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Martha A. Akers v. Liberty Mutual Group

May 20, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

: Re Document Nos.: 79, 81, 83




This matter is before the court on the plaintiff's motion for relief upon reconsideration of the court's order extending the deadlines for discovery and dispositive motions in this case. Because the plaintiff has not complied with her discovery obligations and has failed to appear for her deposition on two separate occasions, the court declines to reconsider its decision to extend the discovery and dispositive motion deadlines.


The pro se plaintiff had a homeowner's insurance policy with the defendant, Liberty Mutual Group.*fn1 Notice of Removal, Ex. A. ("Compl.") ¶ 4. After the plaintiff's insured property was damaged in a fire, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim which the defendant denied.

See id. On July 8, 2008, the plaintiff commenced this action in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, alleging breach of contract and demanding specific performance. See generally id.

On March 24, 2009, after the defendant removed the case to this court, see generally Notice of Removal, the court held an initial status hearing, see Minute Entry (Mar. 24, 2009). During that hearing, the court set various dates to govern this litigation, including a discovery deadline of September 25, 2009. Id.

On October 8, 2009, the court held an interim status hearing, during which the defendant informed the court that the plaintiff had not responded to the defendant's discovery requests in a timely fashion. Hr'g Tr. (Oct. 8, 2009) at 5-7. The defendant requested an extension of the discovery period so as to give it time to analyze the documents that had just been produced and to determine whether any additional discovery was needed based on those documents. Id. at 9. The plaintiff explained that her limited resources prevented her from timely compliance and "ask[ed] the Court to have some leniency." Id. at 10. The plaintiff also joined in the defendant's oral motion for a continuance of the discovery deadline, explaining that she too had not had time to review the documents that the defendant had produced during discovery. Id. at 10-11. Accordingly, the court extended the discovery deadline to December 9, 2009 and ordered the parties to file any dispositive motions by January 8, 2010. See Minute Entry (Oct. 8, 2009).

As discovery was drawing to a close, the defendant filed a motion for sanctions against the plaintiff, claiming that she failed to appear for her properly noticed deposition on December 8, 2009. See Def.'s Mot. for Sanctions ¶ 1. The plaintiff filed a notice claiming that the defendant had not obtained leave of court to take her deposition as required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30.*fn2 See generally Pl.'s Notice of Taking Oral Deposition. These filings were stricken from the record due to the parties' failure to comply with the court's requirement that the parties obtain leave from the court prior to filing any discovery-related motions. See Standing Order (Oct. 20, 2009) ¶ 9. The parties did not make any attempt to refile their submissions.

On January 11, 2010, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. See generally Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that the defendant had relied on evidence that was inadmissible and unreliable. See generally Pl.'s Opp'n. The court, agreeing with the plaintiff that the defendant had primarily relied upon hearsay and unauthenticated exhibits, denied the defendant's motion without prejudice. See Mem. Op. (Sept. 28, 2010) at 1. The court subsequently ordered the parties to file a joint status report proposing a schedule to govern future proceedings, including the filing of future dispositive motions. Minute Order (Dec. 28, 2010).

The parties, however, proved incapable of collaborating on such a joint effort, and, instead of filing a joint status report, each party filed a separate status report. See Def.'s Mot. for Leave to File a Separate Status Report & Proposed Schedule ¶ 2 ("Notwithstanding the Court's direction that a Status Report herein be joint, it is the Defendant's experience that a joint agreement by the parties on any matter is not possible, and . . . the parties do not jointly agree on any matter, fact, event or occurrence presently before the Court."); Pl.'s Separate Status Report at 1 ("The parties conferred and were unable to reach an agreement regarding a joint submission for proposed further proceedings"). In its status report, the defendant stated that although it filed a motion for sanctions after the plaintiff failed to appear for her deposition, it did not refile that motion after it was stricken because of the looming deadline for dispositive motions. Def.'s Mot. for Leave to File a Separate Status Report & Proposed Schedule, Ex. A ("Def.'s Status Report") at 2-3. Nevertheless, the defendant asserted that the "[a]uthentication issues" pointed out by the court in denying its previous motion for summary judgment would have been addressed "had [the plaintiff] not improperly refused to appear [for her December 9, 2009 deposition] without leave to do so." Id. at 3. In light of the plaintiff's "conduct . . . during discovery in advance of the dispositive motions deadline," the defendant requested additional time in which to conduct discovery and proposed future dispositive motions deadlines. Id. at 4.

The plaintiff, in her separate status report, argued that the "restart of the schedule and discovery should not be allowed and the matter should proceed to trial." Pl.'s Separate Status Report at 2. The plaintiff asserted that "[i]f Defendants had a legitimate claim, pursuant to the scheduling Order, the Defendants had a ...

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