United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Collins, United States Magistrate Judge.
the Court is a Motion for Appointment of Master to Oversee
Discovery Pursuant to Rule 53(a)(1)(C) (DE 601) filed by
Valley Forge Insurance Company (“Valley Forge”)
on December 21, 2016, requesting that the Court appoint a
master to oversee and manage the remaining discovery in this
case. Defendants Hartford Iron & Metal, Inc., and Alan B.
Goldberg d/b/a Hartford Iron & M (together,
“Hartford Iron”) filed a response in opposition
to the motion on January 10, 2017 (DE 615), and Valley Forge
filed a reply on January 17, 2017 (DE 622). The matter is now
ripe for ruling.
following reasons, Valley Forge's motion for appointment
of special master will be DENIED.
Factual and Procedural Background
Forge filed this suit against Hartford Iron on January 10,
2014, claiming that Hartford Iron had breached a settlement
agreement entered into by the parties in December 2012 that
purported to settle the parties' respective rights and
duties under certain insurance contracts relating to an
environmental dispute. (DE 1). The factual background of this
case is very complicated and known to the parties, and thus,
the Court will not set forth a detailed factual summary here.
The docket entries now exceed 600 in this case, and this
litigation has been contentious since the outset.
Court conducted a preliminary pretrial conference on April
21, 2015, and set a discovery deadline of April 21, 2017. (DE
72). On October 16, 2015, Hartford Iron filed a motion to
compel (DE 228), which was denied by the Court on November 4,
2015 (DE 262). On November 3, 2015, Valley Forge filed a
motion to compel (DE 260), which the Court denied on November
18, 2015 (DE 272). On March 31, 2016, Hartford Iron filed a
second motion to compel against certain third-party
defendants (DE 418), and on May 4, 2016, several third-party
defendants filed a motion to stay discovery (DE 446; DE 447);
after a hearing, the Court ruled on these motions on June 1,
2016 (DE 462; DE 463).
June 1, 2016, the Court held a further preliminary pretrial
conference, affirming the discovery deadline of April 21,
2107, and setting the following deadlines: July 1, 2016, for
Rule 26(a)(1) initial disclosures; January 3, 2017, for Rule
26(a)(2) disclosures by Valley Forge; January 31, 2017, for
Rule 26(a)(2) disclosures by Hartford Iron; February 28,
2017, for rebuttal experts; September 30, 2016, for Valley
Forge to seek leave to amend the pleadings or join additional
parties; and October 31, 2016, for Hartford Iron to seek
leave to amend the pleadings or join additional parties. (DE
Forge filed two more motions to compel: one on May 27, 2016
(DE 458), and the other on September 12, 2016 (DE 516).
Hartford Iron also filed two additional motions to compel:
one on August 5, 2016 (DE 490), and the other on August 12,
2016 (DE 499). Hartford Iron then sought leave to conduct an
extended deposition of Kathleen Coyle on October 7, 2016. (DE
533). Following a hearing (DE 563), the Court ruled on these
five discovery-related motions on November 4, 2016 (DE 568).
In doing so, the Court acknowledged that an in
camera review may be necessary on Valley Forge's
second motion to compel. (DE 568 at 8).
November 22, 2016, the District Judge denied a motion filed
by Valley Forge on August 8, 2016, asking the Court to
appoint a special master to oversee the remediation of the
Hartford Iron site. (DE 491; DE 581). In doing so, the
District Judge left the door open with respect to appointing
a master at the parties' expense to address discovery
matters if they proceeded in excess. (DE 581).
November 29, 2016, Valley Forge filed motions to stay (DE
589; DE 590) and motions for protective order (DE 587; DE
588), seeking to delay Hartford Iron's depositions of
Valerie Rodriguez and Brian Frankl. The Court held a hearing
and ruled on these motions on December 16, 2016. (DE 599).
December 28, 2016, Valley Forge petitioned the Court for an
in camera review of documents at issue in its second
motion to compel that Hartford Iron claims as privileged on
its privilege log. (DE 606). The Court granted Valley
Forge's motion on January 10, 2017, and scheduled the
in camera review for February 22, 2017. (DE 614).
Also on January 10, 2017, the Court granted several
extension-related motions, extending the expert disclosure
deadline for both parties to March 1, 2017, and the rebuttal
expert deadline to March 22, 2017. (DE 614).
Forge filed the instant motion for appointment of special
master (DE 601) on December 21, 2016, and the motion is now
Applicable Legal Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 53 provides that a court may appoint
a master to “address pretrial and post-trial matters
that cannot be effectively and timely addressed by an
available district judge or magistrate judge in the
district.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 53(a)(1)(C); see Borom v.
Town of Merrillville, No. 2:07 CV 98, 2008 WL 155018, at
*3 (N.D. Ind. Jan. 15, 2008). “The rule begins with a
presumption against the appointment of special
masters.” Borom, 2008 WL 155018, at *3
(citations omitted). That is, “the appointment of a
special master is the exception and not the rule and . . .
there must be a showing that some exceptional condition
requires such an appointment.” Williams v.
Lane, 851 F.2d 867, 884 (7th Cir. 1988) (citation
omitted)). “The Supreme Court has made clear that
routine considerations, such as the general complexity of the