LORD et al v. CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION et al
OPINION. Signed by Judge Robert B. Kugler on 10/19/2015. (dmr)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
(Doc. No. 185)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
IN RE: PAULSBORO DERAILMENT
Cynthia LORD, et al.,
CORPORATION, et al.,
Master Docket No. 13–0784
Civil No. 12–7747 (RBK/KMW)
KUGLER, United States District Judge:
This matter comes before the Court upon the motion of Defendants Consolidated Rail
Corporation (“Conrail”), Norfolk Southern Railway Company (“Norfolk Southern”) and CSX
Transportation, Inc. (“CSX”) for leave to file a motion for partial summary judgment (Doc. No.
185) against Plaintiff Zena Custis. For the following reasons, Defendants’ Motion is DENIED.
The basic facts of this case have been set forth in numerous Opinions issued by the Court
over the past nearly three years of litigation. The Court established May 22, 2015 as the deadline
for filing dispositive motions (Doc. No. 132). On May 21, 2015, Defendants filed a motion to
exclude the testimony of Plaintiff’s medical causation expert, which the Court granted after a
Daubert hearing on August 6, 2015 (Doc. Nos. 182 and 183). Norfolk Southern and CSX filed
separate motions for summary judgment on May 21, 2015 (Doc. Nos. 136 and 137), which the
Court granted on August 18, 2015 (Doc. No. 189). On August 14, 2015, Defendants1 filed this
motion seeking leave to file a partial motion for summary judgment.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 governs pretrial management and scheduling orders.
Under Rule 16(b)(4), a scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge’s consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). The burden is on the moving party to “demonstrate
good cause and due diligence.” Race Tires America, Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., 614 F.3d
57, 84 (3d Cir. 2010). Furthermore, “the ‘good cause’ standard is not a low threshold.” J.G. v.
C.M., Civ. No. 11–2887, 2014 WL 1652793, at *1 (D.N.J. Apr. 23, 2014). “[S]cheduling orders
are at the heart of case management. If they can be disregarded without a specific showing of
good cause, their utility will be severely impaired.” Koplove v. Ford Motor Co., 795 F.2d 15, 18
(3d Cir. 1986).
The existence of “good cause” depends “primarily on the diligence, or lack thereof, of the
moving party.” Siebel v. Work At Home Vintage Employees, LLC, Civ. No. 12–1199, 2013 WL
6094558, at *3 (Nov. 18, 2013). “In assessing diligence, courts ask whether the movant
possessed, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have possessed, the knowledge
necessary to file the motion . . . before the deadline expired.” Abdallah v. JetBlue Airways Corp.,
Civ. No. 14–1050, 2015 WL 3618326, at *3 (D.N.J. June 9, 2015). A court may find “good
cause” to amend the scheduling order where “the movant learns of the facts supporting [the
motion] after expiration of the relevant filing deadline[.]” United States v. Cohan, Civ. No. 3:11–
0412, 2012 WL 4758142, at * 1 (D. Conn. Oct. 5, 2012).
As Norfolk Southern and CSX are no longer parties to this case, the motion is DENIED AS
MOOT as to Norfolk Southern and CSX.
Conrail seeks leave to file a motion for partial summary judgment “in light of this Court’s
[August 6, 2015 Daubert Order] excluding all of Plaintiff’s expert opinions as to medical
causation[.]” Def.’s Br. at 1. Conrail states that because the Daubert Order “did not occur until
August 6, 2015, [Conrail is] not at all dilatory in pursuing summary judgment.” Id. at 3.
However, Conrail fails to meet its burden of demonstrating good cause to modify the Court’s
Conrail filed its motion to exclude Plaintiff’s expert on May 21, 2015. That the Court
subsequently granted that motion was entirely foreseeable and does not provide good cause to
modify the scheduling order. Conrail had the necessary knowledge, before the May 22, 2015
deadline, to file a motion for partial summary judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to produce
evidence supporting causation. As Conrail fails to demonstrate good cause pursuant to Rule
16(b)(4), its motion for leave to file a motion for partial summary judgment is DENIED.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ Motion is DENIED.
s/ Robert B. Kugler
ROBERT B. KUGLER
United States District 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?