United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
TODD HUDSON, as personal representative of the Estate of WILLIAM HUDSON, Deceased, Plaintiff,
ARCELORMITTAL BURNS HARBOR, LLC formerly known as ISG BURNS HARBOR, LLC, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on the Emergency Motion to Stay
Expert Discovery, Compel Discovery Responses and for Leave to
Conduct Additional Fact Discovery [DE 29] filed by the
defendant, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor, LLC, on April 26,
2017. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
Hudson died while snowplowing at the ArcelorMittal facility
on January 9, 2014. The plaintiff, Todd Hudson as Personal
Representative of the Estate of William Hudson, deceased, has
alleged that the defendant, ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor, LLC,
was negligent in failing to warn Hudson of a snow-covered
manhole cover. Hudson unexpectedly hit the manhole cover
triggering a cardiac event that led to his death.
November 9, 2016, the parties filed a Motion for Extension of
Time to Complete Discovery [DE 22]. In light of the
parties' agreement, the court set the following
scheduling deadlines: all fact discovery completed by
February 15, 2017; plaintiff's expert witness disclosures
and reports submitted by March 15, 2017; and defendant's
expert witness disclosures and reports submitted by May 18,
2017. The plaintiff has indicated that fact discovery was
completed timely and that there were no issues, complaints,
objections, or outstanding matters raised by either party. On
March 15, 2017, the plaintiff disclosed six expert witnesses
and provided their reports to ArcelorMittal. The parties then
scheduled dates for plaintiff's experts to be deposed.
The parties deposed three of the experts as scheduled, but
following Coroner Chuck Harris' deposition on April 19,
2017, ArcelorMittal filed this motion requesting that expert
discovery be stayed and that fact discovery be reopened. The
plaintiff's remaining three experts have not been
deposed. ArcelorMittal also has requested that the plaintiff
supplement Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures and the response to
Interrogatory No. 20.
did not file a separate Local Rule 37.1 certification along
with its Emergency Motion to Stay Expert Discovery, Compel
Discovery Responses and for Leave to Conduct Additional Fact
Discovery [DE 29]. However, ArcelorMittal indicated in the
motion that counsel had conferred telephonically with
plaintiff's counsel regarding the requested discovery
party filing any discovery motion must file a separate
certification that the party has conferred in good faith or
attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort
to resolve the matter raised in the motion without court
action.” N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(a). The certification must
include the date, time, and place of any conference or
attempted conference and the names of any participating
parties. N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(a)(1) and (2). The court may
deny any motion that failed to include the required
certification. N.D. Ind. L.R. 37-1(b).
has indicated in the motion that it conferred with
plaintiff's counsel and that counsel objected to the
request for a discovery extension. The court will address the
underlying issues rather than denying ArcelorMittal's
motion pursuant to Local Rule 37-1 and simply delaying a
resolution of this dispute. See Felling v. Knight,
2001 WL 1782361, at *1 (S.D. Ind. Dec. 21, 2001)
(“[T]he briefs leave little doubt that the parties will
not reach mutual agreement on the issues raised. Therefore,
the court will address the underlying issues rather than deny
the motion solely on the basis of a procedural shortcoming.
To hold otherwise would do little other than delay resolution
of these issues . . . .”).
has requested that the court stay expert discovery and that
it reopen fact discovery for an additional 30 days. The court
has incidental power to stay proceedings, which stems from
its inherent power to manage its docket. Landis v. N. Am.
Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254- 55, 57 S.Ct. 163, 166, 81 L.Ed.
153 (1936); Tonn & Blank Constr., LLC v.
Sebelius, 968 F.Supp.2d 990, 992 (N.D. Ind. 2013). The
decision to grant a stay is committed to the sound discretion
of the court and must be exercised consistent with principles
of fairness and judicial economy. Brooks v. Merck &
Co., 443 F.Supp.2d 994, 997 (S.D. Ill. 2006);
Rutherford v. Merck & Co., 428 F.Supp.2d 842,
845 (S.D. Ill. 2006); Walker v. Monsanto Co. Pension
Plan, 472 F.Supp.2d 1053, 1054 (S.D. Ill. 2006).
