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Dyniewski v. AG Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

August 23, 2016

STEPHEN DYNIEWSKI and ANGELA DYNIEWSKI, Plaintiffs,
v.
AG LINES, INC. and DALIUS RACHLEVICIUS, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on (1) Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel the Reconvened Deposition of Dalius Rachlevicius and to Extend the Time Limitation of Rule 30(d)(1), Fed.R.Civ.P. [DE 46], filed by Plaintiffs Stephen Dyniewski and Angela Dyniewski on July 15, 2016; (2) Defendants’ Motion to Preclude Further Deposition of Dalius Rachlevicius [DE 49], filed by Defendants AG Lines, Inc. and Dalius Rachlevicius on July 15, 2016; and (3) Defendants’ Motion for Leave to File Surreply [DE 55], filed by Defendants on July 27, 2016.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 21, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a response to Defendants’ Motion to Preclude; Defendants have not filed a reply, and the time to do so has passed. On July 22, 2016, Defendants filed a response to Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel, and Plaintiffs filed a reply on July 25, 2016. On July 27, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a response to the Motion for Leave to File Surreply; Defendants did not file a reply, and the time to do so has passed.

         The case arises from a tractor-trailer collision that occurred in Valparaiso, Indiana, on May 6, 2015. On July 2, 2015, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint in state court, alleging that Defendant Dalius Rachlevicius, the driver of the tractor-trailer who worked for Defendant AG Lines, Inc., collided with Plaintiff Stephen Dyniewski’s vehicle, causing Dyniewski to suffer serious and debilitating injuries. Plaintiffs assert claims for personal injuries and seek both compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants removed the case to this Court on August 16, 2015.

         On June 8, 2016, counsel for Plaintiffs began the deposition of Rachlevicius at 3:43 p.m. Rachlevicius, a native Lithuanian speaker, has limited ability to read, understand, and speak the English language. As a result, Rachlevicius requested and utilized a Lithuanian interpreter during the deposition. The deposition stopped three hours later at 6:42 p.m. that same date because the court reporter, Lithuanian interpreter, and videographer could not stay any longer.

         At the conclusion of the first three hours of the deposition, counsel for Plaintiffs suspended the deposition, reserving the right to reconvene the deposition at a later date. Counsel for Defendants objected to any further deposition of Rachlevicius on the basis that Defendants have admitted that they were responsible for causing the motor vehicle accident that is the subject of this lawsuit. Counsel for Defendants asserted that the only issue remaining for trial is damages. Counsel for Plaintiffs made a record in response to the objection that affirmative defenses are pending, the partial motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability is pending, and there is a claim for punitive damages.

         Off the record, counsel had a discussion concerning the possibility of Defendants stipulating as to their liability as a means of satisfying Plaintiffs’ perceived need to reconvene the deposition. Defendants agreed to prepare a stipulation.

         On June 10, 2016, counsel for Plaintiffs sent a fax to counsel for Defendants, requesting dates to reconvene the deposition. On June 15, 2016, counsel for Defendants sent a letter to counsel for Plaintiffs reiterating the objection to presenting Rachlevicius for a reconvened deposition, asserting the deposition “would not involve any matter relevant to any issue remaining for trial in this matter.” Counsel for Defendants further stated:

Rather than continue to incur needless expense conducting discovery on issues that have been fully resolved (i.e. responsibility for causing the collision) the parties should focus their efforts on entering into a stipulation that addresses the withdrawal of Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claim and establishes conclusively that the Defendants are responsible for causing the collision at issue in this case.

(Docket entry 40-2). Defendants enclosed Defendants’ Proposed Joint Stipulation as to Liability.

         Without further discussion, on June 20, 2016, counsel for Plaintiffs served a Rule 30 deposition notice to reconvene the deposition on July 26, 2016.

         On July 12, 2016, counsel for Defendants contacted counsel for Plaintiffs. During the conference, counsel for Defendants indicated that he would file a motion to quash the reconvened deposition of Rachlevicius if counsel for Plaintiffs did not agree to withdraw the notice of deposition. Counsel discussed their relative positions regarding the deposition. The teleconference ended with counsel for Plaintiffs agreeing to follow up with counsel for Defendants on or before July 15, 2016, after having had an opportunity to discuss the Proposed Joint Stipulation as to Liability with the partners in the law firm.

         Counsel for Plaintiffs did not contact counsel for Defendants. Instead, Plaintiffs filed the instant Motion to Compel on July 15, 2016. Counsel for Defendants ...


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