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Sharon Murray v. Nationwide Better Health

April 25, 2012

SHARON MURRAY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NATIONWIDE BETTER HEALTH, BARBARA LEY, AND CYNTHIA NORTHRUP, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sue E. Myerscough, U.S. District Judge.

E-FILED

Wednesday, 25 April, 2012 06:19:54 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This cause is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections (d/e 250) to three orders entered by United States Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore (see d/e 228, 229, 230). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Objections are DENIED.

I. PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR ORAL ARGUMENT IS DENIED

Plaintiff has requested oral argument on her objections. This request is denied. The issues have been fully briefed, and Plaintiff has had an ample opportunity to present her claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A magistrate judge may hear and determine matters that are not dispositive of a claim or defense. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). When a district court considers objections to a magistrate judge's ruling on a nondispositive matter, the magistrate judge's disposition will be set aside only if it is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). When a district court considers objections to a magistrate judge's ruling on a dispositive matter, the court reviews de novo any part of the ruling to which a proper objection has been made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

Judge Cudmore's rulings on Plaintiff's motion for recusal and motion seeking a protective order were rulings on nondispostive matters and will be reviewed under the clearly erroneous or contrary to law standard of review. See Gilbert-Mitchell v. Lappin, 2010 WL 118397, at *1 (S. D. Ill. 2010) (reviewing a magistrate judge's order to not recuse himself for clear error because it was not dispositive); Sann v. Mastrian, 2011 WL 4068431, at *1 (S.D. Ind. 2011) (finding that a magistrate judge's ruling on a motion for a protective order is reviewed under the clearly erroneous or contrary to law standard).

Whether the ruling on the motion for an order to show cause is a dispositive or nondispositive motion is unclear. See Commodity Futures Trading Com'n v. Velazquez, 2007 WL 1673218, at *2 (N.D. Ill. 2007) (noting that "[t]he idea of a show cause motion is to hold a hearing, at which the factfinder will ultimately evaluate whether a finding of contempt . . . is appropriate" but refusing to definitively decide the standard-of-review issue, instead finding that, under either standard of review, the district court would agree with the magistrate judge). However, as discussed further below, Plaintiff failed to file specific objections to Judge Cudmore's Opinion on the motion for an order to show cause. "If an objector fails to adhere to the specificity requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), the district judge will apply the (highly deferential) clearly erroneous standard of review." Pennington v. Commission of Social Security, 2011 WL 1299617, at *1 (S.D. Ill. 2011).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Judge Cudmore's Ruling on Plaintiff's Motion Seeking Recusal (d/e 228)

In January 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion seeking the recusal of Judge Cudmore (d/e 209). On March 1, 2012, Judge Cudmore entered an Opinion denying the Motion (d/e 228). Judge Cudmore first noted that Plaintiff could not bring her Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 144*fn1 because Plaintiff did not have counsel of record and therefore could not file "a certificate of counsel of record stating that [the affidavit that a party must file with facts and reasons for the belief that bias exists] is made in good ...


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