Allen v. California Highway Patrol

Filing 70

ORDER signed by District Judge Morrison C. England, Jr on 4/12/2017: GRANTING 59 Motion to Modify Pretrial Scheduling Order; Motions in Limine are now due by 9/7/2017; oppositions are now due by 9/21/2017; Replies are now due by 9/28/2017; the Fin al Pretrial Conference is CONTINUED to 10/5/2017 at 02:00 PM in Courtroom 7 (MCE) before District Judge Morrison C. England Jr; the Jury Trial is CONTINUED to 11/27/2017 at 09:00 AM in Courtroom 7 (MCE) before District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. (Washington, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 LAURIE E. ALLEN, individually and as successor in interest of KEITH W. ALLEN, deceased, 13 Plaintiff, 14 15 16 No. 2:13-cv-01821-MCE-EFB ORDER v. CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL, et al., Defendants. 17 This matter was set for trial on June 5, 2017. Defendants, however, filed a Motion 18 19 to Modify Pretrial Scheduling Order, ECF No. 59, on March 27, 2017. In that Motion, 20 Defendants seek to continue the trial until September 11, 2017. Defendants also filed an 21 Ex Parte Application to shorten the time for hearing that Motion. ECF No. 60. That Ex 22 Parte Application was GRANTED, ECF No. 68, staying all pretrial dates pending 23 resolution of Defendants’ Motion. It also provided Plaintiff an opportunity to file an 24 opposition to the Motion, of which she has taken advantage. ECF No. 69. After 25 consideration of the Motion and Plaintiff’s Opposition, the Court finds good cause exists 26 to modify the pretrial scheduling order and GRANTS Defendant’s Motion. 27 /// 28 /// 1 1 STANDARD 2 Generally, the Court is required to enter a pretrial scheduling order within 120 3 4 days of the filing of the complaint. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b). The scheduling order "controls 5 the subsequent course of the action" unless modified by the Court. Fed. R. Civ. P. 6 16(e). Orders entered before the final pretrial conference may be modified upon a 7 showing of “good cause,” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b), but orders”following a final pretrial 8 conference shall be modified only to prevent manifest injustice.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(e); 9 see also Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, 975 F.2d 604, 608 (9th Cir. 1992) Rule 16(b)’s “good cause” standard primarily considers the diligence of the party 10 11 seeking the amendment. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. The district court may modify the 12 pretrial schedule “if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party 13 seeking the extension.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 advisory committee’s note to 1983 14 amendment. Moreover, carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence and 15 offers no reason for a grant of relief. Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609. Although the existence 16 or degree of prejudice to the party opposing the modification might supply additional 17 reasons to deny a motion, the focus of the inquiry is upon the moving party’s reasons for 18 seeking modification. Id. (citing Gestetner Corp. v. Case Equip. Co., 108 F.R.D. 138, 19 141 (D. Me. 1985)). If the moving party was not diligent, the Court’s inquiry should end. 20 Id. 21 22 DISCUSSION 23 24 Defendants aver that this case was previously assigned to Kevin W. Reager, who 25 went on medical leave in January 2017. Meshot Decl., ECF No. 59-2, ¶ 3. He was 26 expected to return to work on February 6, 2017, and so the case continued to be 27 assigned to him. Id. However, in February 2017, his medical leave was extended to 28 March 6, 2017, and though the case continued to be assigned to him. Id. ¶ 4. 2 1 Sometime in mid-to-late March, Reager’s return became uncertain and the case was 2 assigned to two new attorneys, Vickie P. Whitney and Krista J. Dunzweiler. Defendants 3 aver that transferring the case to Whitney and Dunzweiler only in mid-to-late March 4 despite the extension of Reager’s leave was in good faith and due, in part, to staffing 5 shortages in the Tort and Condemnation Section of the Attorney General’s Office. Id. 6 The Court finds that Reager’s medical leave and uncertain return constitute good 7 cause for modifying the Pretrial Scheduling Order. Plaintiff only generally claims 8 prejudice would occur from continuing trial, stating that “[w]ith each continuance, Plaintiff 9 becomes more demoralized, and the possibility that witnesses may become unavailable 10 or that witnesses’ memories will fade increases.” Pl.’s Opp’n, at 2. While such concerns 11 are understandable, absent a more particularized demonstration of prejudice, the Court 12 is not persuaded that a continuance is inappropriate. 13 14 CONCLUSION 15 16 For the reasons provided, Defendants’ Motion to Modify Pretrial Scheduling 17 Order, ECF No. 59, is GRANTED. The trial is continued to November 27, 2017 at 9:00 18 a.m. Furthermore, the Final Pretrial Conference is continued to October 5, 2017 at 2:00 19 p.m. The parties’ Final Pretrial Conference Statement, Trial Briefs, and Motions in 20 Limine are due September 7, 2017. Any oppositions to the Motions in Limine are due 21 September 21, 2017, and any replies are due on September 28, 2017. 22 23 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: April 12, 2017 24 25 26 27 28 3

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