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Daniels v. The City of Sioux City

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

March 4, 2014

DaCOSTA DANIELS, individually and DaCOSTA DANIELS as mother, guardian and next friend of Y.A., a minor child, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF SIOUX CITY, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

LEONARD T. STRAND, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before me on two related motions: (1) defendants' motion (Doc. No. 25) to strike plaintiffs' expert witness disclosures and (2) plaintiffs' motion (Doc. No. 26) to extend the deadline for their expert witness disclosures. No party has requested oral argument and, in any event, I find that such arguments are not necessary. See Local Rule 7(c). The motions are fully submitted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs DaCosta Daniels, individually, and DaCosta Daniels, as mother, guardian and next friend of Y.A., a minor, filed this action on July 29, 2013. The complaint (Doc. No. 2) describes events that allegedly occurred on August 8, 2011, during DaCosta Daniels' arrest by Joshua Tyler, a Sioux City Police Officer. Daniels alleges that Tyler employed excessive force in making the arrest. In Counts I and II, she asserts claims against Tyler for common law assault and, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, deprivation of her constitutional rights. In Count III, Daniels asserts a claim against the City alleging that it failed to properly train Tyler and that Tyler was acting pursuant to a policy or custom of the City.

The complaint also describes events that allegedly occurred on or about February 23, 2012, when Y.A., who is Daniels' daughter, was attending classes at West Middle School in Sioux City. Plaintiffs allege that a video of Daniels' arrest by Tyler was shown to Y.A.'s entire class during class time. Counts IV and V assert claims on behalf of Y.A. against both the City and The Sioux City Community School District (the District) for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Finally, Count VI consists of a request for punitive damages against all defendants.

Tyler and the City filed an answer (Doc. No. 12) on August 20, 2013. The answer denies wrongdoing and liability and includes various defenses. The City then filed a motion (Doc. No. 13) to bifurcate claims and to stay discovery and trial. The City asked that the claims against it be separated from the claims against Tyler, with the claims against Tyler being tried first. It further sought a stay of discovery on the claims against the City pending resolution of the claims against Tyler. I denied that motion on September 13, 2013. See Doc. No. 21.

Meanwhile, the District filed a pre-answer motion (Doc. No. 14) to dismiss the claims against it for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). On November 8, 2013, Judge Bennett granted that motion, thus dismissing the District from this case and leaving the City and Tyler as the only remaining defendants. See Doc. No. 23.

On November 5, 2013, I approved and entered the parties' joint, proposed scheduling order and discovery plan (Doc. No. 22) which, among other things, established a deadline of January 31, 2014, for plaintiffs to disclose expert witnesses. Trial is scheduled to begin January 12, 2015. See Doc. No. 24.

THE PRESENT DISPUTE

On their deadline of January 31, 2014, plaintiffs served an expert witness disclosure in which they state that they have retained Robert T. Johnson as an expert. See Doc. No. 25-2. They provided Mr. Johnson's curriculum vitae, his fee schedule and a list of other cases in which he has testified during the past four years. Id. However, they did not disclose his opinions in this case and, thus, did not itemize the facts and data he considered in forming those opinions. Instead, they stated that they were not yet in a position to disclose that information because they had retained Mr. Johnson just four days earlier. Id.

Defendants filed their motion to strike on February 21, 2014, correctly pointing out that plaintiffs were not in compliance with the expert disclosure requirements imposed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2)(B). This motion prompted plaintiffs' motion to extend their disclosure deadline, in which plaintiffs seek an extension to March 31, 2014.

Plaintiffs contend that they were unable to fully comply with Rule 26(a)(2)(B) by January 31, 2014, because they have limited resources and it took a great deal of time for them to locate an expert they could afford. Plaintiffs also attempt to shift blame to the defendants, for various reasons. Finally, they note that their attorney's first child was born two days after the January 31, 2014, deadline, causing further distractions. See Doc. No. 26-1 at 4-5. Defendants argue that these explanations do not rise to the level of good cause, as necessary to amend a scheduling order. Defendants also contend that they will suffer unfair prejudice if plaintiffs' requested extension is granted.

ANALYSIS

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) guides the court's issuance and modification of pretrial scheduling orders and provides that the court "must issue a scheduling order, " which "must limit the time to join other parties, amend the pleadings, complete discovery, and file motions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(1) and (3)(A). The scheduling order "may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). In ...


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