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Pritchard v. County of Erie

March 20, 2006

ADAM PRITCHARD, EDWARD ROBINSON, JULENNE TUCKER, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, HON. HUGH B. SCOTT PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE COUNTY OF ERIE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Hugh B. Scott United States Magistrate Judge

Order

Before the Court is plaintiffs' latest motion to compel, namely the continued deposition of certain County Defendants'*fn1 witnesses and of defendant H. McCarthy Gipson*fn2 , as well as the deposition of two new County Defendants' witnesses and the costs for their continued examinations (Docket No. 86). Plaintiffs subsequently moved for extensions of time to complete class certification discovery, case-in-chief discovery, and the motion return date for the class certification motion (Docket Nos. 97, 98*fn3 ).

BACKGROUND

This is an action alleging that Erie County and its Sheriff's Department conducted unconstitutional strip searches of non-felony detainees, including plaintiffs, without reasonable cause. Plaintiffs are three individuals who allegedly were so searched in 2003 and 2004, and now claim that they represent a class of similarly situated persons who were illegally searched from July 2001 to the present.

Motion to Compel

Presently, plaintiffs move to compel either continued examinations or to allow new examinations of Sheriff's Department personnel, essentially as follow up to document demands (including privileged documents, see Docket Nos. 78, 79, 80, 84) (Docket No. 86, Pls. Atty. Affirm. ¶ 6), and recently produced documents (see Docket No. 86, Pls. Atty. Affirm. ¶¶ 3-5). This case has had extensive motion practice, in particular surrounding discovery*fn4 . Currently pending are the County Defendants' objection to this Court's Order to compel production of certain privileged documents, Docket No. 79, see Docket No. 78, Order.

The Court established the briefing schedule for this motion, with responses due by February 28, 2006, and any reply by March 7, 2006, with the motion then deemed submitted without oral argument on March 7, 2006 (Docket No. 89).

Motion for Extensions of Time

The Court issued a Scheduling Order on February 23, 2005 (Docket No. 13), which set deadlines for two types of discovery. First, class certification discovery was to be completed (as subsequently amended) by January 30, 2006 (Docket No. 75), and second, regular case-in-chief fact and expert discovery, to be completed by April 6, 2006 (Docket No. 13). Good cause was shown for this extended discovery schedule (Docket No. 13).

Initially, class certification discovery was to be completed by August 23, 2005, with the class certification motion filed by September 23, 2005, Docket No. 13, Scheduling Order ¶ 2. While the parties' first round of discovery motions were pending (see Docket Nos. 16, 22, 25), the parties stipulated to extend the time for the class certification motion, to October 27, 2005 (Docket No. 27). The Court's Order that ruled on the first round of discovery motions also extended the class certification motion to December 20, 2005, as the final extension of that deadline (Docket No. 52, Order at 26). The Court expressly stated that the December 20 extension was "generous enough to make the motion [for class certification] while not dependent upon the vagaries of document production. This, however, will be the last extension of the class certification deadline" (id.). The Court concluded that "whatever plaintiffs glean from the booking sheets they receive (and other discovery they obtain) should be sufficient to put together a motion to certify their proposed class." (Id.)

Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case; further extensions were granted. The parties jointly stipulated to extend the class certification discovery and filing of the certification motion (Docket No. 75). The former was due by January 30, 2006 (the current deadline), and the latter by February 2, 2006 (Docket No. 75). Plaintiffs wrote on January 30, 2006 (see Docket No. 91, County Defs. Atty. Affirm. Ex. B), seeking a further extension of the deadline for their class certification motion. The Court granted that request, giving plaintiffs forty-five days to make their motion, or by Monday, March 20, 2006 (Docket Nos. 82, 83). The deadline to file a class certification motion was further extended by one day, to Tuesday, March 21, 2006 (Docket No. 102, Order of Friday, March 17, 2006).

At first, no party following plaintiffs' present motion to compel moved to extend the discovery for the case-in-chief deadline, although the County Defendants suggest in their response that this deadline may need to be changed in light of the extensions granted for plaintiffs' class certification motion (see Docket No. 91, County Defs. Atty. Decl. ¶ 28) and plaintiffs in reply also indicated that they may so move (Docket No. 93, Pls. Atty. Reply Affirm. ¶ 9).

Plaintiffs now move for the extension of the class certification discovery and the class certification motion deadlines making these dates dependent upon when Judge Curtin rules on the County Defendants' objections to the privilege Order, with class certification discovery to be completed within thirty days after Judge Curtin rules, and the class certification motion due within sixty days of that Decision & Order (Docket Nos. 97, 98). Plaintiffs also request that discovery in the case-in-chief conclude by August 6, 2006. Plaintiffs' counsel notes defense objections to these extensions (Docket No. 97, Pls. Atty. Affirm. ¶ 2; see generally Docket No. 100, County Defs. Atty. Reply Affirm.; Docket No. 101, Gipson Atty. Affirm.), but plaintiffs make this motion to complete their discovery in light of pending discovery regarding the sought privileged documents and the depositions sought in the motion to compel (Docket No. 97, Pls. Atty. Affirm. ¶¶ 4-9).

All defendants strenuously object to granting plaintiffs additional time, given plaintiffs' delay in conducting discovery and the impact of prior Orders concluding class certification discovery (see generally Docket No. 100, County ...


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