United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
WILLIAM R. CLAYTON and JILL D. CLAYTON, Plaintiffs,
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORP., et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR LIMITED
DISCOVERY ON CAUSE OF DEATH
L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court is Defendant Syd Carpenter, Marine Contractor,
Inc.'s (“Syd Carpenter”) motion to extend the
discovery deadline and to allow limited discovery into
Plaintiff William R. Clayton's cause of death. (Mot.
(Dkt. # 150).) Plaintiff Jill D. Clayton opposes the motion.
(Resp. (Dkt. # 151).) Syd Carpenter filed a reply. (Reply
(Dkt. # 154).) The court has considered the motion, the
submissions in support of and in opposition to the motion,
the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law.
Being fully informed, the court GRANTS Syd Carpenter's
motion, subject to the limitations set forth below.
August 19, 2019, the court granted in part Syd
Carpenter's motion to continue the trial in this case.
(See 08/19/19 Order (Dkt. # 148); see also
Mot. to Continue (Dkt. # 139); Am. Sched. Order (Dkt. #
149).) The court ordered that “[a]ll pretrial deadlines
that have passed will not be rescheduled except that the
court allows Syd Carpenter to conduct limited discovery on
Mrs. Clayton and the two Clayton heirs on the issue of
damages.” (08/19/2019 Order at 2.) The court further
stated that “[i]f a party wishes to conduct limited
discovery on the issue of Mr. Clayton's cause of death,
the court will entertain a motion on that issue.”
(Id. at 2-3.)
Carpenter now seeks limited additional discovery on Mr.
Clayton's cause of death. (See Mot. at 1.) Syd
Carpenter asserts that this additional discovery is necessary
because “Mr. