Melancon v. Cargill Inc
ORDER AND REASONS DENYING IN PART AND DEFERRING IN PART 30 Motion for Extension of Time as set forth in document. IT IS ORDERED that plaintiff must respond in writing to the motion for summary judgment and provide thepreviously ordered responses to defendant's discovery requests no later than May 17, 2017. Plaintiff's response to the summary judgment motion should include sworn affidavits, including his own, or other evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts demonstrating that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial in this case. If no response is filed by that date, the motion for summary judgment will be deemed unopposed. The motion is DEFERRED insofar as it seeks an extension of the discovery deadline. That part of the motion will be addressed as part of the court's overall assessment of all aspects of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 when it determines the pending summary judgment motion. Signed by Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Wilkinson, Jr on 5/10/2017. (my)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CARGILL INC., D/B/A GRAIN
& OIL SEED SUPPLY CHAIN
JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR.
ORDER AND REASONS ON MOTION
Plaintiff’s “Requests for Extension of Time,” Record Doc. No. 30, are pending
before me. Defendant filed a timely opposition memorandum. Record Doc. No. 33.
Having considered the motion papers, the record and the applicable law, IT IS ORDERED
that the motion is DENIED IN PART AND DEFERRED IN PART as follows.
Plaintiff’s motion requests the extension of three deadlines, two of which have
already been extended twice to accommodate him: (1) the previously extended April 25,
2017 deadline to provide responses to defendant’s outstanding discovery requests as
required in the court’s prior order, Record Doc. No. 20; (2) the previously extended April
25, 2017 deadline to file written opposition to defendant’s pending motion for summary
judgment; and (3) the discovery completion deadline of February 9, 2017. Record Doc.
Where the court has entered a scheduling order setting a deadline, the schedule “may
be modified only for good cause and with the judge’s consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4).
“In determining whether the movant has met its burden under Rule 16(b)(4), the court
considers four factors: (1) the party’s explanation, (2) the importance of the requested
relief, (3) potential prejudice in granting the relief, and (4) the availability of a continuance
to cure such prejudice.” Choice Hotels Int’l, Inc. v. Goldmark Hospitality, LLC, No. 3:12CV-0548-D, 2014 WL 80722, at *2 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 9, 2014) (quotation omitted) (citing
S&W Enters., L.L.C. v. SouthTrust Bank of Ala., NA, 315 F.3d 533, 536 (5th Cir. 2003));
accord Borden v. United States, 537 F. App’x 570, 574 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing Reliance Ins.
Co. v. La. Land & Expl. Co., 110 F.3d 253, 257 (5th Cir. 1997); Geiserman v. MacDonald,
893 F.2d 787, 791 (5th Cir. 1990)). The good cause standard applies to discovery deadlines
established by the court, Colonial Freight Sys., Inc. v. Adams & Reese, L.L.P., 542 F.
App’x 142, 145 (5th Cir. 2013); Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials, Inc., 555 F.3d 383, 390
(5th Cir. 2009), and “require[s] the movant ‘to show that the deadlines cannot reasonably
be met despite the diligence of the party needing the extension.’” Puig v. Citibank, N.A.,
514 F. App’x 483, 487-88 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting S & W Enters., 315 F.3d at 535).
Evaluating these four factors in this case weighs heavily against a finding of good
cause as to two of the requested extensions; i.e., the April 25th deadline to respond to the
court’s prior discovery order and defendant’s pending motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff’s explanation for the requested extensions is his lawyer’s “sudden withdrawal and
lack of proper representation.” Record Doc. No. 30. The withdrawal was not sudden.
Counsel represented plaintiff for the entire ten months from the date the case was filed until
he withdrew at the discovery deadline. The stated reason for counsel’s withdrawal was
“counsel and client can no longer agree on the way this matter is to be litigated and the best
strategies going forward.” Record Doc. No. 17 at p. 1. The record contains no evidence
of “lack of proper representation.” On the contrary, plaintiff has twice appeared before this
court in person to report on the status of his representation, and he has never previously
complained of deficient representation. Plaintiff himself, not his lawyer, is the source of
the information necessary to meet these deadlines. Both the overdue summary judgment
opposition and the court-ordered discovery responses concern information and materials
that should be within plaintiff’s own knowledge, possession, custody or control. Both
deadlines have already been extended twice previously to accommodate plaintiff himself
upon his counsel’s withdrawal. Record Doc. Nos. 23 and 26.
Thus, ample time and opportunity to complete these required tasks, including two
extensions of the deadline to do so, has already been provided. As the Fifth Circuit has
held, neither lack of diligence nor a pro se litigant’s lack of knowledge or familiarity with
court rules excuses non-compliance with court orders, rules and deadlines. Puig, 514 F.
App’x at 487-88 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting S & W Enters., 315 F.3d at 535); Birl v. Estelle,
660 F.2d 592, 593 (5th Cir. 1981); Edwards v. Harris County Sheriff's Office, 864 F. Supp.
633, 637 (S.D. Tex. 1994). A pro se litigant who fails to comply with procedural rules has
the burden of establishing excusable neglect, which is a strict standard requiring proof of
more than mere ignorance. Kersh v. Derozier, 851 F.2d 1509, 1512 (5th Cir. 1988); Birl,
660 F.2d at 593. Plaintiff has not met this burden. For these reasons, plaintiff’s
explanation for his need for extension of these two deadlines is unpersuasive.
As to the second factor, the requested extensions do not appear important. The
deadline by which plaintiff was required to provide defendant with discovery responses that
comply with the court’s order compelling plaintiff to do so has lapsed. Defendant
nevertheless has been able to submit a fully supported motion for summary judgment. Like
these discovery responses, defendant should have all the information within his own
knowledge, possession, custody and control to respond to the pending motion for summary
judgment, which is based primarily on proof of plaintiff’s own poor work performance.
Plaintiff’s position and evidence as to whether defendant’s proffered reasons for its job
actions against him are legitimate and non-discriminatory or merely pretext are matters that
ought to be largely and already a matter of plaintiff’s own knowledge and testimony.
Defendant will be prejudiced by the requests by having to spend additional time and
money in defending itself, when ample time has already been permitted. Defendant has
prepared its defenses, as its pending motion demonstrates. There is no good reason why
plaintiff should not have already done the same. As pointed out above, two extensions of
these deadlines have previously been granted, together with ample opportunity for plaintiff
to obtain new representation. No further unspecified extensions of the sort sought by
plaintiff are available.
Accordingly, the motion is denied insofar as it seeks an extension of the deadline for
plaintiff to provide full and complete responses to defendant’s discovery requests and a
written opposition to defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff is hereby
provided with one final opportunity to do both, including one final opportunity to file a
written response to defendant’s motion for summary judgment. IT IS ORDERED that
plaintiff must respond in writing to the motion for summary judgment and provide the
previously ordered responses to defendant’s discovery requests no later than May 17, 2017.
Plaintiff's response to the summary judgment motion should include sworn affidavits,
including his own, or other evidentiary materials that set forth specific facts demonstrating
that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial in this case. If no response is filed by
that date, the motion for summary judgment will be deemed unopposed.
The motion is DEFERRED insofar as it seeks an extension of the discovery
deadline. That part of the motion will be addressed as part of the court’s overall assessment
of all aspects of Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 when it determines the pending summary judgment
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _________ day of May, 2017.
JOSEPH C. WILKINSON, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?