HUGHES v. POLAR CORP
ORDER denying 27 Motion for Extension of Time (Discovery to be complete by 11/27/2017; Dispositive motions due by 12/27/2017); denying 27 Motion to Appoint Counsel; denying 27 Motion to Stay. Ordered by US DISTRICT JUDGE C ASHLEY ROYAL on 6/2/2017 (lap)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
POLAR CORP. (MA),
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO
OBTAIN COUNSEL, TO APPOINT MEDIATOR, OR TO STAY THE CASE
Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Jeremy Hughes’s Motion to Appoint a
Mediator, to Stay the Case, or for a 90‐Day Extension of Time to Obtain Counsel [Doc.
27]. Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in Florida and trying to retain new legal counsel
to assist him in this case. Plaintiff requests the Court appoint a mediator to help
resolve the case, stay the case for 18 months, or provide Plaintiff an additional 90 days
to obtain counsel. Defendant Polar Corp. (MA) opposes Plaintiff’s Motion. For the
following reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion [Doc. 27] is DENIED.
On February 16, 2016, with assistance of counsel, Plaintiff brought this
disability discrimination suit against his former employer, Defendant Polar Corp.
(MA). However, shortly after the Court entered the Scheduling and Discovery,
Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. On November 17, 2016,
the Court granted counsel’s Motion to Withdraw as Attorney, stayed discovery in the
case, and provided Plaintiff 90 days to secure replacement counsel. The Court also
instructed Plaintiff if he is unable to secure counsel he could proceed with his case pro
se. Thereafter, Plaintiff received two additional 30‐day extensions to obtain
replacement counsel. Thus, Plaintiff has had five months to obtain new counsel, and
discovery in the case remains stayed. At this time, Plaintiff is incarcerated in Florida
and has not retained legal counsel.
Now, Plaintiff requests the Court appoint a mediator in an effort to settle this
case, or in the alternative, Plaintiff seeks an 18‐month stay of the case or a 90‐day
extension to obtain legal counsel. Defendant opposes all of Plaintiff’s requests and
argues there is no justification for any further delay in litigation. The Court agrees.
First, Plaintiff contends a Court‐appointed mediator is the best option to resolve
this case and eliminate the need for any further extensions. Yet, Defendant has
expressed it does not wish to settle this case and thus does not want to participate in
mediation. Though the Court encourages private mediation, the Court will not
appoint a mediator when Defendant does not intend to facilitate a settlement with
Plaintiff.1 Therefore, Plaintiff’s request for a Court‐appointed mediator is denied.
Next, Plaintiff requests an 18‐month stay of the case until his incarceration
ends in October 2018. In the alternative, Plaintiff seeks a 90‐day extension to retain
new counsel, contending the first two 30‐day extensions did not provide enough time.2
The Court, however, finds any further delay in this case is not warranted. “[T]he
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control
the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself,
for counsel, and for litigants.”3 Although a district court has inherent authority to stay
a case, “this power must not be exercised lightly.”4 The Court’s discretion must be
guided by concern for the “interests of all the parties and the interests of the court in
an orderly disposition of its caseload.”5 The party seeking a stay “must make out a
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(a) (authorizing a court to order the attorneys to appear for a pretrial conference for
the purpose of, among other things, “facilitating settlement.”); M.D. Ga., L.R. 16.2 (“Private mediation at
the expense of the parties is encouraged by the court. With the consent of all parties, the court will assist
in the scheduling of mediation and the selection of a mediator. Nothing in this rule prevents the parties
from scheduling mediation without the court’s involvement.”).
2 The Court notes Plaintiff’s request for a 90‐day extension is also a request to stay discovery for an
3 Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936).
4 Home Ins. Co. v. Coastal Lumber Co., 575 F. Supp. 1081, 1083 (N.D. Ga. 1983).
clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward.”6 When
determining whether a stay is appropriate, “a court may consider the prudential
advantages of a stay, but must also examine the relative prejudice and hardship
worked on each party if a stay is or is not granted.”7
Here, it does not appear that Plaintiff’s inability to obtain counsel at this time is
a clear case of hardship or inequity as to justify delaying the proceedings any longer.
Plaintiff still has access to the Court while he is in prison, and Plaintiff’s sister now has
power of attorney to assist him in his efforts to retain counsel. Moreover, discovery
has been stayed for over 150 days, and Plaintiff has already received multiple
extensions. The Court finds any further delay in this case will likely prejudice
Defendant, as witnesses may move or their memories may fade, and evidence may
become more difficult to obtain. Thus, the Court must also deny these requests.
Accordingly, Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint a Mediator, to Stay the Case, or for
an Extension of Time [Doc. 27] is DENIED, and the Stay of Discovery is now LIFTED.
The time for discovery in this case shall expire November 27, 2017, and all dispositive
motions must be filed no later than December 27, 2017. The Court DIRECTS
Landis, 299 U.S. at 255.
7 Fitzer v. Am. Inst. of Baking, Inc., No. CV 209‐169, 2010 WL 1955974, at *1 (S.D. Ga. May 13, 2010)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
Defendant to submit an amended Proposed Scheduling and Discovery Order within
fourteen (14) days from the date of this Order.
Plaintiff may proceed with his case pro se and continue his search for new
counsel during discovery. While proceeding pro se, Plaintiff is advised that he must
serve upon opposing counsel copies of all motions, pleadings, discovery, and
correspondence (including letters to the Clerk or to a judge), which are filed with the
Clerk of the Court.8 Plaintiff shall include with any paper that is filed with the Clerk
of the Court a certificate stating the date on which a true and correct copy of that
paper was mailed to Defendant or its counsel. The Clerk of the Court will not serve or
forward to the Defendant or its counsel copies of any materials filed with the Court.
In addition, the following limitations are imposed on discovery: except with
written permission of the Court first obtained, (1) interrogatories may not exceed
twenty‐five to each party9; (2) requests for production of documents and things under
Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure may not exceed ten requests to each
Fed. R. Civ. P. 5(a).
M.D. Ga., L.R. 33.1.
party10; and (3) requests for admissions under Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure may not exceed fifteen requests to each party.11
Plaintiff has the responsibility for diligently prosecuting his Complaint, and
failure to do so may result in dismissal under Rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure for failure to prosecute.
Plaintiff is required to keep the Clerk of Court advised of his current address at
all times during the pendency of this action. Failure to promptly advise the Clerk of
any change of address may result in the dismissal of Plaintiff’s Complaint.
SO ORDERED, this 2nd day of June, 2017.
S/ C. Ashley Royal
C. ASHLEY ROYAL, SENIOR JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
M.D. Ga., L.R 34.
M.D. Ga., L.R 36.
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