United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge
than two years ago, Plaintiffs in this Fair Labor Standards
Act case filed their complaint. Since then, the case has
taken a routine course in navigating the waters of federal
court. Discovery has occurred. The parties have briefed a
Motion for Summary Judgment. Several status conferences have
been held, and depositions taken. All part and parcel of
federal court litigation.
stage in its voyage, the case remains on track. The parties
indicate they have reached a settlement on the collective
action claims; only individual plaintiffs remain. And on
those claims, discovery is set to close in a matter of days.
Dispositive motions must be filed within a month, and trial
is set for later this year. Final resolution is on the
where Plaintiffs wish to take a detour. Taking that detour
requires a modification of the Scheduling Order. So
Plaintiffs ask the Court to extend discovery deadlines, push
back the time for filing dispositive motions, and vacate the
trial date. [DE 62]. Defendants oppose the motion. [DE 63].
After all, Defendants argue, it is time for this case to end.
And as this court recently emphasized, “[a] scheduling
order maintains orderly proceedings and is ‘not a
frivolous piece of paper, idly entered, which can be
cavalierly disregarded . . . without peril.'”
Century Indem. Co. v. Begley. Co., 323 F.R.D. 237,
240 (E.D. Ky. 2018) (quoting Birge v. Dolar Gen
Corp., No. 04-2531 B, 2006 WL 133480, at *1 (W.D. Tenn.
Jan. 12, 2006)). This Court will not cavalierly disregard the
scheduling order. Instead, the Court will stay the course and
keep this case on its current journey. Thus, for the reasons
stated herein, Plaintiffs' Motion for Extension of Time
to Complete Discovery [DE 62] is DENIED.
FLSA case involves current and former employees at
Nature's Expressions Landscaping, Inc.
(“NEL”), a landscape architecture firm. Several
named plaintiffs filed this action on March 8, 2016, In
Jessamine Circuit Court seeking unpaid overtime wages. [DE
1]. Plaintiffs allege that NEL assigns each employee a daily
wage and then divides the daily amount by the number of
“quarter days” the employee worked. [DE 1-1, pp.
8-9]. This would mean that NEL did not pay its employees
time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of forty, which
would violate the FLSA.
removed the case to federal court in March 2016. [DE 1]. NEL
denies the allegations and claims it pays employees
time-and-a-half for all hours worked in excess of eight each
day. If true, NEL would be in compliance with the FLSA.
Plaintiffs pursued this case as a collective action. [DE 1].
Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Conditionally Certify the Class
under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) in June 2016. [DE 14]. The
Court granted that Motion and the opt-in process began. [DE
26]. Once several groups of plaintiffs filed notices to opt
in to this lawsuit, NEL filed a Motion for Summary Judgment
or, in the alternative, Decertification of the class. [DE
39]. The Court granted in part and denied in part that Motion
in an October 2017 Memorandum Opinion and Order. [DE 48].
months later, the parties submitted a Joint Status Report
with proposed deadlines for the case. [DE 51]. The Court
considered the Report when it issued a Scheduling Order
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16. [DE 52].
Among other deadlines, the Scheduling Order sets a June 1,
2018 deadline for discovery, requires dispositive motions to
be filed on or before July 2, 2018, and sets a trial date for
October 2018. [DE 52].
then, the parties have reached an agreement to settle the
collective action claims. [DE 62]. Only the claims of the
individual plaintiffs remain. Neither party expressed any
concern with the Scheduling Order until May 29, 2018-three
days before discovery was set to close. [DE 62]. But
Plaintiffs contend that the settlement process took a
significant amount of time and they now need more time for
discovery on the individual claims. [Id.].
Defendants oppose the Motion, arguing that Plaintiffs have
not demonstrated good cause and that an extension would
result in prejudice to NEL. [DE 63]. The Motion is now ripe
Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, district
courts issue scheduling orders in civil cases. A case
schedule serves many purposes, and it must include a
limit on the time to complete discovery. Fed R. Civ. P.
16(b)(3)(a). Rule 16 “ensure[s] that ‘at some
point both the parties and the pleadings will be
fixed.'” Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888,
906 (6th Cir. 2003) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 16, 1983 advisory
allows modifications of scheduling orders “only for
good cause and with the judge's consent.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). “[A] court choosing to modify
the schedule upon a showing of good cause, may do so only if
it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the
party seeking the extension.” Leary, 349 F.3d
at 906. “The primary measure of Rule 16's good
cause standard is the moving party's diligence in
attempting to meet the case management order's
requirements.” Inge v. Rock Fin. Corp., 281
F.3d 613, 625 (6th Cir. 2002) (internal quotations omitted).
Courts also consider prejudice to the party opposing the
modification. Id.; see also Ross v. Am. Red
Cross, 567 Fed.Appx. 296, 306 (6th Cir. 2014). Good
cause does not exist where a plaintiff fails to explain or
provides no excuse for his delay. Leary, 349 F.3d at
Plaintiffs argue that they were unable to meet the Scheduling
Order deadlines because counsel “has devoted a
significant amount of time in this matter to pursuing and
resolving the collective action claims of all
Plaintiffs.” [DE 62-1, p. 2]. The Motion fails to
explain how negotiating a settlement for some Plaintiffs
precluded counsel from meeting the Scheduling Order
deadlines. In fact, Plaintiffs never explain what diligence
they exercised in attempting to meet the case
schedule deadlines. Inge, 281 F.3d at 625.
Plaintiffs do not tell the court why the deadlines could not
“reasonably be met.” Leary, 349 F.3d at
906. As NEL argues in its response, Plaintiffs have failed
several times to say whom they wish ...