Mitchell v. Felker et al

Filing 176

ORDER signed by Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan on 3/20/2013 ORDERING that defendants' 171 motion for an extension of time is GRANTED, and defendants shall have until 5/31/2013 to oppose plaintiff's motions for class certification and preliminary injunction. The 4/3/2013 hearing on the motions is VACATED, and the court will hear argument on the motions on 6/12/2013 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 8 (EFB) before Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan. (Yin, K)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 ROBERT MITCHELL, et al., Plaintiffs, 11 12 vs. 13 No. 2:08-cv-1196 JAM EFB P T. FELKER, et al., ORDER Defendants. 14 / 15 16 Plaintiffs are California prison inmates proceeding with counsel in an action under 42 17 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the court are plaintiffs’ motions for class certification (Dckt. 18 No. 155) and for a preliminary injunction prohibiting defendants from imposing race-based 19 lockdowns in any California prison during the pendency of this action (Dckt. No. 156). 20 Defendants seek an extension of 72 days to file their oppositions to the motions. Dckt. No. 171. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1), the court may grant the request for an 21 22 extension of time “for good cause.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has stated 23 that requests for extensions of time under Rule 6(b)(1), made before the applicable deadline has 24 passed, should normally be granted in the absence of bad faith or prejudice to the opposing party. 25 Ahanchian v. Xenon Pictures, Inc., 624 F.3d 1253, 1258-59 (9th Cir. 2010). 26 //// 1 1 Plaintiffs filed the two pending motions on March 5, 2013, improperly noticing them 2 before District Judge Mendez. Dckt. No. 167. Plaintiffs re-noticed the motions before the 3 undersigned on March 7, 2013, setting the hearing on the motions for April 3, 2013. Dckt. Nos. 4 169, 170. Under the Local Rules of this court, defendants’ opposition papers are currently due 5 March 20, 2013. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(c). Defendants argue that this deadline provides them with 6 inadequate time to oppose “the complex and fact-intensive issues” raised by plaintiff’s motions. 7 Dckt. No. 171 at 2. Defendants note that the motions, with exhibits, total 646 pages. Id. 8 According to defendants, they are currently mired in extensive discovery on this case, which will 9 continue until the close of discovery on April 30, 2013. Id.; see Dckt. No. 151 (non-expert 10 11 discovery closes on April 30, 2013). Defendants sought plaintiffs’ stipulation to an extension, but plaintiffs would agree to 12 only a two-week extension, which defendants argue is unreasonable because it would still 13 require defendants to prepare the oppositions while their resources are heavily engaged in 14 discovery. Dckt. No. 171 at 3. Defendants argue that no exigency exists that requires plaintiffs’ 15 motions to be heard as currently noticed, noting that the case was pending for nearly five years 16 prior to plaintiffs’ filing of the motions. Id. at 4. 17 Plaintiffs oppose defendants’ requested extension. Dckt. No. 175. According to 18 plaintiffs, defendants have not demonstrated good cause for the extension. Plaintiffs first argue 19 that “[a] claimed inability to make a timely filing due to asserted staffing issues has been held 20 not to constitute good cause for extensions or delays in briefing,” citing Guillen v. Owens, No. 21 CV-10-226-PHX-JWS (LOA), 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139912 (D. Ariz. Mar. 2, 2012). In 22 Guillen, the court denied an extension of time for filing a dispositive motion that was sought by 23 an attorney who argued that he needed the extension because he had been “recently” appointed 24 to the case, but who, in fact, had been appointed 30-days prior to the motion for extension of 25 time. Id. at *3. The court further noted that the attorney could avail himself of the assistance of 26 the prior attorney in preparing the motion. Id. at *3-4. Guillen does not present a scenario 2 1 similar to that presented here, where plaintiffs’ motions seek to certify a class of tens-of- 2 thousands and to impose an injunction on defendants that would change the way the State of 3 California operates all of its prisons. These motions are not run-of-the-mill dispositive motions, 4 but instead are lengthy and complex, as defendants argue. Nor did the moving party in Guillen 5 face the deluge of discovery described by defendants in this case. 6 Plaintiffs next argue that defendants’ delay in producing responsive discovery is partially 7 why they are still so busy with discovery. Past discovery disputes notwithstanding, the parties 8 have agreed to the current discovery schedule. Dckt. No. 151. Plaintiffs do not dispute 9 defendants’ characterization of the large scope of discovery. 10 Plaintiffs contend that defendants must establish that they have been diligent in order to 11 obtain an extension but have not done so. Plaintiff’s citations refer to requests for modification 12 of a scheduling order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b), and not Rule 6(b), which 13 plaintiff’s concede governs here. See Dckt. No. 175 (citing Rule 6(b), Alioto v. Town of Lisbon, 14 651 F.3d 715, 720 (7th Cir. 2011) (determining good cause under Rule 16(b)), and Guillen, 2011 15 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139912 (determining good cause under Rule 6(b) by inexplicably applying 16 Rule 16(b) standard)). As the Ninth Circuit has noted, the Rule 6(b) good cause standard is 17 “non-rigorous.” Ahanchian, 624 F.3d at 1259 (finding good cause where a party faced an 18 “exceptionally constrained deadline” which immediately followed a holiday weekend). 19 Moreover, even if the instant motion is governed by Rule 16(b) and defendants must therefore 20 demonstrate diligence, defendants’ filing of their motion prior to the expiration of the due date of 21 their briefs and their evidence showing that they have been devoting significant resources to 22 respond to formidable discovery requests demonstrates diligence. 23 Lastly, plaintiffs argue that they suffer irreparable harm each day that the state is allowed 24 to continue its race-based lockdown practices and ask that any extension of time be conditioned 25 on the state ceasing such practices during the extended time. While the court recognizes 26 plaintiffs’ interest in ending the lockdown policies that are the subject of this litigation, the 3 1 extension sought by defendants will not unduly delay the case. Indeed, the motions will be heard 2 by the court well before the dispositive motion deadline. See Dckt. No. 151 (dispositive motions 3 to be filed on or before August 19, 2013). As to plaintiffs’ request that defendants be ordered to 4 cease implementation of the lockdown policy during the interim, the court is unaware of any 5 authority for such an order (and plaintiffs have cited none). In effect, plaintiffs are requesting 6 temporary injunctive relief prior to hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction without 7 complying with the federal and local rules for doing so. The court declines to grant such a 8 temporary injunction or impose such requirement on defendants as a condition of an extension of 9 time. 10 For the reasons stated herein, the court ORDERS that defendants’ March 11, 2013 11 motion for an extension of time (Dckt. No. 171) is GRANTED, and defendants shall have until 12 May 31, 2013 to oppose plaintiff’s motions for class certification and preliminary injunction. 13 The date currently set for hearing on the motions (April 3, 2013) is vacated, and the court will 14 hear argument on the motions on June 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom No. 8. 15 Dated: March 20, 2013. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?