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Bivins v. Gibbings

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 5, 2019

Travon Lewis Bivins, Plaintiff,
v.
Brian T. Gibbings, Defendant.

          Mag. Judge Patricia T. Morris

          ORDER AFFIRMING DENIAL OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO EXTEND DISPOSITIVE MOTION DEADLINES [18] AND EXERCISING DISCRETION TO EXTEND DISPOSITIVE MOTION DEADLINES

          JUDITH E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris's Order denying Defendant's motion to extend the dispositive motion filing deadlines due to Defendant's untimeliness. (ECF No. 18.) Defendant timely objected to Judge Morris's non-dispositive Order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); E.D. Mich. L.R. 72.1(d). The Court has carefully reviewed the record along with Judge Morris's Order and concurs in the reasoning. Accordingly, because Judge Morris correctly concluded that Defendant's delay was inexcusably neglectful, the Court ADOPTS the Order denying Defendant's motion to extend dispositive motion filing deadlines.

         However, because the facts in this case are undisputed and because district courts may exercise discretion to consider untimely dispositive motions, the Court exercises its discretion in this case to EXTEND the dispositive motion deadline by thirty (30) days.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that Defendant violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizures. (ECF No. 1.) On February 6, 2019, this Court referred all pretrial matters to Magistrate Judge Morris. (ECF No. 8.) Defendant answered the complaint on April 17, 2019. (ECF No. 10.)

         On April 18, 2019, Judge Morris entered a scheduling order setting the dispositive motion deadline for November 20, 2019, and the discovery motion deadline for August 23, 2019. (ECF No. 11.) In the Court's electronic filing system, the dispositive motion deadline appeared in bright-red text next to the words “SCHEDULING ORDER.” (Id.)

         On September 24, 2019-after both deadlines had passed-Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery, arguing that Defendant had refused to respond to Plaintiff's interrogatory requests. (ECF No. 16.) Two days later, Defendant filed a motion to extend the scheduling order date so that it could file a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 17.) Defendant argued that defense attorney Michael Auten had taken over the case in June 2019, and that the April 2019 scheduling order “was never given to” him and “was not in the file.” (Id. at PageID.60-61.) Defendant also argued that Auten had checked PACER for a scheduling order but had “somehow miss[ed]” it. (Id. at PageID.61.) Defendant argued that it was entitled to an extension under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) because Auten had good cause for missing the deadlines set by the scheduling order. (Id.) Defendant also argued that it had a viable summary judgment argument, and attached an affidavit attesting to such. (Id. at PageID.62, 69.)

         To support its good-cause argument, Defendant attached an objection it had mailed to Plaintiff on August 13, 2019. (Id. at PageID.66.) Apparently, Plaintiff had sent Defendant a timely request for interrogatories, documents, and other discovery on July 23, 2019. (Id.) Defendant had responded to Plaintiff's request by noting that no discovery could take place before the parties “have conferred as required by Rule 26(f). As of this date, no Rule 26(f) conference has been held in this case. Therefore, Plaintiff's discovery requests are not permitted.” (Id. at PageID.66-67.) It does not appear that either party took further action until Plaintiff filed its motion to compel on September 24, 2019.

         On October 3, 2019, Magistrate Judge Morris issued an Order denying Defendant's Motion to Adjourn. (ECF No. 18.) Judge Morris noted that, while courts may extend deadlines after the deadlines have already passed, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(B) requires that the movant show both “excusable neglect” and “good cause” before the court will do so. (Id. at PageID.74.) Judge Morris found that Defendant was inexcusably neglectful and that it was unnecessary to reach good cause. (Id. at PageID.76.)

         Judge Morris also issued a second October 3 Order granting Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery. (ECF No. 19.) Judge Morris noted that Plaintiff's motion was also untimely, but that “[b]ecause Defendant's reasoning for his failure to respond was based on [an] erroneous assumption that no scheduling order had been issued, the motion to compel is GRANTED.” (Id. at PageID.77.)

         On October 14, 2019, Defendant filed a timely objection to Judge Morris's Order denying Defendant's motion to extend the deadlines. (ECF No. 20.)

         LAW ...


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