United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.
Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Travelers Property Casualty Company of America's ("Travelers") Objection to the Magistrate's Order denying Travelers permission to de-pose Plaintiff Indianapolis Airport Authority's ("IAA") hybrid expert witness, Richard Potosnak, for longer than the presumptive seven-hour limit imposed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Filing No. 115.] For the reasons that follow, the Court SUSTAINS Travelers' objection to the Magistrate Judge's decision. Travelers may depose Mr. Potosnak for an additional four hours.
This suit involves a dispute regarding insurance coverage. IAA, the insured party, brought this suit against its insurer, Travelers, for coverage of its claim relating to the collapse of temporary shoring towers used in the construction of IAA's new midfield terminal project. IAA alleges that Travelers breached the insurance contract and seeks a declaratory judgment regarding its coverage under the insurance policy.
On November 26, 2014, the Magistrate Judge denied Travelers' request that it be permitted to depose Mr. Potosnak for longer than seven hours. [Filing No. 79.] Travelers filed an objection to this ruling pursuant to Rule 72(a). [Filing No. 80.] The Court denied the objection without prejudice, and remanded the matter back to the Magistrate Judge "for further findings and to elaborate the basis for the decision." [Filing No. 96.] The Magistrate Judge elaborated the basis for the ruling, [Filing No. 103], and Travelers then renewed its objection, [Filing No. 115]. Further background facts are detailed only to the extent necessary to rule on the parties' objection and motion.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The district court's review of any decision by a magistrate judge on a non-dispositive motion is governed by Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This Court can only sustain an objection to a nondispositive order by a magistrate judge when the order is "clearly erroneous or is contrary to law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). "The clear error standard means that the district court can overturn the magistrate judge's ruling only if the district court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made." Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Industries Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997). "An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure." Pain Center of SE Ind., LLC v. Origin Healthcare Solutions, LLC, 2014 WL 6674757, *2 (S.D. Ind. 2014) (citations and quotation marks omitted).
The Court will begin by setting forth the relevant law before turning to the Magistrate Judge's reasoning and the parties' arguments regarding the Magistrate Judge's decision.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that, "[u]nless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, a deposition is limited to 1 day of 7 hours. The court must allow additional time consistent with Rule 26(b)(2) if needed to fairly examine the deponent or if the deponent, another person, or any other circumstance impedes or delays the examination." Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(d)(1) (emphasis added). The advisory committee notes to the 2000 amendments to Rule 30 set forth examples of several factors the Court may consider in deciding whether grounds for an extended deposition exist:
Parties considering extending the time for a deposition-and courts asked to order an extension-might consider a variety of factors.  For example, if the witness needs an interpreter, that may prolong the examination.  If the examination will cover events occurring over a long period of time, that may justify allowing additional time.  In cases in which the witness will be questioned about numerous or lengthy documents, it is often desirable for the interrogating party to send copies of the documents to the witness sufficiently in advance of the deposition so that the witness can become familiar with them. Should the witness nevertheless not read the documents in advance, thereby prolonging the deposition, a court could consider that a reason for extending the time limit.  If the examination reveals that documents have been requested but not produced, that may justify further examination once production has occurred.  In multi-party cases, the need for each party to examine the witness may warrant additional time, although duplicative questioning should be avoided and parties with similar interests should strive to designate one lawyer to question about areas of common interest. Similarly, should the ...