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Summers v. Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 10, 2014

PATRICIA SUMMERS, Plaintiff,
v.
ELECTRO-MOTIVE DIESEL, INC., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CATERPILLAR, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

GEORGE M. MAROVICH, District Judge.

Plaintiff has filed an objection to Magistrate Judge Mason's September 9, 2014 order. Specifically, plaintiff argues that she should be allowed to reopen discovery in order to re-depose three witnesses. For the reasons set forth below, the Court overrules plaintiff's objection.

I. Background

In February 2013, plaintiff filed her complaint in which she alleges that defendant violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Equal Pay Act. Discovery officially began on May 2, 2013, when the parties held their Rule 26(f) conference. On August 7, 2013, Magistrate Judge Mason set a discovery cut-off of November 7, 2013. On September 26, 2013, the parties asked Judge Mason to extend the discovery deadline, and he did. Judge Mason set the new discovery cut-off at February 5, 2014 and ordered "[n]o extensions absent extraordinary circumstances."

At a status hearing on February 5, 2014 (the last day of discovery), plaintiff's counsel asked for another extension in order to take seven depositions. It is unclear why plaintiff had not taken her depositions sooner. Judge Mason described the conversation in a subsequent order:

At the 02/05/14 status hearing, ... plaintiff's counsel requested two additional weeks to complete the remaining seven depositions. "In the spirit of cooperation, " defendant's counsel offered plaintiff twenty-one days, until 02/26/14, to complete the remaining depositions. In addition, defendant's counsel asked that the discovery extension be granted only for the limited purpose of taking the remaining seven depositions, and not for any additional written discovery. Plaintiff's counsel qualified defense counsel's request by asking that any relevant documents that might arise in the course of the upcoming depositions be discoverable. The parties and the Court agreed.

(Docket entry 64 at 2). Thus, on February 5, 2014, Magistrate Judge Mason ordered as follows: "As stated on the record, discovery is extended until 2/26/14 for the purpose of completing the remaining seven depositions. No further extensions will be granted." (Docket entry 37).

Not long thereafter, defendant filed a motion for a protective order, and plaintiff filed a motion to compel. In her motion to compel, plaintiff argued that defendant should produce additional documents and that she should be allowed to re-depose witnesses after she received the additional documents.

Mason issued his opinion on June 2, 2014. Judge Mason stated that he would only consider plaintiff's request for documents that plaintiff became aware of through the seven depositions. (Docket entry 64 at 2) ("Based on the agreement the parties and the Court reached at the 02/05/14 status, for purposes of this order, we will only consider plaintiff's request for documents that arose from depositions taken between the 02/05/14 status and the close of discovery on 02/26/14."). Judge Mason rejected plaintiff's attempt to compel production of other documents that plaintiff could have asked for earlier in discovery. He determined that defendant had answered plaintiff's discovery requests in June 2013 and that plaintiff had waited too long to complain that defendant's production was insufficient. (Docket entry 64 at 3 ("we find that if these documents were so critical to plaintiff's depositions and if defendant did not sufficiently answer Interrogatory No. 14 in June of 2013, Summers should not have waited until after her depositions were completed [to move to compel]") and 7 ("Documents reflecting the RIF were produced in June of 2013. Regardless of whether careless error or neglect of the case caused plaintiff to overlook the RIF referenced in defendant's production in June of 2013, the fact remains that plaintiff should have been aware of the RIF nine months before Ms. [sic] Strimaitis and Ms. McNeill were deposed. Plaintiff does not specifically request any documents referenced in Mr. Strimaitis' or Ms. McNeill's testimony, and nothing in their testimony indicates that there are unproduced RIF documents. For those reasons, plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to any and all documents directing Paul Strimaitis to reduce headcount and any all documents used for the process is denied."). Although Magistrate Judge Mason declined to order defendant to produce many of the documents plaintiff moved to compel, he ordered defendant to produce certain documents that were referred to during the depositions plaintiff took between February 5 and February 26, 2014. Defendant did so, producing more than 2, 000 documents.

In addition to documents, plaintiff, in her March 2014 motion to compel, also requested the right to re-depose witnesses about any new documents defendant might produce after the motion to compel. In his June 2, 2014 order, Magistrate Judge Mason denied the request. He said:

Plaintiff first requests the right to depose or re-depose witnesses about EMD's new production. (Mot. to Compel at 14.) As discussed on the record at the 02/05/14 status, by agreement of the parties, discovery was extended for three weeks to allow plaintiff to take her seven remaining depositions. At that status, the Court agreed to allow documents discussed for the first time at those depositions to be produced. The Court also stated that no further discovery extensions would be granted. The Court stands by its 02/05/14 order. The remaining seven depositions have been completed, additional documents have or will be produced, and discovery is now closed. Time for additional depositions will not be granted. Plaintiff's request for the right to depose or re-depose witnesses is denied.

(Docket entry 64 at 9). With discovery closed, Judge Mason closed the discovery referral. Plaintiff did not file any objections to Judge Mason's June 2, 2014 order.

Two months later, plaintiff filed a motion with this Court asking leave to file before Magistrate Judge Mason a motion for leave to re-depose three witnesses. Plaintiff did not inform this Court that Magistrate Judge Mason had already denied her request to re-depose witnesses. This Court allowed plaintiff to make her motion. Magistrate Judge Mason was not persuaded to allow plaintiff to re-depose the witnesses. On September 9, 2014, he said, among other things:

[P]laintiff ignores this Court's ruling on the parties' last round of discovery motions. In that ruling, though recognizing that additional documents would be produced, we stated, "Time for additional depositions will not be granted. Plaintiff's request for the right to depose or re-depose witnesses is denied." (Order at 9.) We also noted that plaintiff should have been aware of the RIF issue in ...

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