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Midwest Direct Logistics, Inc. v. Twin City Tanning Waterloo, LLC

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

August 3, 2015

MIDWEST DIRECT LOGISTICS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
TWIN CITY TANNING WATERLOO, LLC, Defendant.

ORDER REGARDING JURY DEMAND

JON STUART SCOLES, Chief Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Strike Defendant's Notice of Jury Demand (docket number 11) filed by Plaintiff Midwest Direct Logistics, Inc. on July 14, 2015; the Motion in Support of Jury Demand (docket number 14) filed by Defendant Twin City Tanning Waterloo, LLC on July 24; and Resistance (docket number 15) and Brief (docket number 16) filed by Midwest on July 31. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.c, the motions will be decided without oral argument.

I. RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

On March 6, 2015, Plaintiff Midwest Direct Logistics, Inc. ("Midwest") filed a complaint against Defendant Twin City Tanning Waterloo, LLC ("Twin City"), claiming damages for an alleged breach of contract. Midwest claims that Twin City owes in excess of $100, 000 for the transportation of 27 loads of commodities from Waterloo, Iowa to Woburn, Massachusetts. On April 24, Twin City filed an answer denying the material allegations in the complaint, and asserting certain affirmative defenses. Neither party demanded a jury trial in their initial pleadings.

On July 7, 2015, Twin City filed a notice of jury demand. On July 14, Midwest filed its instant motion to strike, asserting the jury demand was not made timely and, therefore, should be stricken. Twin City responded on July 24 by filing its instant motion in support of jury demand.

Meanwhile, on July 16, the Court adopted a proposed Scheduling Order and Discovery Plan submitted by the parties. The Scheduling Order noted that a jury demand had been filed, but also noted that "Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike Jury Demand on 07/14/2015." On July 20, the Court scheduled a jury trial on September 19, 2016.

II. DISCUSSION

It is apparently undisputed that the issues in this case are triable of right by a jury. Generally, a party may demand a jury trial by serving the other party with a written demand no later than 14 days after the last pleading directed to the issue is served. FED. R. CIV. P. 38(b)(1). Here, Twin City filed its answer on April 24. Accordingly, the deadline for either party to serve a jury demand was May 8. Twin City served its jury demand in this case on July 7, some 60 days after the deadline.

A party waives a jury trial unless its demand is properly served and filed. FED. R. CIV. P. 38(d). See also King v. Patterson, 999 F.2d 351, 353 (8th Cir. 1993). Issues on which a jury trial is not properly demanded are to be tried by the court. FED. R. CIV. P. 39(b). "But the court may, on motion, order a jury trial on any issue for which a jury might have been demanded." Id. Twin City concedes its jury demand was not served timely, but asks the Court to exercise its discretion and order a jury trial pursuant to RULE 39(b).

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has instructed that courts "ought to approach each application under RULE 39(b) with an open mind." Littlefield v. Fort Dodge Messenger, 614 F.2d 581, 585 (8th Cir. 1980) (quoting 9 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 2334, at 116 (1971)). "[J]ury trials ought to be liberally granted when no prejudice results." Id. While the Eighth Circuit has not articulated a legal standard under RULE 39(b), other circuits have identified five factors for the Court to consider:

(1) whether the case involves issues which are best tried to a jury;
(2) whether granting the motion would result in a disruption of the Court's schedule or that of an adverse party;
(3) the degree of prejudice to the adverse party;
(4) the length of delay in having requested a ...

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