Singleton v. Entergy Operations Inc
ORDER AND REASONS denying 37 Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 8/31/2017. (cg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
ENTERGY OPERATIONS, INC.
SECTION “R” (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff Carrie Singleton moves the Court to extend the discovery
deadline and the deadline for dispositive and non-evidentiary pretrial
motions. 1 Plaintiff requests these extensions to depose Jay Oliver and Barry
Williams. Defendant Entergy Operations, Inc., opposes plaintiff’s motion.2
In the alternative, defendant consents to extensions of the discovery and
dispositive motions deadlines if the Court resets the trial date.3 Because the
Court finds that plaintiff has not shown good cause to extend the pretrial
deadlines, the Court denies the motion.
R. Doc. 37.
R. Doc. 40 at 4.
Id. at 5.
This is a Title VII case, in which plaintiff alleges that defendant
unlawfully terminated and retaliated against her because of her race. Trial
in this matter was originally set for November 7, 2016. The Court has reset
the trial date twice, and trial is now set for December 4, 2017. The Court has
reset pretrial deadlines four times. In its most recent scheduling order, the
Court extended the discovery deadline to August 19, 2017, solely to allow
plaintiff to depose Oliver and Williams.4 The Court noted that plaintiff had
failed to show good cause for any further extension of the discovery deadline.
The Court also extended the deadline for dispositive and non-evidentiary
pretrial motions to September 19, 2017, but made clear that the current trial
date would not be disrupted.
Plaintiff filed this motion to extend pretrial deadlines—her fifth such
motion—on August 18, the day before the discovery deadline. 5 Plaintiff again
requests additional time to depose Oliver and Williams.
plaintiff, the parties tentatively scheduled these depositions for August 16,
but defendant’s counsel informed plaintiff shortly beforehand that Oliver
was on vacation until August 20. Neither deposition went forward. Plaintiff
R. Doc. 36.
R. Doc. 37.
now moves the Court to extend the discovery deadline to September 15 and
the dispositive and non-evidentiary pretrial motions deadline to October 6.
In opposing plaintiff’s motion, defendant contends that plaintiff is at
fault for delaying discovery. 6 For example, defendant states that plaintiff
canceled the August 16 depositions without providing any excuse or reason.
Defendant further asserts that plaintiff has failed to show why these
depositions are necessary.
According to defendant, plaintiff intends to
question Williams about the lesser discipline he experienced.
Williams and plaintiff are of the same race, however, defendant argues that
any differential treatment does not support plaintiff’s racial discrimination
claim. Defendant also states that Oliver, the union steward, was not involved
in the decision to terminate plaintiff. Although defendant’s primary position
is that plaintiff’s motion should be denied, defendant alternatively consents
to extending pretrial deadlines if the trial date is also reset.7
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) “authorizes the district court to
control and expedite pretrial discovery through a scheduling order.”
R. Doc. 40 at 2-4.
Id. at 5.
Geiserman v. MacDonald, 893 F.2d 787, 790 (5th Cir. 1990). Under Rule
16(b), a scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge’s consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). “To show good cause, the party
seeking to modify the scheduling order has the burden of showing ‘that the
deadlines cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party
needing the extension.’” Squyres v. Heico Cos., L.L.C., 782 F.3d 224, 237
(5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Filgueira v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 734 F.3d 420, 422
(5th Cir. 2013) (per curiam)).
In Geiserman, the Fifth Circuit described four factors to determine
whether good cause existed for an untimely designation of expert witnesses:
(1) the explanation for the failure to adhere to the deadline; (2) the
importance of the proposed modification of the scheduling order; (3) the
potential prejudice that could result from allowing the modification; and
(4) the availability of a continuance to cure that prejudice. 893 F.2d at 791
(citing Bradley v. United States, 866 F.2d 120, 125 (5th Cir. 1989)); accord
Squyres, 782 F.3d at 237. The Fifth Circuit has cited the Geiserman factors
when a party seeks to extend discovery on the eve of the discovery deadline.
