Mohammad v. Saul

Filing 24

Order by Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero granting in part 22 Motion for Fourth Extension of Time to Answer. The new deadline is April 14, 2021. A status conference will occur on April 16, 2021 at 2:00 PM if the Commissioner fails to meet that deadline. (jcslc2S, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 3/31/2021)

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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 EHSANULLAH MOHAMMAD, Plaintiff, 8 9 10 v. ANDREW SAUL, Defendant. 11 United States District Court Northern District of California Case No. 20-cv-02272-JCS ORDER GRANTING IN PART FOURTH REQUEST FOR EXTENSION OF TIME AND SETTING STATUS CONFERENCE Re: Dkt. No. 22 12 13 The Court has previously granted three requests for extensions of time for Defendant 14 Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”), to file his answer and a 15 certified copy of the administrative record. The answer and administrative record were originally 16 due September 23, 2020; the current deadline is March 22, 2021. On March 23, 2021, the 17 Commissioner filed a fourth request to continue the deadline, seeking an additional forty-five day 18 extension from the date of the motion, for a new deadline of May 7, 2021. The request is 19 supported by a declaration of Jebby Rasputnis, Executive Director of the Social Security 20 Administration’s Office of Appellate Operations, discussing factors generally addressing the 21 Commissioner’s delay in processing administrative records, but not addressing this case 22 specifically. 23 Plaintiff Ehsanullah Mohammad opposes the request, noting that nearly a year has passed 24 since he filed his complaint, and even with delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25 Commissioner has filed answers and administrative records in most other cases far more quickly. 26 The Court’s experience with other Social Security cases during the pandemic accords with 27 Mohammad’s position. While some delay is likely inevitable, the delay here is exceptional, and 28 the Commissioner has provided no explanation for why preparing this administrative record is 1 taking so much longer than others. 2 The Commissioner’s request, filed a day after the deadline it seeks to extend, places the 3 Court in a difficult position. If the request were denied, the Commissioner has already failed to 4 meet the deadline, and the Court would be left with little middle ground beyond relatively severe 5 measures like default judgment or contempt sanctions. The Commissioner notes that the delay 6 was caused by a calendaring error confusing the actual deadline with a date sixty days after the 7 Court’s order on the previous request, but even if counsel’s understanding of the deadline had 8 been correct, the present motion would have been filed only three days before the deadline it 9 sought to extend, which would not allow even the four days for Mohammad’s response permitted by the Court’s local rules. See Civ. L.R. 6-3(b). The Court has repeatedly admonished the 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 Commissioner in other cases to bring motions for extensions well in advance of deadlines at issue, 12 allowing at the very least enough time for a response.1 13 The Commissioner’s motion is GRANTED IN PART, and the Commissioner is 14 ORDERED to file his answer and the administrative record no later than April 14, 2021. If the 15 answer and administrative record are not filed by that date, a status conference will occur on April 16 16, 2021 at 2:00 PM via Zoom webinar to determine appropriate next steps and sanctions, and 17 Executive Director Rasputnis is ORDERED to appear at that conference prepared to address the 18 specific reasons for delay in this case. That conference will be vacated if the answer and 19 administrative record are filed by the deadline. IT IS SO ORDERED. 20 21 Dated: March 31, 2021 ______________________________________ JOSEPH C. SPERO Chief Magistrate Judge 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 1 The Court notes that Rasputnis’s declaration is dated March 17, 2021, suggesting that the Commissioner may have been aware of the need for an extension at least six days before filing the present motion on March 23, 2021, although it is possible that Rasputnis’s declaration was not prepared specifically for this case. Counsel’s characterization of it in the motion as the “January 2021 Declaration of Jerry Rasputnis” is incorrect as to both the date of the declaration and Rasputnis’s first name. 2

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