“Courts often consider the following factors when
deciding whether to stay an action: (i) whether a stay will
unduly prejudice or tactically disadvantage the non-moving
party, (ii) whether a stay will simplify the issues in
question and streamline the trial, and (iii) whether a stay
will reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and on
the court.” Abbott Labs. v. Matrix Labs.,
Inc., 2009 WL 3719214, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2009).
“The general test for imposing a stay requires the
court to ‘balance interests favoring a stay against
interests frustrated by the action' in light of the
‘court's paramount obligation to exercise
jurisdiction timely in cases properly before it.'”
SanDisk Corp. v. Phison Elecs. Corp., 538 F.Supp.2d
1060, 1066 (W.D. Wis. 2008) (citing Cherokee Nation of
Okla. v. United States, 124 F.3d 1413, 1416
(Fed.Cir.1997)). The moving party must show good cause to
stay discovery. Castrillon v. St. Vincent Hosp. &
Health Care Ctr., Inc., 2011 WL 4538089, at *1 (S.D.
Ind. Sept. 29, 2011) (applying Rule 26(c) good cause standard
to motion to stay); DSM Desotech, Inc. v. 3D Sys.
Corp., 2008 WL 4812440, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct.28, 2008)
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b) provides that a schedule shall
not be modified except upon a showing of good cause and by
leave of the court. See Campania Mgmt. Co., Inc. v.
Rooks, Pitts & Poust, 290 F.3d 843, 851 (7th Cir.
2002); Briesacher v. AMG Res., Inc., 2005 WL
2105908, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 31, 2005). Good cause
sufficient for altering discovery deadlines is demonstrated
when a party shows that, “despite their diligence, the
established timetable could not be met.” Tschantz
v. McCann, 160 F.R.D. 568, 571 (N.D. Ind. 1995).
has requested that fact discovery be reopened for counsel to
take the fact depositions of Dr. Dali and Deputy Coroner Dave
Atkins. ArcelorMittal has indicated that it initially was
reported that Dr. Dali had agreed to sign Hudson's death
certificate. Therefore, ArcelorMittal has argued that it is
unclear what information was provided to Dr. Dali by
plaintiff's counsel or considered by him that later
prompted him not to sign the death certificate. ArcelorMittal
contends that the information considered by Dr. Dali was not
disclosed in discovery, provided as foundational fact or data
in his expert report, or included in the plaintiff's Rule
26(a)(1) initial disclosures. The plaintiff contends that
ArcelorMittal unilaterally canceled Dr. Dali's
deposition, and therefore it has not had the opportunity to
question Dr. Dali regarding these issues.
requested in the Motion to Compel the Limited Non-Expert
Medical Discovery Depositions of Coroner Harris and Dr. Sammi
M. Dali, M.D. [DE 25] filed on December 2, 2016, that it
depose Dr. Dali both in his non-expert capacity and as an
expert. On January 24, 2017, the court issued an Opinion and
Order [DE 28] indicating that there was no reason for
ArcelorMittal to take Dr. Dali's deposition twice. The
court reasoned that ArcelorMittal would have time to depose
Dr. Dali, as well as have ample time to prepare its experts.
ArcelorMittal has not indicated that there has been a
significant change in the law or facts since it originally
presented this issue to the court.
ArcelorMittal has indicated that Harris testified to the
involvement of an additional witness, Deputy Coroner Atkins,
who assisted in the investigation of Hudson's death.
Atkins' involvement in Hudson's death investigation
was disclosed in the Coroner's Verdict, which was
produced to ArcelorMittal's counsel in plaintiff's
Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures. Therefore, ArcelorMittal should
have been aware that Atkins was involved in Hudson's
death investigation since the beginning of this matter, and
it had every opportunity to seek additional information from
him during fact discovery. ArcelorMittal has not offered a
legitimate reason for not deposing Atkins earlier or any new
evidence to the contrary. ArcelorMittal has not demonstrated
good cause that, “despite its diligence the established