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AUSCAPE INTERNATIONAL v. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


April 3, 2003

AUSCAPE INTERNATIONAL, ETC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lewis A. Kaplan, United States District Judge

ORDER

By nearly identical letters dated March 24, 2003, plaintiffs have sought an extension of the scheduling order (which required the conclusion of discovery by April 2, 2003) and other relief in consequence of what they claim is defendants' lack of cooperation in completing discovery. The parties subsequently have exchanged several letters leveling charges and countercharges in this regard. For the most part, the letters reflect the sort of discourtesy, incivility, and insistence on minor formalities in disregard of substance that unfortunately has characterized this case from the outset.

Plaintiffs' claims are exaggerated. For example, their suggestion that they were precluded by the Court's October 28, 2002 order from conducting merits discovery until recently is spun out of whole cloth and, in any case, inadequate to justify fully their substantial delay in commencing their discovery program. While it is true that they recently have endeavored to do a great deal in a short period of time, it also is true that they delayed significantly in getting started and bear at least some responsibility for the time pressure under which they now are functioning.

Similarly, they seek an order compelling defendants to produce Rule 30(b)(6) witnesses, even on categories of discovery to which defendants have objected. But they have not attempted to address the merits of the objections, preferring instead to point to the lack of "formal" objections in complete disregard of the undisputed fact that objections, whether or not properly characterized as "formal," in fact were served.

In short, the record strongly suggests that the plaintiffs have created a bind for themselves and are trying desperately to have the Court extricate them or, at a minimum, to create a record for appeal. There is no basis for either. Nevertheless, the Court is mindful that the parties have been working very hard in recent weeks to prepare the case for dispositive motions and, if need be, a trial. Hence, although the Court is firmly persuaded that a short deadline is necessary to avoid discovery expanding beyond all reasonable limits, a limited and brief extension would not be unreasonable in the circumstances.

Accordingly, notwithstanding the conclusion of the discovery period, the parties may continue depositions to and including April 16, 2003. The other unexpired dates in the scheduling order each are extended by fourteen days. Absent extraordinary cause, no further extensions will be granted.

SO ORDERED.

20030403

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