Stevenson v. Schneider Electric USA, Inc.
ORDER granting 78 Motion for Reconsideration of Discovery Ruling by Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya on 12/16/14.(jhawk, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Magistrate Judge Kathleen M. Tafoya
Civil Action No. 13BcvB01609BPABBKMT
TRACY LYNN STEVENSON,
SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC U.S.A., INC.,
This matter is before the court on “Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration of Discovery
Ruling” [Doc. No. 78] filed December 14, 2014. The court heard oral argument on these issues
on November 17, 2014, is well aware of the defendant’s opposition to the extension of any
discovery period and the reasons for the defendant’s position. Therefore, further briefing will not
be beneficial to the court.
On November 17, 2014, the parties participated in a Scheduling/Status Conference
following District Judge Phil Brimmer’s ruling on Defendant’s then pending Motion to Dismiss.
At that time, the previously set discovery deadline was long elapsed and the court declined to grant
additional discovery. The Plaintiff asked for an opportunity to submit argument in favor of
allowing more discovery, which the court granted. For the reasons set forth herein, the court has
reconsidered its position.
This case was opened by the defendant’s removal of Plaintiff’s Complaint from Denver
District Court on June 19, 2013. Defendant filed its original motion to dismiss on July 17, 2013
[Doc. No. 15], several months before the original scheduling conference ultimately held on
September 24, 2014. Within days of the filing of the motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed its motion
to remand on July 22, 2013, seeking to return the case to state court. [Doc. No. 18]. Plaintiff
also filed an Amended Complaint on July 22, 2013, however that pleading was not allowed by the
court until January 6, 2014. [Doc. No. 42.] Therefore, both the motion for remand and the
motion to dismiss were pending at the time this court conducted the scheduling conference.
At the scheduling conference, the date for completion of all discovery was set for March
24, 2014. [Doc. No. 41, Scheduling Order].
On January 6, 2014, after the District Court issued its ruling allowing the filing of the
Amended Complaint, the court also denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss as moot, clearing up six
months of murky pleading status.1 The defendant characterized the operative Amended
Complaint as “eliminate[ing] the claims for an injunction and for breach of contract, leaving only
the claims for monetary judgment related to a writ of garnishment; aiding and abetting; and civil
conspiracy.” [Doc. No. 46 at 2.]
On Jan 23, 2014, Defendant filed a renewed partial motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s second
and third claims in the Amended Complaint, but not the first claim, “Monetary Judgments Based
on Failure to Comply with Writ(s) of Garnishment” [Am. Comp. at 3.]
Resolving the last of the uncertainty, Plaintiff’s motion for remand was denied on Feb. 27, 2014.
On the issue of discovery, in the joint status report filed by the parties on March 6, 2014
[Doc. No. 54], the defendant stated
“Defendant reiterates its position, as stated at the Scheduling Conference, that the
standard Civil Case Scheduling Order, rather than the Scheduling Order in an
ERISA Action, is the proper Scheduling Order in this case. This is because Plaintiff
has made a claim for breach of fiduciary duties, and discovery outside the
Administrative Record is permitted for ERISA claims that do not state claims for
benefits, which are subject to administrative review. See, e.g., Erickson v. Lincoln
Nat. Life Ins. Co., No. 11 -CV-00394-PAB-BNB, 2011 WL 5439810, **1-2 (D.
Colo. Nov.9, 2011) (citing Murphy v. Deloitte & Touche Grp. Ins. Plan, 619 F.3d
1151, 1158 (10th Cir. 2010)).
Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff’s position was
Because the Amended Complaint was not accepted for filing until January 6, 2014
and the Defendant has re-filed its motion to dismiss (in the Renewed Motion to
Dismiss, Docket No. 46) without filing an answer, the discovery cut-off under the
current Scheduling Order is about to expire prior to the Defendants formal
commitment to a position in this matter. Indeed, it may still be possible for
Defendant to file cross-claims or counter-claims.
Id. at 4 (emphasis in original).
The plaintiff, never abandoning her position that review of Defendant’s answer and
affirmative defenses was necessary prior to undertaking discovery, accurately sensed a looming
problem and filed an emergency motion to stay on March 11, 2014. [Doc. No. 56] A stay was
granted on March 25, 2014, one day after the original discovery cutoff. On September 10, 2014,
District Judge Brimmer denied the Defendant’s renewed motion to dismiss [Doc. No. 68] and the
stay was lifted on September 23, 2014.
During the period between the removal of the case in June, 2013 through September 29,
2014, when the Defendant finally filed its Answer, Defendant had the benefit of notice of the
factual basis underlying Plaintiff’s claims and, until the stay, was able to take discovery on any
aspect of the claims against it. While Plaintiff had the same period of time available to it for
discovery, during this eventful time period Plaintiff was tasked with 1) pursuing amendment of her
Complaint for which she did not receive a ruling allowing the amendment until five and one-half
months after filing; 2) enduring six and a half months of limbo with respect to her motion to
remand; 3) responding to a motion to dismiss that would very likely be mooted if her Amended
Complaint, docketed two months before the scheduling conference, was allowed under the liberal
reading of Fed. R. Civ. P. 15; and, 4) proceeding without the benefit of Defendant’s Answer and
In the status report filed on September 22, 2014, Defendant stated its opposition to any
extension of the discovery period for the benefit of Plaintiff, who had apparently not conducted
any affirmative discovery up to that date. However, Defendant correctly noted that Plaintiff had
complied with discovery propounded against it (albeit not to the satisfaction of Defendant), and
Plaintiff’s counsel had defended Plaintiff’s deposition. See [Doc. No. 69 at ¶ 4] (Defendant stated
that it had, prior to the discovery cut-off date, “served written discovery, deposed Plaintiff, and
notified Plaintiff of deficiencies in her discovery responses.”)
While Plaintiff could have engaged in its own discovery against the Defendant, given the
unique circumstances of this case and the relationship – or more exactly, the non-relationship – of
the parties, the exact nature of the discovery needed from the defendant might not have been
pellucid to the plaintiff without notice of the defendant’s answer and affirmative defenses.
Therefore, having examined the procedural history in detail as noted above, the court
agrees with the Plaintiff that depriving her of post-answer discovery would be extremely
prejudicial and unwarranted given the unfolding of the case to date. That prejudice far outweighs
the inconvenience, in any, to the Defendant in requiring it to respond to focused and particularized
discovery now that the defendant’s motion to dismiss has been denied and its Answer filed.
Therefore, this court reconsiders its previous order disallowing further discovery in this case and
shall re-open discovery for all parties.
It is ORDERED
“Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration of Discovery Ruling” [Doc. No. 78] is
GRANTED. The following new discovery deadlines are set with respect to discovery in this
Discovery Cut Off
April 14, 2015
Dispositive Motions Deadline
May 14, 2015
Affirmative Expert Disclosure
February 16, 2015
Rebuttal Expert Disclosure
March 16, 2015
Dated this 16th day of December, 2014.
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