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Todd v. Hyster-Yale Group, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 1, 2019

SHARON F. TODD, Plaintiff,
v.
HYSTER-YALE GROUP, INC., et. al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH M. HOOD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Sharon Todd, through counsel, has moved to amend certain dates in the scheduling order in this action. [DE 16, 17, 18]. Todd has also moved for a hearing on the pending motions. [DE 19]. The Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motion to amend the scheduling order. [DE 22].

         But here, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate good cause to justify amending the current deadlines in the Court's scheduling order. As a result, the Plaintiff's motions [DE 16; DE 18; and DE 19] are DENIED.

         I. Procedural Background

         On June 29, 2018, Plaintiff Sharon Todd filed this employment discrimination action in Madison Circuit Court against her former employer Hyster-Yale Group, Inc., and three individuals who either were or are employed at Hyster-Yale. [DE 1-1]. The Defendants removed the action to federal court based on arising under jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, on July 25, 2018. [DE 1].

         On January 2, 2019, the parties submitted a joint report of their Rule 26(f) planning meeting. [DE 12]. The report states that the parties conferred on December 17, 2018. [DE 12 at 1, Pg ID 72]. The report of the parties' planning meeting was filed by counsel for the Defendants with permission from counsel for the Plaintiff. [Id. at 7, Pg ID 78]. In response, the Court entered a scheduling order on January 2, 2019. [DE 13].

         Subsequently, on April 3, 2019, the Plaintiff submitted a motion to amend or correct the scheduling order. [DE 16]. Then, on April 12, 2019, the Plaintiff filed a supplement to the motion to amend [DE 17], a motion for extension of time for expert witness disclosure [DE 18], and a motion for a hearing on the pending motions [DE 19].

         The Court ordered an expedited briefing schedule on these motions. [DE 20]. The Defendants responded in opposition to Plaintiff's motion to amend. [DE 21]. The Plaintiff has replied. [DE 23]. As a result, the pending motions are ripe for review.

         II. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that “the district judge . . . must issue a scheduling order: (A) after receiving the parties' report under Rule 26(f).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(1)(A). The Rule is designed, in part, to ensure that “at some point both the parties and the pleadings will be fixed.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16, 1983 advisory committee's notes.

         The Federal Rules also provide that a scheduling order “may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).[1] This Court's local rules generally allow parties to extend deadlines by agreed order but require a motion for an extension of deadlines absent an agreed order. LR 7.1(b).

         The Sixth Circuit has instructed that “[t]he 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 Financial Corp., 281 F.3d 613, 625 (6th Cir. 2002). “A modification of the scheduling order by leave of court is appropriate only when a relevant deadline ‘cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.'” E.E.O.C. v. U-Haul Intern., Inc., 286 F.R.D. 322, 325 (W.D. Tenn. 2012) (quoting Leary v. Daeschner, 349 F.3d 888, 909 (6th Cir. 2003)).

         The Court must also consider “possible prejudice to the party opposing the motion.” Id. Even so, “the main focus should remain on the moving party's exercise of diligence.” Cooke v. AT&T Corp., No. 2:05-cv-374, 2007 WL 188568, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 22, 2007) (citing Andretti v. Borla Performance Indus., Inc., 426 F.3d 824, 830 (6th Cir. 2005)).

         Finally, this Court has recognized both the importance of scheduling orders and the requirement for a showing of good cause to amend a scheduling order absent agreement of the parties. The Court has reiterated that “[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. Dollar Gen. Corp., No. 04-2531 B, 2006 WL 133480, at *1 (W.D. Tenn. Jan. 12, 2006)). “Scheduling Order deadlines are important, and ‘parties are obliged to follow them.'” Adams v. Natures Expressions Landscaping, Inc., No. 5:16-cv-00098-JMH, 2018 WL 2452179, at *3 (E.D. Ky. May 31, 2018) (quoting Century Indem. Co., 323 F.R.D. at 239)).

         III. Analysis

         In support of the motions to amend, the Plaintiff advances three primary justifications for allowing amendments of the scheduling order. First, the Plaintiff argues that the scheduling order is “not workable” and that the deadlines for joining additional parties and disclosure of expert witnesses should occur near the end of discovery. Second, counsel for the Plaintiff argues that he has been engaged in several other time consuming professional and personal matters, that he is a solo practitioner, and has a “new, untrained staff.” Third, Plaintiff contends that the Defendants have not adequately complied with their obligations to provide initial disclosures under Rule 26(a)(1). Each of these assertions of good cause for amending the scheduling order are considered below.

         A. Scheduling Order Impracticalities

         First, Plaintiff argues that the deadlines in the Court's scheduling order are not workable and that the scheduling order is “prejudicially flawed in the Defendants' favor.” [DE 16; DE 23 at 8, Pg ID 147].

         The current scheduling order [DE 13], entered on January 2, 2019, ...


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