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Roth v. Ford Motor Company

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington

September 25, 2017

JOHN P. ROTH, JR. PLAINTIFF
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM O. BERTELSMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 36). As will be discussed below, plaintiff has not filed a response to this motion.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         A detailed recitation of the procedural history of this case is necessary to understand its current posture.

         Plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed this case on April 8, 2014, alleging products liability claims arising out of an accident that occurred while he was driving a 2004 Ford Explorer. (Doc. 1). Specifically, plaintiff alleges defects in the seat belt and air bag systems.

         The case came before the Court on its routine docket call on September 10, 2014, after which the parties filed an Agreed Litigation and Discovery Schedule. (Doc. 15). This plan set a deadline of April 1, 2015, for plaintiff to disclose his expert witnesses and provide their reports.

         On May 1, 2015, plaintiff moved for an extension of time to produce his expert witness reports. (Doc. 18). The assigned United States Magistrate Judge granted plaintiff's motion and extended the expert witness report deadline to September 1, 2015. (Doc. 21).

         On October 30, 2015, plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to withdraw based upon irreconcilable differences with plaintiff. (Doc. 23). The Magistrate Judge held a hearing on the motion on November 17, 2015, which was attended by counsel as well as plaintiff. (Doc. 25). The Magistrate Judge granted counsel's motion to withdraw, granted an extension of the deadlines to give plaintiff a reasonable time to find new counsel, and cautioned “Plaintiff that the case will move forward upon the earlier of new counsel entering an appearance or the expiration of the 60-day period for Plaintiff to obtain new counsel.” (Id. at 2).

         On January 19, 2016, plaintiff filed a notice that he had been unable to obtain new counsel. (Doc. 26). The Magistrate Judge set a telephonic conference for February 11, 2016, and ordered that plaintiff participate. (Doc. 27). However, plaintiff failed to participate in the call, so the Magistrate Judge issued a show cause order setting a hearing for February 25, 2016. (Doc. 28). Plaintiff attended the show cause hearing and stated that he had not received the Court's order setting the prior conference. (Doc. 29). The Magistrate Judge found that plaintiff had shown cause, and she gave him yet another thirty days to find new counsel.

         On March 30, 2016, the Magistrate Judge held another telephone conference, at which time plaintiff informed the Court that he believed he had retained attorney Marcus Carey to represent him. (Doc. 30).

         On April 6, 2016, the Magistrate Judge held another telephone conference. (Doc. 31). Attorney Carey entered his appearance and indicated that, after reviewing the file, he believed that he needed a further extension to find an additional expert witness. Defense counsel stated their objection to any such extension, and the Court directed the parties to brief the issue.

         Thereafter, plaintiff moved to permit the late disclosure of expert witnesses, noting that his representation of plaintiff was contingent on that motion being granted, and that the two expert witnesses previously identified by plaintiff were not properly vetted or instructed. (Doc. 32). Defendant filed a memorandum in opposition to the motion (Doc. 33), and plaintiff did not file a reply.

         On March 31, 2017, the Magistrate Judge denied plaintiff's motion to permit late disclosure of witnesses, noting that plaintiff had been given numerous extensions and that he had not been reasonably diligent in prosecuting his case. (Doc. 34).

         On May 17, 2017, the Court ordered that summary judgment motions be filed by June 16, 2017, with responses and replies to be ...


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