Mueller v. Barton et al.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER -...IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant Barton's Motion for Additional Time to Respond to Plaintif's Request for Admissions Rule 36(a)(3), Fed. R. Civ. P., is GRANTED. [Doc. 71] IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant Barton shall serve his answers to plaintiff's Requests for Admissions by September 26, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.. Signed by District Judge Charles A. Shaw on 9/22/2014. (MRC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
DENNIS J. BARTON, III,
No. 4:13-CV-2523 CAS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on defendant Dennis J. Barton, III’s Motion for Additional
Time to Respond to Plaintiff’s Request for Admissions pursuant to Rule 36(a)(3), Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. Plaintiff opposes the motion and it is fully briefed. For the following reasons, the
motion will be granted.
Plaintiff served defendant with written discovery including Requests for Admissions under
Rule 36, Fed. R. Civ. P., on July 29, 2014. Defendant’s answers were due thirty days later. See
Rule 36(a)(3), Fed. R. Civ. P. On August 11, 2014, defendant filed a Motion to Stay Discovery
based on his then-pending Motion to Dismiss plaintiff’s complaint, and requested an additional
thirty days from the Court’s order on the Motion to Dismiss to respond to the pending discovery.
Plaintiff opposed the motion to stay.
Defendant Barton did not present his Motion to Stay Discovery to the Court at its monthly
Discovery Motion Docket, although the Case Management Order (“CMO”) states in pertinent part,
“The parties shall present disputed discovery motions to the Court at its monthly Discovery Motion
Docket. No rulings will issue on disputed discovery motions not presented at the Discovery Motion
Docket. CMO at 2, ¶ 4(e) (Doc. 57).1 Defendant’s Motion to Stay Discovery was a disputed
discovery motion. In accordance with the CMO and the undersigned’s Judge’s Requirements, the
Court did not issue a ruling on the Motion to Stay Discovery. On September 12, 2014, the Court
issued a Memorandum and Order that granted in part and denied in part the Motion to Dismiss and
denied the Motion to Stay Discovery as moot. (Doc. 64).
Subsequently, counsel entered an appearance on behalf of defendant Barton and filed the
instant motion for additional time to October 1, 2014 to respond to plaintiff’s Requests for
Admissions. Plaintiff responds that defendant “took a dangerous gamble” in electing to ask for the
stay of discovery, and argues that because defendant failed to respond timely to the requested
admissions they are deemed admitted under Rule 36(a)(3). Plaintiff asserts that defendant’s only
option is to move to have the admissions withdrawn under Rule 36(b), but states he has not done so
and offers no basis for withdrawal under the Rule. Defendant replies that Rule 36(a)(3) permits a
In addition, the undersigned’s Judge’s Requirements include the following provision
regarding disputed discovery motions:
10. Discovery Motion Docket.
Judge Shaw issues rulings on disputed discovery motions only at a monthly
Discovery Motion Docket (“DMD”). The moving party is responsible for filing and
serving a notice of hearing setting a disputed discovery motion on the DMD. The
notice must be filed at least seven (7) days in advance of the docket. Counsel should
contact chambers to confirm the date, time and location of the next DMD prior to
filing a notice of hearing. Motions are heard in the order that counsel arrive in the
courtroom. Unless all counsel consent, Judge Shaw will not address a motion at the
DMD if the opposing party has not had the opportunity to file a response within the
time allowed by the Local Rules. Disputed discovery motions which are not noticed
for hearing at the DMD within forty-five days of filing may be denied without
Charles A. Shaw, Judge’s Requirements at 3
court to order a longer time for responding, and further replies that even if the requests are deemed
admitted, he should be permitted to withdraw them under Rule 36(b) because (1) plaintiff does not
claim she will suffer any prejudice by withdrawal of the admissions or the grant of additional time
to respond, and (2) defendant will be highly prejudiced if the admissions are allowed to stand, as the
case could potentially be determined by the technical admissions. Defendant argues that several of
plaintiff’s Requests are “inapposite” and having defendant admit them as “facts” would do nothing
to promote the presentation of the merits in this case, and that presentation of the merits would be
best served by granting him additional time to file responses or, in the alternative, allowing him to
withdraw and amend the admissions.
As a threshold matter, the Court in the exercise of its discretion will address defendant’s
motion for extension of time to respond to plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions on the briefs and not
at its monthly Discovery Motion Docket, because the motion does not address a substantive
discovery dispute but rather an issue of timeliness that is fully briefed and to which oral argument
would add nothing. Further, because the next Discovery Motion Docket is set for tomorrow,
September 23, 2014, defendant would not be able to present his motion until the next docket on
October 16, 2014, which would result in unnecessary delay in the case and could interfere with the
CMO’s deadlines. The parties are advised, however, that the Court’s standing rules for discovery
motions remain in full force and effect for future discovery-related motions.
Turning to the merits of defendant Barton’s motion, the Eighth Circuit has stated that district
courts have the power to allow a longer time for responding to requests for admission, and therefore
may permit the filing of answers that would otherwise be untimely. Gutting v. Falstaff Brewing
Corp., 710 F.2d 1309, 1312 (8th Cir. 1983). As a result, Barton’s failure to timely answer plaintiff’s
Requests for Admissions does not require the Court automatically to deem all matters admitted. Id.
A late response is treated as being equivalent to a withdrawal of an admission, and the test for
permitting withdrawal of admissions under Rule 36(b), Fed. R. Civ. P., is applied. Id.
Under Rule 36(b), an admission may be withdrawn “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.” Rule 36(b)’s provision for the withdrawal of
admissions “emphasizes the importance of having the action resolved on the merits, while at the
same time assuring each party that justified reliance on an admission in preparation for trial will not
operate to his prejudice.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(b) advisory committee’s note to 1970 amendment.
Defendant’s predicament is of his own making, because he neither noticed his Motion to Stay
Discovery for hearing on the Court’s Discovery Motion Docket, nor answered the Requests for
Admissions in a timely manner. Nonetheless, plaintiff has not argued she would be prejudiced by
the grant of additional time to answer her Request for Admissions, and no prejudice is likely because
the CMO’s discovery deadline does not expire until November 17, 2014. In the absence of
prejudice, the preference for resolution of disputed issues on the merits weighs in favor of granting
defendant Barton additional time to serve his answers. Plaintiff’s Requests are straightforward and
not burdensome. Defendant will be ordered to serve his answers on plaintiff by September 26, 2014.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that defendant Barton’s Motion for Additional Time to
Respond to Plaintiff’s Request for Admissions Rule 36(a)(3), Fed. R. Civ. P., is GRANTED. [Doc.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendant Barton shall serve his answers to plaintiff’s
Requests for Admissions by September 26, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.
CHARLES A. SHAW
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 22nd day of September, 2014.
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