United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE
COMPANY'S MOTION TO CONTINUE TRIAL DATE AND
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Ace American
Insurance Company's Motion to Continue Trial Date and
Deadlines. Dkt. #22. Defendant requests that the Court
continue the trial date by at least five months due to the
volume of discovery in this matter. Plaintiff King County
opposes the request and expresses its desire for the case to
continue as originally scheduled. Finding that
Defendant's requested continuance is not justified by
good cause, the Court denies the motion.
matter is an insurance coverage dispute related to a failed
conveyance pipe integrated into Plaintiff's wastewater
storage facility. Dkt. #1. The pipe failed after construction
and the Plaintiff incurred over $20, 000, 000 of costs to
investigate and remediate the damage. Plaintiff seeks
coverage for the damage from Defendant and asserts various
claims related to Defendant's handling and denial of the
claim. The dispute centers on whether the occurrence of
damage happened within the policy period. While the legal
issues are not overly complex, the factual underpinning is.
parties submitted a Joint Status Report and Discovery Plan to
the Court on February 20, 2019. Dkt. #8. The parties
represented that they would “conduct discovery
according to the Federal Rules and Local Civil Rules of the
Western District of Washington, but phased as outlined”
in their plan. Id. at ¶ 4.B. In general, the
parties anticipated conducting informal discovery before
mediating and proceeding to more formal discovery. See
Id. As a part of that plan, the parties agreed that
Plaintiff would provide an index of construction files and
that “Defendant will identify those folders that
contain documents it requests to be produced and such
documents shall be included in [Plaintiff's] supplemental
initial disclosures.” Id. at ¶ 4.B.a.iv.
The parties agreed that such documents would be produced
“on a rolling production basis.” Id.
Overall, the parties conveyed to the Court that they had
thought through the anticipated discovery and would not need
further intervention from the Court. Id. at ¶
5.D. The parties represented that the matter would be ready
for a 14-16-day trial by April 1, 2020. Id. at
¶¶ 10, 12.
upon the parties' joint status report, the Court set a
trial date of April 6, 2020 and set related case deadlines.
Dkt. #9. Relevant here, the Court ordered that expert witness
testimony be disclosed by October 9, 2019, that
discovery-related motions be noted no later than November 8,
2019, and that discovery be completed by December 9, 2019.
Id. at 1. Defendant now seeks to continue the trial
date and all related deadlines for no less than one hundred
fifty (150) days. Dkt. #22. Plaintiff opposes any
continuance. Dkt. #27.
Rule of Civil Procedure 16 permits modifications to case
schedules “only for good cause and with the judge's
consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4); LCR 16(b)(5). District
courts have “broad discretion” when deciding
whether to deny or grant a trial continuance. United
States v. Kloehn, 620 F.3d 1122, 1126 (9th Cir. 2010)
(quoting United States v. Flynt, 756 F.2d 1352, 1358
(9th Cir. 1985)). The court considers four factors when
determining whether a continuance is appropriate: “(1)
the requester's diligence in preparing for trial; (2) the
likely utility of the continuance, if granted; (3) the
inconvenience to the court and the other side; and (4)
prejudice from the denial.” United States v.
Pope, 841 F.2d 954, 956 (9th Cir. 1988) (discussing the
Flynt factors). Although the weight given to any one
factor depends on the specific case, a party must at least
“show prejudice resulting from the court's
denial” to succeed. Armant v. Marquez, 772
F.2d 552, 556-57 (9th Cir. 1985).
parties' briefing centers primarily on diligence, with
each side heaping blame on the other. Defendant maintains
that Plaintiff has delayed in producing documents and has
suddenly produced such voluminous records that
Defendant's experts cannot adequately prepare their
reports within the existing deadlines. Dkt. #22. Plaintiff
maintains that it is Defendant that has delayed in all
aspects of this dispute, that Plaintiff has sought to assure
that discovery proceeds in an orderly and timely manner, and
that Defendant has remained disengaged in the discovery
process until now. Dkt. #27. After reviewing the record, the
Court finds that Defendant has not established good cause.
parties and their counsel knew the magnitude of this matter,
both in terms of the records and the damages involved, from
the beginning. Dkt. #8. To this end, the parties coordinated
and set a plan for discovery upon which the Court issued a
scheduling order. Defendant offers no justification for its
inability to protect itself within the framework of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this Court's Local
Rules, and prior orders of this Court. The Court finds that
Defendant, with reasonable diligence, could have protected
itself from the current situation.
Defendant does not establish that it will be prejudiced in
the absence of a continuance. Rather, Defendant speculates
only that it “does not believe its experts
will have sufficient time to generate meaningful expert
reports prior to the current expert disclosure
deadline.” Dkt. #23 at ¶ 15 (emphasis added). The
Court notes that Defendant gives no indication as to the
importance of the documents at issue and has not sought to
compel the production of any documents. Similarly, Defendant
indicates that it plans to conduct fact depositions and that
“conducting these depositions prior to receiving and
evaluating all of the relevant documents produced and to be
produced is neither efficient nor economical.” Dkt. #23
at ¶ 14. But Defendant does not show that this is
necessarily the case. And, while efficiency and economy are
certainly important to the Court, Defendant's ability to
defend on the merits will not be prejudiced and any harms are
self-inflicted. At this time, Defendant has not demonstrated
good cause for a continuance.
and having reviewed the Motion and the briefing and the
remainder of the record, the Court finds and ORDERS that
Defendant Ace American Insurance Company's Motion ...