United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
NEW LONDON TOBACCO MARKET, INC. and FIVEMILE ENERGY, LLC, Plaintiffs,
KENTUCKY FUEL CORPORATION and JAMES C. JUSTICE COMPANIES, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the Defendants' Objection
to the Magistrate's Order [R. 348] and Plaintiffs'
Motion for Leave to Respond to Defendants' Objection [R.
351]. This Court will OVERRULE the
Defendants' objections [R. 345] and DENY
Plaintiffs' motion [R. 351].
factual background of this case has been detailed over and
over again in the many Orders this Court has issued.
[See, i.e., R. 285; R. 206; R. 321.] For the
purposes of the current motion being considered, this Court
will only update the extensive record.
March 2017, this Court entered an Order upholding
Defendants' objections to the Magistrates entry of
damages in connection with default judgment. [See R.
321.] In that Order, this Court held that Defendants should
be afforded an evidentiary hearing with regard to the damages
proved by Plaintiffs. [See R. 321.] As a result of
this Court's ruling, the Defendants moved to extend
deadlines for expert disclosures and discovery as to damages.
[R. 331.] After the matter was fully briefed, Magistrate
Judge Hanly A. Ingram denied the Defendants' motion
because Defendants “never served any timely written
discovery requests, and their deadline to do so expired
four years ago.” [R. 345 at
1.] Defendants objected [R. 348], which this Court now
judges have broad discretion over discovery and other
non-dispositive matters. While the Court can reconsider the
magistrate's orders, the Court's standard of review
is deferential. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) allows a
district court to “designate a magistrate to hear
and determine any pretrial matter pending before the
court” (emphasis added). “When a magistrate judge
determines a non-excepted, pending pretrial matter, the
district court has the authority to “reconsider”
the determination, but under a limited standard of
review.” Massey v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d
506, 509 (6th Cir. 1993) (citing 28 U.S.C. §
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), the Court will set
aside or modify a magistrate judge's order only if the
Court finds that at least a portion of the order is
“clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 72(a). “A finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co.,
333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). “The question is not whether
the finding is the best or only conclusion that can be drawn
from the evidence, or whether it is the one which the
reviewing court would draw.” Heights Community
Congress v. Hilltop Realty, Inc., 774 F.2d 135, 140 (6th
Cir. 1985). Instead, the Court considers whether there is
evidence in the record to support the initial court's
finding and whether “its construction of that evidence
is a reasonable one.” Id.
review of the record and careful consideration of the
Defendants' objections, this Court will uphold the
Magistrate's order [R. 345] and OVERRULE
Defendants' Objections [R. 348]. Defendants have not
identified any portion of the Magistrate's order which is
“clearly erroneous or contrary to law, ” Fed. R.
Civ. Pro. 72(a), and this Court agrees with the Magistrate
primarily dicta from this Court's previous opinion and
misstating this Court's holdings, the Defendants argue
they should have the opportunity to speak meaningfully
towards damages, which, to them, means re-opening discovery
to allow them to identify expert witnesses. [R. 338 at 2.]
This Court did hold that Defendants should have an
opportunity to speak meaningfully towards damages, but it did
not hold that Defendants should be permitted to essentially
start this litigation over and re-open discovery that should
have been conducted years ago. Accordingly, the
Magistrate's opinion is not in contradiction to the
Court's previous order.
Magistrate Judge made several considerations when denying
Defendants' Motion. First, he looked at past behavior,
which has been “appalling.” [R. 345 at 2.] The
Magistrate Judge emphasized, and this Court agrees, that the
Defendants will be permitted to present any evidence
regarding mitigation of damages or any other analysis they
deem proper for the Court to consider, but they will be
limited by the “strategic” decisions they made
during discovery, namely, to not participate at all. [R. 345
at 3.] The Magistrate Judge held Plaintiffs to the same
standard, that their “presentation will be constrained
by the discovery they did, or did not, make in accordance
with the Rules.” [R. 345 at 4.]
Magistrate Judge relied primarily on Nafziger v.
McDermott Int'l, Inc., 467 F.3d 514, 522 (6th Cir.
2006), in his analysis to determine if Defendants had
demonstrated excusable-neglect for not meeting earlier