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Estate of Harold Stuller, Deceased, et al v. United States of America and Its Agency

August 28, 2012

ESTATE OF HAROLD STULLER, DECEASED, ET AL., PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ITS AGENCY, SECRETARY, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Byron G. Cudmore, U.S. Magistrate Judge:

E-FILED

Tuesday, 28 August, 2012 03:10:36 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs, Estate of Harold Stuller, deceased (Estate); Wilma Stuller, individually and as Executor or the Estate; and L.S.A., Inc.'s (collectively Stuller), Motion to Determine the Sufficiency of an Objection to Plaintiffs' Request for Admission (d/e 21) (Motion). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is respectfully DENIED.

BACKGROUND

Stuller filed this action to secure a refund of income taxes, interest and penalties paid for the taxable years 2003, 2004, and 2005. Stuller challenges the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) denial of Stuller's income tax deductions for ordinary and necessary business expenses for Stuller's horse farm breeding business operation located in Eagleville, Tennessee (Farm). Complaint for Refund of Income Taxes, Penalty and Interest (d/e 1) (Complaint) ¶¶ 15-17. Stuller seeks $104,057.49 for taxable year 2003 and the sum of $132,947.53 for the taxable years 2004, and 2005, together with interest. Complaint ¶ 22.

On December 15, 2011, the Court issued the Scheduling Order (d/e 17) in this case. The Scheduling Order set March 30, 2012, as the deadline for Stuller to identify expert witnesses and provide Rule 26 expert reports, and May 31, 2012, as the deadline for the Defendant United States to identify experts and provide expert reports. Scheduling Order ¶ 3.

The Scheduling Order set deadlines for completion of discovery as follows:

4. The parties have until June 29, 2012, to complete fact discovery. Any written discovery served subsequent to the date of this Order to be served by a date that allows the served party the full 30 days provided by the Federal rules of Civil Procedure in which to comply. The parties have until July 31, 2012 to complete expert discovery.

Scheduling Order ¶ 4. The Scheduling Order further stated, "All motions to compel must contain the certification required by Rule 37 that the parties met and conferred and attempted to resolve the discovery dispute. If the certification is not included, the motion to compel will be denied." Scheduling Order ¶ 5.

On December 28, 2011, Stuller made their initial disclosures under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1) to the United States. Stuller disclosed F. Marc Headden as a witness on the subject of "Farm values in and around Franklin, Tennessee." Defendant United States' Response to Motion to Compel (d/e 22) (United States Response), Exhibit B, Plaintiffs' Initial disclosures Pursuant to FRCP 26(a)(1), at 2. Headden authored an appraisal report dated May 28, 2008 (Appraisal), which appraised the fair market value of the Farm. Headden prepared the Appraisal in connection with a refinancing of the Farm in 2008. Motion ¶¶ 1-3, 5. Stuller previously provided the IRS with a copy of the Appraisal during the examination of Stuller's returns. Motion ¶ 4.

On March 29, 2012, Stuller's counsel sent a letter to the United States' counsel disclosing Stuller's expert witness. Plaintiffs' Motion to Clarify Record and Respond to Defendant United States' Motion to Extend Time for Discovery and Modify the Scheduling Order (d/e 20), Exhibit A, Letter dated March 29, 2012 (March 29 Letter). The March 29 Letter stated, in part, "Pursuant to the Scheduling Order and Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)

(2)(B), the Plaintiffs disclose Mack M. Motes as an expert witness . . . ." Stuller's counsel enclosed with the March 29 Letter an affidavit from Motes in which he opined about the business operations of the Farm. The March 29 Letter did not disclose Headden as an expert witness.

On March 30, 2012, Wilma Stuller responded to the United States'

First Set of Interrogatories. The United States' Interrogatory number 4 asked the following:

4. Identify the persons who have any knowledge or information relating to the purchase and maintenance of the property located at 1489 Cheatham Springs Road, Eagleville, TN 37060, and any other property used for your horse farm, and for each such person provide their name, address, telephone number, email address, and a description of the information or knowledge possessed by each such person.

Motion, Exhibit B, Plaintiffs' Answers to Defendant United States' First Set of Interrogatories to Wilma Stuller (Response to Interrogatories), at 2-3. Wilma Stuller listed Headden along with other ...


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