United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTION TO CONTINUE
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Plaintiff Judith Hancock's motion to
continue the remaining pretrial deadlines and the trial date
by 60 days. (Mot. (Dkt. # 64).) Defendants Aetna Life
Insurance Company (“Aetna”), The Boeing Company
Employee Health and Welfare Benefit Plan (Plan 503), and
Employee Benefits Plans Committee (collectively,
“Defendants”) oppose the motion. (Resp. (Dkt. #
68).) The court has considered the motion, the relevant
portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully
advised, the court grants in part and denies in part
the motion for the reasons set forth below.
case arises from Aetna's denial of long-term disability
benefits (“LTD benefits”) to Ms. Hancock.
(See SAC (Dkt. # 24) ¶¶ 1.2, 4.40, 4.51.)
In addition to a claim for LTD benefits, Ms. Hancock alleges
that Defendants breached their fiduciary duty under the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974
(“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. § 1001, et
seq. (Id. ¶¶ 5.4, 5.6-5.18.)
20, 2017, the court granted in part and denied in part Ms.
Hancock's motion to compel and Defendants' motion for
a protective order. (7/20/17 Order (Dkt. # 63) at 2.)
Relevant to the instant motion, the court ordered Aetna to
produce its “guidelines regarding LTD claims and
appeals and hiring outside medical professionals to perform
examinations and reviews, ” but only for “such
policies that were in place during the evaluation of Ms.
Hancock's claim and appeal.” (Id. at 17.)
Following the court's order, counsel for the parties
discussed production of the relevant claims information and
on August 23, 2017, Aetna produced 134 pages responsive to
the request for Aetna's claims information. (See
Mot. at 3-4; see also Crawford Decl. (Dkt. # 65)
¶¶ 2-13.) Then, after Ms. Hancock requested that
Aetna admit or deny that it had produced all materials
responsive to that request, on September 13, 2017, Aetna made
a supplemental production of 190 pages. (Mot. at 5; Crawford
Decl. ¶¶ 14-15.) The next day, Ms. Hancock served
additional discovery requests-two interrogatories and five
requests for production-related to Aetna's 190-page
supplemental production. (Reply (Dkt. # 70) at 1; Crawford
Decl. ¶ 17; 2d Crawford Decl. (Dkt. # 71) ¶ 2.)
September 14, 2017, Ms. Hancock moved to continue the
remaining pretrial deadlines and trial date by 60 days. (Mot.
at 1.) She contends that Aetna's supplemental production
prompted her to request additional discovery. (Id.
at 3-5; Reply at 1.) Because Ms. Hancock served that
additional discovery on September 14, 2017, Aetna has until
October 14, 2017, to respond to those new requests. (Mot. at
6); Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2); Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(A). Even
though that date is well before the November 6, 2017,
discovery cutoff (Sched. Order (Dkt. # 20) at 1), should
Aetna object to the newly served discovery, Ms. Hancock may
not be able to file an appropriate discovery motion because
the deadline for doing so is October 6, 2017 (id.;
Mot. at 6; Reply at 3). The court now addresses Ms.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a schedule may
be modified only for good cause and with the judge's
consent. Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The good cause inquiry
focuses primarily on the diligence of the party requesting
the modification. Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations,
Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 607-08 (9th Cir. 1992).
Ms. Hancock has diligently sought discovery and to facilitate
a reasonable schedule for resolution of this case, the court
extends to October 18, 2017, the deadline for discovery
motions related only to Ms. Hancock's September 14th
discovery requests. The deadline remains unchanged for any
other discovery served before the cutoff.
this extension, the court strongly encourages the parties to
resolve any dispute without seeking the court's
intervention. The court has already expended significant
resources dealing with the parties' discovery disputes.
Nevertheless, should the parties be unable to resolve a
dispute related to the September 14, 2017, discovery
requests, the court will address the dispute pursuant to
Local Civil Rule 7(i). See Local Rules W.D. Wash.
LCR 7(i). The parties must file a joint statement of no more
than five pages detailing the nature of the dispute and the
applicable legal standards. See Id. (“[W]hat
procedural requirements will be imposed and the type of
relief granted are within the sole discretion of the
court.”). If the court receives such a motion, it will
then schedule a telephonic hearing.
the court denies Ms. Hancock's motion to extend the other
remaining pretrial deadlines, including the discovery cutoff,
and the trial date by 60 days. She has not shown good cause
for doing so, and her request contravenes the court's
usual practice of declining short continuances of trial
dates. Accordingly, all other dates in the court's
scheduling order remain unchanged.
reasons set forth above, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES
in part Ms. Hancock's motion to continue (Dkt. # 64). The
court GRANTS a continuance of the discovery motions deadline
to October 18, 2017, for matters related to Ms. Hancock's
September 14, 2017, discovery requests only. Although the
court encourages the parties to resolve any such dispute
without resort to court intervention, if the parties seek the
court's intervention, they must do so by ...