Federoff et al v. Geisinger Clinic et al

Filing 36

ORDER - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants' 26 Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, without prejudice. Signed by Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann on 5/10/2022. (jr)

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Case 4:21-cv-01903-MWB Document 36 Filed 05/10/22 Page 1 of 2 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA THEODORE FEDEROFF, et al., No. 4:21-CV-01903 Plaintiffs, (Chief Judge Brann) v. GEISINGER CLINIC, et al., Defendants. MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER MAY 10, 2022 On December 3, 2021, just over a week after this Court denied the Geisinger Employees’ motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the Health System’s vaccinate-or-test program, Geisinger moved for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.1 This summary judgment motion, unlike most in federal court, was not preceded by a Rule 12(b) motion, an answer, or even discovery. But typicality and permissibility are not one in the same. Rule 56 provides that “[u]nless a different time is set by local rule or the court orders otherwise, a party may file a motion for summary judgment at any time until 30 days after the 1   See Doc. 26. Case 4:21-cv-01903-MWB Document 36 Filed 05/10/22 Page 2 of 2 close of all discovery.” So “[n]othing precludes either party from moving for summary judgment before the defendant answers the complaint.”2 Yet while parties are permitted to file Rule 56 motions in the early stages of litigation, the decision to entertain them remains in the sound discretion of the District Court.3 And this Court believes that Geisinger’s motion is currently premature. Geisinger has identified numerous flaws in the Employees’ case. But these shortcomings are best addressed in a 12(b)(6) motion—after the Employees have had an opportunity to amend and without the complications posed by an undeveloped factual record. AND NOW IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment (Doc. 26) is DENIED, without prejudice. BY THE COURT: s/ Matthew W. Brann Matthew W. Brann Chief United States District Judge  2 3   Rule 56. Summary Judgment, 2 Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules and Commentary (Feb. 2021). Ferreiras v. York County, Pennsylvania, 2006 WL 1967365, at *2 (M.D. Pa. July 12, 2006) (McClure, J.) (“the district court is empowered with discretion to decide whether the movant’s motion [for summary judgment] is ripe”); see also 10A Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 2718 (4th ed.) (“Nonetheless, even though the rule itself does not specify a time before which a summary-judgment motion cannot be made by a defending party, there may be circumstances in which a very early motion may be deemed premature because the issues need further development. Thus, as is true for motions by claimants, it is within the trial court’s discretion to deny a motion for summary judgment without prejudice to its being renewed at a later time and the court may grant a renewed motion upon a showing of good cause.”). 2

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