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Postle v. Bath & Body Works, LLC

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

February 9, 2015

Bridget M. Postle, Plaintiff,
v.
Bath & Body Works, LLC; et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

IAIN D. JOHNSTON, Magistrate Judge.

In the legal practice, deadlines matter. Schrier & Torres, Before Midnight: Deadlines, Diligence, and the Practice of Law, The Federal Lawyer, 68, 69 (December 2014).

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(B), Plaintiff filed "Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Instanter Documents in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment" ("Motion"). [Dkt. #48] For the reasons that follow, the Motion is denied.

FACTS

The complaint in this case was filed on November 25, 2013. [Dkt. #1] The case is a straight-forward Age Discrimination in Employment Act case. The case was initially assigned to Magistrate Judge P. Michael Mahoney.

On February 10, 2014, the parties filed a proposed case management order. [Dkt. #22] On February 10, 2014, Magistrate Judge Mahoney entered an order essentially adopting the dates proposed by the parties, including that fact discovery was to close by July 31, 2014. Judge Mahoney also set September 1, 2014, to file dispositive motions. [Dkt. #23]

On April 23, 2014, the case was transferred to the undersigned's calendar due to the impending retirement of Judge Mahoney. [Dkt. #29-30] On April 30, 2014, the Court ordered the parties to submit a status report to inform the Court of the progress of discovery, among other things. [Dkt. #31] The order required the parties to state whether the case was proceeding in a manner that would allow the case to meet the deadlines established by the case management order. The purpose of requiring this information was to determine which cases were proceeding properly and which were dawdling. A secondary purpose was to provide a not-so-subtle hint that cases should proceed properly.

On June 16, 2014, the parties submitted the status report. [Dkt. #33] In response to the Court's query regarding the ability to meet deadlines, the status report stated the following: "Though the parties have diligently undertaken discovery efforts in this matter, the parties expect that an extension of the existing fact discovery cut-off and dispositive motion deadlines will be necessary due to the need to conduct additional discovery." [Dkt. #33, p.2] The status report established that Plaintiff's counsel had failed to timely respond to written discovery and that Defendant was awaiting Plaintiff's counsel to provide dates for Plaintiff's deposition. [Dkt. #33, pp. 2-3] The status report also indicated that Defendant expected to file a summary judgment motion. [Dkt. #33, p. 3]

After the Court received the status report, it held the initial status hearing on June 24, 2014. [Dkt. #36] At the initial status, Plaintiff's counsel stated that more time was needed to conduct discovery. Defendant's counsel agreed and asked for an additional sixty days to complete discovery. The Court warned the parties that they needed to be diligent in conducting discovery, not merely saying they were being diligent. Defendant's counsel informed the Court that a summary judgment motion would be filed. Thereafter, the Court entered an order extending fact discovery to September 30, 2014, stating in capital letters that it was the final extension. The Court also extended the date to file dispositive motions to October 31, 2014. [Dkt. #36]

Three months later, on September 19, 2014, Plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to extend the deadline to complete discovery. [Dkt. 37] The stated basis in the written motion was that Plaintiff's counsel was busily engaged in other matters. [Dkt. #37, pp. 1-2] Plaintiff's counsel averred that if the motion to extend discovery were not granted, Plaintiff would be prejudiced because "she would have to proceed to trial without having had the benefit of obtaining at least written discovery responses from the defendants regarding the events of which she complains and any defenses raised by the defendants." [Dkt. #37, pp. 2-3] Plaintiff's counsel sought to extend the fact discovery deadline to November 21, 2014, and the dispositive motion deadline to December 22, 2014. [Dkt. #37, p. 3]

On September 25, 2014, the Court heard Plaintiff's motion to extend the deadlines. [Dkt. #39] At the hearing, Plaintiff's counsel presented a new and very different reason why no discovery was issued. According to Plaintiff's counsel, he thought he had served discovery, but, in fact, discovered that he had not due to an oversight. Plaintiff's counsel was "dumbfounded" that he had failed to serve written discovery to date, and wanted time to do so. According to Plaintiff's counsel, the case "slipped through the cracks." [Dkt. #52-1, p.3] The Court entered an order, granting Plaintiff's motion to extend the deadlines. In doing so, the Court extended the deadline for fact discovery to November 21, 2014, and the deadline for dispositive motions to December 22, 2014. The Court warned that those date would not be moved. [Dkt. #39]

As it turns out, during the extension of discovery, Plaintiff's counsel issued no discovery requests and took no depositions. [Dkt. #55, p. 3; Dkt. #52-1, p.2]

During a November 25, 2014, telephonic status hearing, the Court confirmed that dispositive motions were due on December 22, 2014. In light of the holiday season and Plaintiff's counsel's busy schedule, the Court gave Plaintiff's counsel four weeks to file the response to the summary judgment motion - to January 19, ...


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