State Farm Fire and Casualty v. Helen of Troy, Limited et al

Filing 65

ORDER denying defendants' 56 Motion to Continue Trial Date by Judge Ricardo S Martinez.(RS)

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  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 10 11 12 13 STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY, as subrogee for Catherine Robinson, Plaintiff, Case No. C15-1771 RSM ORDER DENYING MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE v. 14 15 16 HELEN OF TROY, LLC, et al., Defendants. 17 This matter comes before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Continue Trial and to 18 Amend Pre-Trial Scheduling Order. Dkt. #56. Defendants request a 30 to 60 day continuance 19 20 of trial currently set for June 26, 2017, extension of all pretrial deadlines, and a limited 21 reopening of discovery, which closed on February 27, 2017. Dkt. #56 at 1-3. This request is 22 based on the recent substitution of defense counsel and certain prior deficiencies in discovery. 23 Id. at 2-3. Defendants argue their counsel “has been afforded less than three weeks to review 24 the case file” and meet pretrial deadlines. Id. at 4. Defendants state there are key witnesses 25 26 27 who remain to be deposed and argue that a second attempt at mediation might be successful. Id. at 4-5. Defendants appear to imply that there has been newly discovered evidence. 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE - 1   1 Plaintiff argues there is no newly-discovered evidence, that previous depositions have 2 been sufficient, that the discovery cutoff has long since passed, and that Defendants’ choice to 3 substitute counsel two months prior to trial does not create good cause for a continuance. Dkt. 4 #61. Plaintiff points to the local rule stating “[m]ere failure to complete discovery within the 5 6 time allowed does not constitute good cause for an extension or continuance.” LCR 16(b)(4). 7 Plaintiff argues that continuing trial this close to the trial date is prejudicial to Plaintiff and 8 witnesses. Dkt. #61 at 5. 9 10 On Reply, Defendants argue that their request “is based upon a real need to resolve outstanding discovery issues… and to ensure that this matter is litigated and disposed of, on the 11 12 merits.” Dkt. #63 at 1-2. Defendants’ substitution of counsel was apparently not for the 13 purpose of delay but resulted “from the breakdown of the attorney-client relationship.” Id. at 2. 14 Defendants argue there might be additional documents that remain to be discovered. Id. 15 Defendants reiterate that they seek mediation. Id. at 4-5. Defendants argue that they may be 16 unable to competently meet upcoming deadlines. Id. at 5. 17 18 The decision to modify a scheduling order is within the broad discretion of the district 19 court. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607 (9th Cir. 1992). For good 20 cause shown, the Court may grant a request to modify or enlarge the deadlines in a Case 21 Scheduling Order. Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). 22 23 The Court agrees that Defendants have not shown the discovery of new evidence, that 24 the discovery cutoff has long since passed, and that Defendants’ choice to substitute counsel 25 this late in the game does not create good cause. Defendants’ request to continue trial and 26 reopen discovery based on their own counsel’s mistakes in litigation ignores the obvious 27 prejudice to Plaintiffs. Defendants’ failure to complete discovery within the time allowed does 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE - 2   1 not constitute good cause. LCR 16(b)(4). The Court finds that, setting aside Defendants’ 2 discovery-related arguments, enough time remains for Defendants to prepare for trial or pursue 3 settlement. For all these reasons, Defendants have failed to show good cause. 4 Having reviewed the relevant briefing, the declarations and exhibits attached thereto, 5 6 7 and the remainder of the record, the Court hereby finds and ORDERS that Defendants’ Motion to Continue Trial and to Amend Pre-Trial Scheduling Order (Dkt. #56) is DENIED. 8 9 DATED this 19th day of May 2017. 10 11 12 13 A RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER DENYING MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE - 3

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