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Harley Marine Services, Inc. v. Fathom Marine, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 21, 2018

HARLEY MARINE SERVICES, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
FATHOM MARINE, INC., et al, Defendants.

         IN ADMIRALTY

          BAUER MOYNIHAN & JOHNSON LLP Thomas G. Waller, WSBA No. 22963 Mark A. Krisher, WSBA No. 39314 Robert D. Sykes, WSBA No. 49635 Attorneys for plaintiffs Bauer Moynihan & Johnson LLP

          NICOLL BLACK & FEIG, PLLC Christopher Nicoll, WSBA No. 20771 Chris Reilly, WSBA No. 25585 Attorneys for defendants

          AMENDED STIPULATION AND PROPOSED ORDER

          HONORABLE MARSHA J. PECHMAN UNITED STATES SENIOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         AMENDED STIPULATION

         The parties respectfully submit this Amended Stipulation and Proposed Order to Amend the Trial Schedule, in response to the Court's denial (Dkt. 41) of the original Stipulation of June 18, 2018 (Dkt. 40). By mediating the underlying dispute on July 13, the parties are attempting to fulfill the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 1: resolving this case in a "just, speedy, and inexpensive" manner.

         As in their original Stipulation, the parties seek to shift only three dates: (1) the deadline for the disclosure of expert witness reports; (2) the close of discovery; and (3) the deadline for any motions pertaining to discovery. Moreover, the parties are seeking to move the discovery and disclosure dates by only (approximately) one month. These dates are internal scheduling deadlines impacting the parties that will not disturb or involve the Court. The parties do not anticipate filing discovery motions, nor do they anticipate requiring Court involvement in the disclosure of expert witness reports. The trial date, and all related pre-trial deadlines, remain ' undisturbed.

         The parties believe this minimal, one-month extension of disclosure deadlines is ■ appropriate in order to facilitate the planned July 13 mediation. The parties believe the scheduled 1 mediation provides the last, best opportunity to resolve this case short of trial. Mediation thus > represents the best chance of a "just, speedy, and inexpensive" resolution. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1.

         The Court admonished the parties that "[m]ediation is not required and can take place at any time." Dkt. 41. What the Court did not know, because the parties neglected to mention it, is that the planned July 13 mediation cannot take place at any time, because it will not merely involve plaintiffs and defendants. Rather, the mediation will involve plaintiffs, defendants, and two international, non-party insurance interests from The Shipowner's Gut)-a London-based insurer who provided both P&I and pollution coverage for plaintiffs and defendants. In addition to this, negotiations are ongoing with Royal Sun Alliance, plaintiffs and defendants' Vancouver, British Columbia-based hull insurer. Payments from these insurance interests may resolve all, or (at a minimum) a substantial part, of the underlying dispute. Coordinating settlement efforts with these international insurers has proven quite difficult. July 13 is the only date that worked for all parties necessary for the mediation. Thus, mediation cannot take place at any time, and the only time that the parties can reasonably engage in such efforts is July 13.

         Involving these international insurance interests has not only proven difficult but also has required the parties to direct efforts towards letter-writing campaigns, coverage analysis, and policy interpretation. This has necessarily interfered with the parties' ability to retain experts while concurrently raising the issue of whether or not such expert witnesses will be necessary. Again, the parties are seeking to focus their efforts on what is most likely to resolve this multiparty litigation in a "just, speedy, and inexpensive" manner. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. With the insurance interests now fully engaged, the parties believe that spending tens of thousands of dollars on retaining and disclosing experts, who may be wholly unnecessary, is neither just nor inexpensive.

         Even if mediation on July 13 does not result in a settlement of all pending claims, it could result in a partial settlement of discrete claims. If that occurs, the scope of the potential expert opinions needed may dramatically decrease. The efficiencies realized by such a decrease are further justification for a brief delay in the disclosure until after mediation.

         The parties have not simply disregarded the Court's case schedule. Some experts and their reports have already been retained and disclosed. See, e.g., Reports of Captain Emmel, Dkts. 32; 32-1-32-6. Additionally, four depositions of the parties' corporate officers, three of which lasted over 7 hours, have already taken place. Over 20, 000 pages of documents have been exchanged in discovery. A motion for partial summary judgment has been fully briefed and submitted. The parties have not neglected the current case schedule. They are simply requesting one month of additional time to retain and disclose additional expert opinions and conduct discovery related thereto.

         Finally, though the Court is correct in indicating that mediation is not required, ADR is "encourage[d] and promote[d]" by the Court's local rules and federal statute. LCR 39.1(a)(1); 28 U.S.C. § 651, et seq. As mentioned, mediation represents the last, best hope for the parties to resolve this matter without a full trial. It will involve the coordination of multiple, international insurance interests. Preparation for mediation will also involve complex insurance issues not directly relevant to the issues presented in this lawsuit. Additional time the parties can spend preparing for mediation-rather than focusing on coordinating potentially unnecessary expert opinions-will prove crucial in reaching the parties' mutual goal of a partial or global resolution of the pending claims in a just and inexpensive manner. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1.

         The parties believe the foregoing demonstrates the "good cause" necessary for this minimal extension of ...


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