See Squyres, 782 F.3d at 237. Accordingly, the Court will analyze the four
Geiserman factors to determine whether plaintiff has shown good cause for
her request to extend the discovery deadline and the deadline for dispositive
and non-evidentiary pretrial motions.
With regard to the first factor, plaintiff has not provided a convincing
explanation for her failure to comply with the scheduling order. Plaintiff has
already asked for, and received, four extensions of the discovery deadline.
Plaintiff contends that a further extension is necessary to allow her to depose
Oliver and Williams. But plaintiff has failed to explain why she could not
conduct these depositions within the Court’s existing deadlines.
previous scheduling order, the Court gave plaintiffs a month to conduct two
depositions. Plaintiff neither noticed these depositions nor subpoenaed the
witnesses. Thus, the first Geiserman factor weighs against the extension of
the pretrial deadlines. See Hernandez v. Mario’s Auto Sales, Inc., 617 F.
Supp. 2d 488, 494 (S.D. Tex. 2009) (finding that a party’s “lack of diligence
with regard to scheduling [a] witness’s deposition precludes it from having
the opportunity to depose th[e] witness outside of the discovery period”).
As to the second factor, plaintiff does not articulate why either Oliver’s
or Williams’s testimony is important.
Defendant argues that Oliver’s
testimony is not important because Oliver was not involved in plaintiff’s
termination, and that Williams’s testimony will not help plaintiff because
Williams is not a suitable comparator. As the party seeking modification of
the Court’s scheduling order, plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating
good cause. See Squyres, 782 F.3d at 237. Given plaintiff’s failure to explain
the importance of the depositions and defendant’s arguments against their
importance, the second factor weighs slightly against extension of the
pretrial deadlines. See Complete Prop. Res., LLC v. City of New Orleans, No.
04-3267, 2006 WL 197006, at *2 (E.D. La. Jan. 25, 2006) (denying leave to
file untimely expert report because “[w]hile plaintiff’s damages may be of
importance to its case, plaintiff has not established that an expert is
As to the third Geiserman factor, the proposed extensions would
prejudice defendant in two ways. First, defendant would have to expend time
and resources on depositions it opposes. See Hernandez, 617 F. Supp. 2d at
497 (“Whenever additional depositions are conducted, both parties must
expend additional resources and invest time in conducting them. Thus,
prejudice generally results to the party opposing additional depositions.”).
Second, defendant has already filed a motion for summary judgment without
the benefit of the deposition testimony. See O’Neal v. Cargill, Inc., No. 157183, 2016 WL 7407177, at *2 (E.D. La. Dec. 22, 2016) (“[G]ranting the
motion would be highly prejudicial to Cargill, which has complied with its
obligations under the court’s scheduling order and the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and filed a well-supported, timely motion for summary
judgment.”). The proposed extensions would also prejudice both parties in
light of the approaching trial date. Unless the Court resets the trial date, the
parties would have to prepare for trial while awaiting the Court’s decision on
dispositive motions. The third factor therefore weighs against extension of
the pretrial deadlines.
Finally, turning to the fourth Geiserman factor, the Court finds that
continuing the pretrial deadlines as well as the trial itself would cure some,
though not all, of the prejudice described earlier. Resetting the trial date, as
defendant proposes, would mitigate the prejudice of preparing for trial while
awaiting the Court’s decision on dispositive motions. On the other hand,
plaintiff’s requested extension of the discovery deadline would require
defendant to expend additional time and resources regardless of when trial
commences. “Moreover, a continuance would not deter future dilatory
behavior, nor serve to enforce . . . court imposed scheduling orders.”
Geiserman, 893 F.2d at 792 (citing Bradley v. United States, 866 F.2d 120,
126 (5th Cir. 1989)). Thus, this factor also weighs against extension of the
Because all four Geiserman factors weigh against extension of the
pretrial deadlines in this case, plaintiff has failed to show good cause to
modify the scheduling order.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES plaintiff’s motion to
extend the discovery deadline and the deadline for dispositive and nonevidentiary pretrial motions.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of August, 2017.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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