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Bilal v. Best Buy Co.

July 7, 2008

MUHAMMAD TARIQ BILAL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BEST BUY CO., INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kenneth M. Karas, District Judge

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Muhammad Tariq Bilal brings this employment discrimination action against Defendant Best Buy Co., Inc. The Complaint alleges that Defendant discriminated and retaliated against Plaintiff on the basis of his national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and New York State Human Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), N.Y. Exec. Law § 290 et seq.

On April 16, 2007, Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of Plaintiff's discrimination and retaliation claims. Rather than responding to Defendant's Motion, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Additional Discovery Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) ("Rule 56(f)"). For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED. Plaintiff is directed to file a response to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment three weeks from the date of this Order.

I. Background

Plaintiff's Complaint was filed on May 26, 2006. (Dkt. No. 1.) The Complaint alleges four causes of action: (1) violation of Title VII for failure to promote; (2) violation of Title VII for wrongful termination of employment; (3) violation of Title VII for retaliation; and (4) violation of NYSHRL for failure to promote, wrongful termination of employment, and retaliation.

On July 14, 2006, the Parties met with Judge McMahon, to whom this case initially was assigned, to set a case management plan. (Dkt. No. 4.)*fn1 According to the case management plan, Defendant had until September 21, 2006 to depose Plaintiff, and discovery was to be completed by January 26, 2007. (Id.) Defendant did depose Plaintiff, but did not do so until December 12, 2006. (Pl.'s Ex. 13.)

On January 3, 2007, approximately three weeks before discovery was set to close, and eight months after filing his Complaint, Plaintiff issued his very first set of discovery requests to Defendant and noticed several depositions of Defendant's employees. (Haberman Affirmation Ex. 3-4.) As Defendant was not required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to respond to Plaintiff's request within the remaining allotted period of discovery, Plaintiff requested that Judge McMahon adjourn the discovery completion date. (Dkt. No. 8.) Judge McMahon reluctantly granted the request, but did so with the following endorsement:

Mr. H[aberman, Counsel for Plaintiff] -- I am not terribly sympathetic, but then, your opponent seems to have taken his time about deposing your client. Discovery [is] extended until March 1.

All 30 day notice periods are shortened to five days. Don't ask for more time at the end of February. (Dkt. No. 8.) Once Judge McMahon granted the extension of discovery, the Parties scheduled the depositions noticed by Plaintiff, and Defendant began assembling responses to Plaintiff's discovery requests. (Pl.'s Ex. 8.) Contemporaneously, however, the Parties began serious negotiations of settlement. (Pl.'s Ex. 9.) As a result of the settlement negotiations, the Parties agreed to cancel the scheduled depositions and Defendant ceased assembling answers to Plaintiff's discovery requests. (Def.'s Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. under F.R.C.P 56(f) and in Further Supp. of its Mot. for Summ. J. ("Def.'s Reply Mem.") 13-14; Haberman Affirmation ¶ 13.) On February 14, 2007, approximately two weeks before the extended discovery deadline was set to close, the Parties apparently reached an agreement to settle the case. (Def.'s Reply Mem. 14; Haberman Affirmation ¶ 13.)

On March 12, 2007, nearly a month after a settlement agreement supposedly had been reached, and nearly two weeks after discovery had closed, Plaintiff informed his counsel that he would not accept the previously-agreed-upon settlement offer. (Def.'s Reply Mem. 14; Haberman Affirmation ¶ 14.) Plaintiff communicated his change of heart to Defendant the following day, and then petitioned the Court to reopen discovery. (Def.'s Reply Mem. 14; Haberman Affirmation ¶ 14.) On March 21, 2007, Judge McMahon denied Plaintiff's application, stating specifically that "[t]he time for discovery has expired. I will not extend it.

No more discovery." (Dkt. No. 10.)*fn2

With discovery closed, Defendant submitted a Motion for Summary Judgment on April 16, 2007. (Dkt. Nos. 14-21.) On May 1, 2007, Plaintiff's Counsel requested an extension of time to file his response, tendering the following explanation for the request:

Over the past few weeks, my client has had some difficulty in making decisions about his action and in keeping appointments.

Several appointments which concerned substantive issues relative to this action have not been kept. I have been informed that he has needed some medical procedures. I also report to the Court that many telephone messages left with my client have gone unreturned. Mr. Bilal was scheduled to appear in my office today to discuss important issues concerning the status of this action, filing of papers as well as rebutting factual allegations set forth by the Defendant in their moving papers. Mr. Bilal failed to keep this meeting and has failed to return my telephone calls. (Dkt. No. 24.) In response to this letter, Judge McMahon granted Plaintiff a two-week adjournment. (Id.) Once the two weeks expired, Plaintiff's counsel requested another extension in order to pursue three possible options, "settlement, filing reply papers, and/or ...


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