Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Murphy v. Harpstead

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

December 6, 2019

Tenner Murphy, by his Guardian Kay Murphy; Marrie Bottelson; Dionne Swanson; and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Jodi Harpstead, in her Capacity as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Defendant.

          Justin H. Perl, Esq., Eren Ernest Sutherland, Esq., Justin M. Page, Esq., Steven C. Schmidt, Esq., Barnett I. Rosenfield, Esq., Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, Minnesota Disability Law Center, Joseph W. Anthony, Esq., Peter McElligott, Esq., Steven M. Pincus, Esq., Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie PA, and Laura Farley, Nichols Kaster, PLLP, counsel for Plaintiffs.

          Aaron Winter, Esq., Brandon L. Boese, Esq., Janine Wentz Kimble, Esq., Scott H. Ikeda, Esq., Minnesota Attorney General's Office, counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          BECKY R. THORSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's request for relief relating to Plaintiffs' June 2019 and August 2019 productions totaling over 10, 600 pages of additional third-party documents. These document productions were made one year after fact discovery closed in June 2018. Plaintiffs did not begin collecting releases for these documents until February 2019, and did not begin requesting the documents from the third parties until March 2019 - after dispositive motions were heard on January 25, 2019, and taken under advisement. Defendant was unaware of this third-party discovery activity until June 2019, when over 3, 000 pages were produced, and August 2019, when another 7, 600 pages were produced. The Court was also not informed of this third-party discovery activity and production until this motion was brought in September 2019.

         Defendant seeks sanctions for the late production pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. Plaintiffs oppose Defendant's motion, taking the position that their informal collection of documents from third parties via releases signed by their clients was not controlled by the fact discovery deadline set forth in the Court's scheduling orders. Further, Plaintiffs argue that their production was mandatory, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e), which governs the supplementation of a party's Rule 26(a) Initial Disclosures. For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This case was filed on August 3, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) The first Pretrial Scheduling Order was issued on November 9, 2016. (Doc. No. 25.) In the parties' joint Rule 26(f) Report, Plaintiffs proposed that fact discovery be completed by May 2017; however, the Court provided more time and set the fact discovery deadline for August 15, 2017. (Doc. Nos. 21, 25.) An Amended Pretrial Scheduling order was issued on July 17, 2017, and the discovery deadline was extended to November 15, 2017, as proposed jointly by the parties. (Doc. No. 58.) In October 2017, the parties jointly submitted another extension request, taking the position that there was good cause for the amendment because “significant discovery remains to be completed and likely cannot be completed in advance of the current discovery deadline.” (Doc. No. 110.) Based on the parties' representations, the Court issued a Second Amended Pretrial Scheduling Order extending the fact discovery deadline to February 15, 2018. (Doc. No. 115.)

         During the discovery period, Plaintiffs filed a motion to compel documents responsive to their Request Nos. 18, 19, 20, 22, 24, and 25 that were kept by third-party agencies, [1] but under the control of Defendant. (Doc. No. 119.) On November 20, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion as to these requests and concluded that the “requests [were] overly broad and unduly burdensome as applied to every county and tribe.” (Doc. No. 148, 11/20/17 Order at 6-7.) In its order, the Court observed that Plaintiffs would be in a better position to frame proper document requests-or to establish Defendant's control of responsive documents-if they conducted a 30(b)(6) deposition to obtain knowledge about the documents kept by DHS or lead agencies. (Id. at 7.) The Court set a December 29, 2017 deadline for this 30(b)(6) document deposition and a January 30, 2018 deadline for serving new written discovery in a Third Amended Scheduling Order issued on November 20, 2017. (Doc. No. 149, 11/20/17 Order at 2-3.) The deadline for responses was March 5, 2018. (Id. at 4.) The Third Amended Scheduling Order also required the parties to supplement their Initial Disclosures by January 30, 2018. (Id. at 3.) In addition, because of the parties' dispute over the control of third-party documents, third-party discovery was anticipated; therefore, the Third Amended Scheduling Order required the parties to serve any third-party subpoenas seeking fact discovery by April 13, 2018. (Id. at 6.) The Court also set several status conferences to keep the case on track. (Id. at 2.)

         On April 6, 2018, at a discovery motion hearing, Plaintiffs made an oral motion to extend the April 13, 2018 date for serving third-party subpoenas, which had been set back in November 2017. The Court denied Plaintiffs' request from the bench for lack of good cause. (Doc. No. 229.)

         Almost two months later, on May 29, 2018, the parties proposed amending the Third Amended Scheduling Order, representing that:

• “[C]ounsel and the parties have diligently pursued discovery to meet deadlines related to fact discovery;”
• “[T]he parties continue to produce responsive documents;”
• “[T]hird parties continue to produce responsive documents in response to subpoenas served by Plaintiffs;”
• “Plaintiffs seek additional time to share information learned through fact depositions and documents with their expert witnesses;”
• “Plaintiffs believe that allowing their expert witnesses additional time to review information learned in documents and fact depositions will increase the quality of expert reports;” and
• “Plaintiffs believe there is good cause to amend the deadlines in the Third Amended Pretrial Scheduling Order relating to expert witnesses and non-dispositive motions, and Defendant does not object.”

(Doc. No. 236, Stipulation to Amend 2-3.) On June 4, 2018, the Court adopted the parties' proposed schedule to extend the expert deadlines so that the remaining fact discovery being collected could be considered by the experts. (Doc. No. 239, 6/4/17 Order.) According to the new schedule, Plaintiffs' opening reports were due on July 20, 2018, and Defendant's opening reports were due on July 27, 2018. (Id. at 1-2.) Rebuttal experts were to be disclosed by August 10, 2018, and rebuttal reports were to be served by September 12, 2018. All expert discovery, including expert depositions, was to be completed by September 27, 2018. (Id. at 2.)

         On June 7, 2018, Plaintiffs informed Defendant that they believed their production of documents was substantially complete. (Doc. No. 267, Aff. of Janine Kimble (“Kimble Aff.”) ¶ 6.) On June 8, 2018, based on the parties' stipulation, the Court amended the deadline for non-dispositive motions relating to written fact discovery to allow Plaintiffs to file a motion relating to Defendant's document productions that occurred after April 6, 2018 by June 8, 2018. (Doc. No. 242, 6/8/18 Order.) That same day, in addition to a motion for sanctions for Defendant's noncompliance with the Court's discovery orders (Doc. No. 243), Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to compel certain counties that had been served with Rule 45 subpoenas to produce case files responsive to certain requests made in the subpoenas. (Doc. No. 249.) In their brief supporting their motion to compel, Plaintiffs stated the following:

If the Counties fail to produce these case files, Plaintiffs will be prejudiced because Plaintiffs are unlikely to obtain these documents another way. The Court has already denied Plaintiffs' motion to compel Defendant to produce some of the same documents in the possession of the Counties and the deadline for additional written discovery has passed . . . . In that order, the Court indicated, “This Order makes no ruling regarding what information might be subject to third party discovery pursuant to a properly issued subpoena under Rule 45.” . . . Furthermore, the deadline to serve subpoenas has passed . . . . In sum, if the Court does not ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.