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M. G. v. Camp Wood Young Men's Christian Association

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 31, 2018

M. G., as parent and next friend of minor, D. G., Plaintiff,
v.
CAMP WOOD YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          GWYNNE E. BIRZER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Scheduling Order (ECF No. 118). On May 29, 2018, the Court convened a conference to address the pending motion. Plaintiff appeared through counsel, Michael J. Kuckelman and Michael T. Crabb. Defendant Camp Wood Young Men's Christian Association a/k/a/ Camp Wood YMCA appeared through counsel, Lee M. Baty and Matthew Westering. Defendant Jacob Ward appeared through counsel, Randy P. Scheer and Jana V. Richards. After consideration of all briefing related to the motion, hearing arguments of counsel and discussing the same, the Court GRANTED Plaintiff's motion in part and DENIED Plaintiff's motion in part. The previously-announced ruling of the Court is now memorialized below.

         I. Background

         A. Nature of the Case

         This matter arises from claims of sexual abuse of a minor at YMCA Camp Wood by defendant Jacob Ward. The case was originally filed on April 29, 2016 against defendants Camp Wood, Camp Leaders USA, Smaller Earth, and Jacob Ward. According to Plaintiff's Rule 26 Disclosures, she claims damages in excess of 1.8 million dollars. The initial Scheduling Order entered on April 4, 2017 was either revised or the deadlines contained therein were extended several times for good cause and at the request of the parties at different times. Plaintiff now seeks approval from the Court to amend the current Scheduling Order, yet another time, to which Defendants object.

         B. Procedural Posture

         From a procedural standpoint, the case is over 24 months old, but it has not been without discovery disputes, some of which were resolved by the parties, and some with Court assistance. Following exchange of documents identified in the parties Rule 26 disclosures, extensive pre-scheduling briefing on two Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, and the Court's Memorandum and Order dismissing defendants Smaller Earth and Camp Leaders USA from the case (ECF No. 70), an initial scheduling order was entered on April 4, 2017 (ECF No. 73). Having conducted minimal written discovery, three and a half months later on July 21, 2017, Plaintiff formally designated one expert (ECF No. 81). The docket does not reflect notice of any depositions having occurred or noticed prior to Plaintiff's expert designation.

         The Scheduling Order was revised at defendant Jacob Ward's request on September I, 2017 (ECF Nos. 86, 90), and the parties unsuccessfully mediated the case on September 20, 2017 (ECF No. 89). In October and November 2017, YMCA Camp Wood requested, and was twice granted, an extension of their Rule 35 exam and expert deadlines (ECF Nos. 90, 96, 99, 100).

         The parties continued to engage in discovery, and on January 8, 2018, defendant YMCA Camp Wood certified designation of its expert disclosures (ECF No. 104). By joint request, the Scheduling Order was revised again on February 7, 2018, extending most importantly, the discovery deadline to May 18, 2018 (ECF No. 106).

         With discovery ongoing, Plaintiff substituted counsel on April 4, 2018 (ECF No. 107). Additional written discovery was propounded, and on April 19, 2018, defendant Jacob Ward was noticed up for deposition on May 8, 2018 (ECF No. 112). On May 2, 2018, additional attorneys were added to the case on behalf of defendant Jacob Ward, while two others withdrew from representation (ECF Nos. 113-115). On May 18, 2018, after conferring with Defendants, Plaintiff sought amendment of the current Scheduling Order (ECF No. 118), in large part to designate an additional expert out of time. Defendants objected, and the subject motion ensued.

         II. Motion to Amend Scheduling Order (ECF No. 118)

         A. Duty to Confer

         As a threshold matter, the Court first considers whether the parties have sufficiently conferred regarding this discovery motion, as generally required by D. Kan. Rule 37.2 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). In the briefing, it appears the parties had sufficient discussions regarding revision of the Scheduling Order, and, during oral argument, counsel for Plaintiff and both Defendants referenced an amiable working relationship with each other. As such the Court is satisfied counsel have adequately conferred as required.

         B. Legal Standard

         Defendants correctly assert the standard justifying an extension of expert disclosure deadlines out of time is well established. Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B) provides in pertinent part, “When an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time . . . on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.” Similarly, D. Kan. Rule 6.1 specifies that the court will not grant extensions sought after the specified time expires “absent a showing of excusable neglect.”

         “It is clear that ‘excusable neglect' under Rule 6(b) is a somewhat ‘elastic concept' and is not limited strictly to omissions caused by circumstances beyond the control of the movant.[1] The court generally considers four factors when determining whether a party's actions establish excusable neglect, including: 1) the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; 2) the length of delay caused by the neglect and its impact on judicial proceedings; 3) the reason for delay and whether it was in the reasonable control of the moving party; and 4) the existence of good faith on the part of the moving party.[2] Normally, the reason for a delay is of utmost importance, “if not the most important factor” in the court's analysis.[3] The decision to ...


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