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Woodward v. Algie

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 21, 2014



Denise K. LaRue United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff’s Revised Ex Parte Petition for Pre-judgment Writ of Attachment [doc. 70] and Plaintiff’s Ex Parte Belated Motion for Extension of Time [doc. 71]

The plaintiff, Loyd Woodward, petitions a second time for the Court to issue a writ to the United States marshal to attach property of the defendants, David and Linda Algie, before judgment, in order to secure his ability to execute on the property if he obtains a money judgment in this Cause. The Court denied his first petition on substantive and procedural grounds. Ex parte Entry and Order [doc. 56] (“Entry”). Familiarity with the factual background and legal standards set forth in that Entry is assumed here. Although Mr. Woodward submitted a more developed argument supported by additional evidence, he filed his petition late and he has again failed to show sufficient grounds for issuing the writ. For these reasons, explained below, his Revised Ex Parte Petition for Pre-judgment Writ of Attachment [doc. 70] (“Revised Petition”) and his Ex Parte Belated Motion for Extension of Time [doc. 71] are denied.

Late filing

In its February 14, 2014 Entry denying Mr. Woodward’s first petition, the Court afforded him another opportunity to file a petition and ordered him to inform the Court whether and when he intended to so file. The Court advised that, if he did not file a renewed petition, then all of the related ex parte filings would be unsealed. On February 21, 2014, Mr. Woodward informed the Court that he intended to file a new petition and that he believed that it could be “on filed [sic] on or before March 7, 2014.” Response to Ex Parte Entry and Order [doc. 64]. The Court accepted Mr. Woodward’s deadline. Ex Parte Order [doc. 65]. At 11:51 p.m. on Friday, March 7, 2014, nine minutes from his self-identified deadline, Mr. Woodward filed a motion for an extension of time to Monday, March 10, 2014 “so that Plaintiff can insure [sic] that its Revised Petition is fully and properly compliant.” Ex Parte Motion Extension of Time [doc. 68] (“First Extension Motion”). The Court granted this extension, specifically noting that “[t]here will be no further extensions of time.” Ex parte Order [doc. 69]. On March 11, 2014, at 2:44 a.m., after the extended deadline had expired, Mr. Woodward filed the present Revised Petition and, at 12:58 p.m., ten hours later, he filed the present Ex Parte Belated Motion for Extension of Time [doc. 71] (“Second Extension Motion”), asking leave to file instanter his Revised Petition.

Thus, Mr. Woodward waited to file a motion to extend his first deadline until 11:51 p.m., nine minutes before the deadline expired, which ensured that the Court would not have seen the motion and could not have acted until after the deadline had expired. It was, in practical effect, a motion for an extension of time after his time had expired. The Court granted that motion at its first opportunity but, despite having received his requested extension, Mr. Woodward filed his Revised Petition two hours and forty-four minutes after his second self-identified deadline had expired and he did not ask for an after-the-fact further extension of time until ten hours later.

A court may extend a deadline after it has expired only on motion, for good cause shown, and if the movant’s failure to meet the deadline was due to excusable neglect. Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). “Excusable neglect” includes, in appropriate circumstances, “inadvertence, mistake, or carelessness, as well as . . . intervening circumstances beyond the party’s control.” Pioneer Investment Services Co. v. Brunswick Associates Limited Partnership, 507 U.S. 380, 388 (1993). The determination of whether a party’s neglect of a deadline is excusable “is at bottom an equitable one, taking account of all relevant circumstances surrounding the party’ s omission.” Id. at 395. Relevant circumstances, or factors informing a court’s determination, include (1) the danger of prejudice to other parties; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the judicial proceedings; (3) the reason for the failure to meet the deadline, including whether it was within the control of the movant; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith. Id.; Raymond v. Ameritech Corp., 442 F.3d 600, 606 (7th Cir. 2006). Rule 6(b) “clearly gives courts both the authority to establish deadlines and the discretion to enforce them.” Raymond, 442 F.3d at 605. The determination of excusable neglect is made in the context of the courts’ duty to enforce deadlines in order to keep their caseloads moving:

The district courts must manage a burgeoning caseload, and they are under pressure to do so as efficiently and speedily as they can, while still accomplishing just outcomes in every civil action. See Rule 1; Civil Justice Reform Act of 1990, 28 U.S.C. §§ 471–482; Judicial Conference of the United States, Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts at 66 (1995). Part of that job means that they are entitled — indeed they must — enforce deadlines. Necessarily, they must have substantial discretion as they manage their dockets. Consequently, this Court reviews decisions such as the district court’s refusal here to grant the Reales a fourth extension of time only for abuse of discretion.

Reales v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 84 F.3d 993, 996 (7th Cir. 1996).

We live in a world of deadlines. If we’re late for the start of a game or the movie, or late for the departure of the plane or the train, things go forward without us. The practice of law is no exception. A good judge sets deadlines, and the judge has a right to assume that deadlines will be honored. The flow of cases through a busy district court is aided, not hindered, by adherence to deadlines.

Spears v. City of Indianapolis, 74 F.3d 153, 157 (7th Cir. 1996). Neither “repeated, wilful and recalcitrant conduct” nor reckless disregard for deadlines need not be shown before a court strictly enforces its deadlines. Raymond, 442 F.3d at 607 (quoting Wienco, Inc. v. Katahn Assocs. Inc., 965 F.2d 565, 568 (7th Cir. 1992)). Finally, in making the determination whether the failure to meet a deadline was the result of excusable neglect, courts must hold parties accountable for the acts and omissions of their counsel. Pioneer Investment, 507 U.S. at 396- In his First Extension Motion, filed on March 7, 2014, Mr. Woodward’s counsel stated that he “underestimated that two (2) weeks was sufficient. There are still several additional items that need to be taken care [sic] in order to comply with the Court’s recent order . . . .” As noted, he asked for a three-day extension, which was granted. In his present Second Extension Motion asking the Court to rule the late filing of his Revised Petition timely, Mr. Woodward’s counsel presents his explanation for failing to meet his deadline:

2. Despite the Court’s fair warning [that there would be no further extensions of time], Plaintiff were [sic] not able to file their [sic] Revised Motion until around 2 am the morning of this filing.
3. Normally, the undersigned would not make a belated filing without leave of the Court, however, part of the reason for the belated filing was due to the fact that the time it took to upload the exhibits was tremendous as the process failed three (3) times and had to be resubmitted. For example, on the file resubmission at around 2 am, the files did not upload for almost forty-five (45 minutes) [sic]. As a result, once the filing finally was able to upload, Plaintiff went ahead a [sic] submitted the filing so as to not cause a further delay.
4. The undersigned wishes that he could say that the delay in filing was the sole result of the above-referenced technological issues, but that was not the only issue. Had the technological issues not occurred, the filing would still ...

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