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Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. CRST International, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

July 24, 2018

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
CRST INTERNATIONAL, INC.; and CRST EXPEDITED, INC. Defendants.

          ORDER

          C.J. Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge.

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         I. Background ...................................................................................... 2

         II. Discussion ....................................................................................... 4

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen Depositions ................................................ 4

         B. Plaintiff's Motion to Set a Date Certain .................................................. 9

         C. Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Dispositive Motion Deadline ......................... 10

         D. Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions ......................................................... 11

         E. Plaintiff's Request for Supplemental Relief Barring Defendants' Objections to Plaintiff's Reliance on Belatedly Produced Materials ............................. 14

         III. Conclusion ..................................................................................... 16

         This matter is before the Court on two motions, both filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“plaintiff”): Plaintiff's Motion to Re-Open Depositions, Set a Date Certain for Defendants to Produce All Responsive Documents and to Extend the Filing Deadline for Summary Judgment Motions, (Doc. 52); and Plaintiff's Motion for Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(d) Sanctions. (Doc. 60). CRST International, Inc., and CRST Expedited, Inc. (“defendants”), together, timely filed a resistance to each respective motion. (Docs. 53; 63). Plaintiff filed a supplement in support of its request for relief and request for supplemental relief barring defendants from objecting to plaintiff's reliance on the belatedly produced material as outside the scope of plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. 64.) Plaintiff filed a second supplement in support of its requests for relief to both reopen depositions and to impose sanctions against defendants. (Doc. 71). Defendants filed a response to plaintiff's second supplement. (Doc. 76). For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's request to reopen depositions is granted in part and denied in part; plaintiff's request to set a date certain is denied; plaintiff's request to extend plaintiff's dispositive motion deadline is granted; plaintiff's request for sanctions of attorneys' fees against defendants is denied; and plaintiff's request for a bar to an objection by defendants as to plaintiff's reliance on belatedly produced material as outside the scope of the complaint is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is seeking relief on behalf of Leon Laferriere from defendants-two large, national and international trucking companies. (See Doc. 1). In 2015, Laferriere applied for a semi-truck driver position for defendants, but was ultimately not hired. (Id., at 4-5). On March 2, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that defendants failed to accommodate Laferriere when Laferriere requested an accommodation of having his emotional support animal on the truck. (Doc. 1).

         On September 7, 2017, plaintiff served on defendants its First Set of Requests for Production of Documents. (Doc. 52, at 2-3). On March 20, 2018, plaintiff took the depositions of Nichole Moreland and Marcus Schneider. (Id., at 3). On May 30, 2018, plaintiff took additional individual and 30(b)(6) depositions. (Id.). On May 30, 2018, Ms. Karen Carlson, during her deposition, stated that in preparation for the deposition she “reviewed [defendants'] tracking [Excel] spreadsheet related to assistive animal approvals/denial statuses.” (Doc. 64-6, at 3). Plaintiff's belief was that this document had not previously been disclosed. (Id.). Discovery in this case closed on June 1, 2018. (Doc. 46, at 2). On June 5 and 6, 2018, defendants emailed plaintiff that defendants had discovered additional documents and information; defendants provided plaintiff the additional information to plaintiff in those same emails. (Doc. 52, at 3-4). One of the documents produced on June 5, 2018, was the “tracking [Excel] spreadsheet” referenced by Carlson in her deposition. (Doc. 53-1, 47 through 48). In a motion filed on June 6, 2018, plaintiff requested that the Court enter an order “reopening the depositions of Marcus Schneider, Nichole Moreland, Karen Carlson and Sara Asbe . . . at [defendants'] expense, setting a date certain prior to the reopening of said depositions for [defendants] to produce any remaining documents, and extending the dispositive motion deadline until after said depositions are completed.” (Doc. 52, at 5). On June 25, 2018, the plaintiff filed a separate motion, in which plaintiff requested that the Court enter an order imposing “sanctions under Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(d) providing that the Defendants compensate [plaintiff] for attorney time and expenses in connection with certain topics covered [by] [plaintiff's] Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(6) deposition notice and on which [defendants] failed to produce a prepared and consenting designee.” (Doc. 60, at 6). On June 26, 2018, the Court heard oral argument on the motion to reopen depositions. On June 27, 2018, following the parties' oral arguments, the Court ordered each party to submit certain supplemental materials. (Doc. 62). The Court has considered these supplemental materials. (Docs. 64; 66). In addition to filing the supplemental materials as ordered by the Court, plaintiff incorporated into its supplemental materials an additional request that the Court “bar [defendants] from objecting to [plaintiff's] reliance on [those documents produced after the close of discovery] (and the conduct described in the documents) as outside the scope of the conduct covered by [plaintiff's] Complaint in this action.” (Doc. 64, at 3). On July 12, 2018, plaintiff filed a second supplement in support of its request for relief, including as attachments two additional documents that defendants provided to plaintiff on July 10, 2018. (Doc. 71). Finally, on July 18, 2018, defendants, together, filed a response to plaintiff's second supplement in support of its request for relief. (Doc. 76). The Court will address each request in turn.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Reopen Depositions

         First, plaintiff requests that the Court reopen the depositions of Marcus Schneider, Nichole Moreland, Karen Carlson, and Sara Asbe. (Doc. 52, at 5). Before the Court can reopen discovery to allow the redeposition of specific deponents, it must first determine if plaintiff warrants any remedy. Plaintiff's motion to reopen the depositions was not timely filed prior to the close of discovery on June 1, 2018. (Docs. 46, at 2; 52). Accordingly, plaintiff must have failed to timely act because of “excusable neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). “Excusable neglect is an ‘elastic concept' that empowers courts to accept, ‘where appropriate, . . . late filings caused by inadvertence, mistake, or carelessness, as well as by intervening circumstances beyond the party's control.'” Chorosevic v. MetLife Choices, 600 F.3d 934, 946 (8th Cir. 2010) (omission in original) (quoting Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v. Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 392 (1993)). In evaluating excusable neglect, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals applies a four-factor analysis to the relevant circumstances: “(1) the possibility of prejudice to [non-movant]; (2) the length of [movant's] delay and the possible impact of that delay on judicial proceedings; (3) [movant's] reasons for delay, including whether the delay was within [its] reasonable control; and (4) whether [movant] acted in good faith.” Id. (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Turning, in this case, to the first factor, defendants would be prejudiced by the reopening of depositions for two reasons. First, reopening depositions will affect the trial date. The Court acknowledges that a delay to the trial was not sought by plaintiff, however, because a delay is a consequence of plaintiff's motion, this factor weighs in defendants' favor. Second, plaintiff will have additional time to draft its motion regardless of the ultimate value of the belatedly produced material. Again, although this is not the reason for plaintiff's request, this additional time primarily benefits plaintiff and is prejudicial to defendants.

         The second factor pertains to the length of the movant's delay and its concomitant delay on judicial proceedings. Because plaintiff filed its motion within twenty-four hours of being informed of the additional relevant material, the Court considers plaintiff's delay to be de minimis. The Court understands that reopening depositions will result in a delay on the upcoming judicial proceedings. Yet, the circumstances are that defendants failed to provide certain discoverable material prior to the close of discovery that could be of significant importance to ...


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