trial judges discharge their duty to apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure so
as “to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding.”2 The date for serving and filing final witness lists is, as here, always set
well before the close of discovery. That sequence ensures that a party will have an
opportunity to depose any person who may be called to testify at trial. Here, under the
terms of the Scheduling and Planning Oder, Farmers’ disregard of its obligation to
timely file a final witness list leaves it in the awkward position of being unable to call any
witness to testify at trial, although it would still be entitled to cross-examine witnesses
called by Murphy.
Turning to Murphy’s motion, the court notes that there is nothing to strike from
the record, because Farmers has not filed the “supplemental witness list.” Thus, the
motion at docket 93 must be denied. However, the motion has served the purpose of
alerting the parties and the court to the problem confronting Farmers.
For the reasons above, the motion at docket 93 is DENIED; and
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that within 14 days Farmers’ shall show good cause
why it should not be foreclosed from calling any witnesses at trial for failure to file a
timely final witness list.
DATED this 5th day of June 2014.
JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Fed. R. Civ. P. 1.
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