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Metzger v. Seterus, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 3, 2019

Jeffrey Metzger, Plaintiff,
v.
Seterus, Inc. and Federal National Mortgage Association, Defendants.

          Jonathan L. R. Drewes, Drewes Law, PLLC, (for Plaintiff); and

          Gregg Barbakoff, Maurice Wutscher LLP, and Melissa L.B. Porter, Shapiro and Zielke, LLP, (for Defendants).

          ORDER

          Tony N. Leung United States Magistrate Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Withdraw Admissions. (ECF No. 18) and the Joint Motion to Amend Scheduling Order (ECF No. 29). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 19, 2018, Plaintiff Jeffrey Metzger filed suit against Defendants Seterus, Inc. and Federal National Mortgage Association, alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as well as Minnesota state law related to foreclosure advice and redemption rights notices. (ECF No. 1). On March 6, 2019, Metzger served two requests for admissions on Defendants. (ECF No. 20, p. 10). Because Defendants failed to “calendar the response deadline” regarding those requests, they did not respond to them timely. (ECF No. 20, p. 2). As a result, Metzger's requests for admission have been deemed admitted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(3).

         Upon realizing their error, Defendants contacted Metzger and asked for a brief extension to respond to the requests for admissions. (ECF No. 20, p. 2). Metzger informed Defendants that he would not consent to the requested extension, but would reconsider once he reviewed certain documents that Defendants would be providing. (ECF No. 20, p. 2). Defendants produced the documents on April 26, 2019. (ECF No. 20, p. 2).

         Shortly after making their document production, Defendants contacted Metzger and again asked for an extension of time to respond to the requests for admission. (ECF No. 20, p. 2). Metzger again asked Defendants to wait until he reviewed the document production before filing any motions. (ECF No. 20, p. 2-3). In a follow-up e-mail dated May 1, 2019, Metzger's attorney indicated that “[t]his is a busy time for me” and that it made sense for Defendants not to file any motions until the parties could discuss settlement. (ECF No. 20, p. 3).

         On May 23, 2019, following settlement discussions, Defendants sent Metzger an offer that would resolve the case. (ECF No. 20, p. 3). Metzger did not respond to that offer until June 21, 2019. (ECF No. 20, p. 4). Settlement negotiations ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.

         Defendants moved to withdraw their responses to Metzger's requests for admissions. Metzger responded to the motion on August 6, 2019. The parties then filed a joint motion to amend the Pretrial Scheduling Order, seeking to extend the fact discovery deadline from September 1, 2019 to December 20, 2019. Having reviewed both motions, the Court has chosen to strike the hearing and decide the matter on the papers.

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Court will begin with Defendants' motion to withdraw. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit parties to serve written requests for admission on any other party, provided the request is within the scope of Rule 26(b)(1). Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1). A party has 30 days to respond to a request for admission. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). Requests not answered during that time are deemed admitted, unless a longer time is stipulated to by the parties or ordered by the Court. Id. Matters deemed admitted are “conclusively established” unless the Court permits the admitting party to withdraw or amend their admission. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). The Court must permit a party to withdraw or amend an admission if doing so would “promote the presentation of the merits of the action” and would not cause prejudice to the requesting party.” Id.

         Defendants' motion can be easily resolved. Indeed, in the majority of cases, motions like these usually are resolved by agreement of parties with no Court involvement. Allowing Defendants to withdraw their admissions will facilitate a proper decision on the merits and will not cause any prejudice to Metzger. The extension of the fact discovery deadline, as discussed below, will ensure Metzger has ample time to review the impact the withdrawal of these admissions will have on his case and to pursue any discovery he requires in light of this change in circumstances.

         Furthermore, Metzger has provided no compelling reason why this motion should be denied. He claims only that Defendants have exhibited a “continual” disregard for this Court's rules and that certain documents produced in discovery show that the admissions are appropriate. Undoubtedly, Defendants should have conducted themselves more diligently with regards to Metzger's requests for admissions. But to deny their motion on those grounds would be tantamount to the Court imposing a sanction designating certain ...


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