BRANSON v. CELADON TRUCKING SERVICES, INC.
ORDER granting 19 Motion to Withdraw 18 Notice and granting 20 Motion for Extension of Time to 11/7/2014 for Plaintiff to respond to Defendant's discovery requests. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 11/3/2014. (CBU)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
CELADON TRUCKING SERVICES, INC.,
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO WITHDRAW AND MOTION FOR
ENLARGEMENT OF TIME
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Withdraw and Quash
Defendant’s Deemed Admission Responses of Plaintiff, [Dkt. 19], and Plaintiff’s Motion for
Enlargement of Time. [Dkt. 20.] For the reasons described below, the Court GRANTS
On August 13, 2014, Celadon Trucking Services, Inc. (“Defendant”) served requests for
admission, interrogatories, and requests for production on Carol Branson (“Plaintiff”). [Dkt. 19
at 1.] The responses were due on September 15, 2014, but Plaintiff did not respond by this date.
[Id.] Approximately two weeks later, Plaintiff sought from Defendant’s counsel a 30-day
extension of time to respond, [id.], but Defendant’s counsel refused to grant the request and
instead filed a notice that the requests for admissions were deemed admitted. [Dkt. 18.] Plaintiff
tendered her responses to Plaintiff’s requests for admissions on October 5, 2014. [Dkt. 19 at 1.]
That same day, Plaintiff filed a motion to withdraw the admissions, [Dkt. 19], and a motion
requesting a 30-day enlargement of time to respond to Defendant’s remaining discovery
requests. [Dkt. 20.]
Following service of a request for admissions, a “matter is admitted unless, within 30
days after being served, the party to whom the request is directed serves on the requesting party a
written answer or objection.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3). Plaintiff in this case did not respond to the
August 13, 2014 requests for admission until October 5, 2014, [Dkt. 19 at 1], after the 30-day
window for responding. Thus, as Defendant notes, the request for admission were deemed
admitted by operation of law. [Dkt. 23 at 1.]
A court, however, may permit withdrawal of an admission “if it would promote the
presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice
the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on the merits.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(b).
The party who obtained the admissions bears the burden of showing that withdrawal would result
in prejudice; the party seeking the withdrawal bears the burden of demonstrating that withdrawal
would promote decision of the matter on its merits. Centrifugal Acquisition Corp. v. Moon, 267
F.R.D. 240, 241 (E.D. Wis. 2010).
Defendant in this case has not met its burden of demonstrating prejudice if the admissions
are withdrawn. Defendant relies on a single case in which this Magistrate Judge denied a motion
to withdraw admissions made three months after the response to requests for admissions were
due. [Dkt. 23 at 2 (citing Wilson v. Comlux Am., No. 1:11-CV-00980-RLY-MJD, 2013 WL
593974, at *2 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 14, 2013)).] There, however, the opposing party had filed for
summary judgment in partial reliance on the admissions and discovery had already closed.
Wilson, 2013 WL 593974, at *3. Thus, had the court allowed the withdrawal, the opposing party
would have faced considerable difficulty “as a result of the sudden need to obtain evidence to
prove the matter it had previously relied upon as answered.” Id. at *2 (citation omitted).
The current situation presents no such difficulties. Neither party has yet moved for
summary judgment, liability discovery does not close until April 1, 2015, and dispositive
motions are not due until May 5, 2015. [Dkt. 12 at 6.] Defendant thus has not relied on the
deemed admissions to the same extent as the party in Wilson, and would not face similar
prejudice if the admissions were withdrawn.
Plaintiff, meanwhile, bears the burden of showing that withdrawal would promote
decision of the matter on its merits. Moon, 267 F.R.D. at 241. Plaintiff claims that allowing the
withdrawal would “promote the presentation of the merits of this action,” [Dkt. 19 at 2], but
Defendant argues that Plaintiff did not provide any “facts or citations to any case law that”
support this claim. [Dkt. 23 at 2.] Defendant is correct that a party cannot meet its burden of
showing that withdrawal of the admissions would promote the presentation of the merits of the
action by simply stating the withdrawal would “promote the presentation of the merits of this
action.” Nevertheless, the Court may take notice of the fact that denial of the Plaintiff’s request
to withdraw the admissions would adversely impact Plaintiff’s ability to present her case on the
Furthermore, Plaintiff explained in her motion that the failure to timely respond was due
to a calendaring error on the part of Plaintiff’s counsel. [Dkt. 19 at 1.] Thus, this is not a case
where the admitting party provided evasive or incomplete responses that might obfuscate the
merits of the suit. Instead, Plaintiff’s counsel apparently made an honest error, and allowing the
requests to remain admitted would elevate the technicalities of deadlines above the merits of the
underlying claims. This would conflict with the judicial preference for deciding suits on their
merits. See, e.g., Webber v. Eye Corp., 721 F.2d 1067, 1071 (7th Cir. 1983) (“There is a wellestablished public policy favoring hearing cases on the merits.”); Beshear v. Weinzapfel, 474
F.2d 127, 132 (7th Cir. 1973) (“[C]ourts have been created for the very purpose of trying cases
on their merits.”). Accordingly, the Court will GRANT Plaintiff’s Motion to Withdraw and
Quash Defendant’s Deemed Admission Responses of Plaintiff. [Dkt. 19.]
Plaintiff’s remaining motion, [Dkt. 20], asks for an enlargement of time to respond to
Defendant’s requests for admission, interrogatories, and requests for production. [Id. at 1.] A
party generally has thirty days to respond to such discovery requests, but a court by order may
grant a longer time to respond. Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2) (interrogatories); Fed. R. Civ. P
34(b)(2)(A) (requests for production); Fed R. Civ. P. 36(a)(3) (requests for admission). Further,
“[d]istrict courts enjoy extremely broad discretion in controlling discovery.” Weeks v. Samsung
Heavy Indus. Co., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997). Defendant here has not argued that an
enlargement of time will prejudice it in any way, [see Dkt. 24], and the Court notes that the
liability discovery deadline remains almost five months away. The Court thus sees no reason to
deny the enlargement of time, and the Court will GRANT Plaintiff’s motion.
For the reasons stated above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Withdraw and
Quash Defendant’s Deemed Admission Responses of Plaintiff, [Dkt. 19], and Plaintiff’s Motion
for Enlargement of Time. [Dkt. 20.] The time for Plaintiff to respond to Defendant’s abovedescribed discovery requests is hereby extended to and including November 7, 2014.
Charles Nathaniel White, Jr.
LAW OFFICE OF CHARLES WHITE
Stephanie Lynn Cassman
LEWIS WAGNER LLP
Theresa Renee Parish
LEWIS WAGNER LLP
LEWIS WAGNER LLP
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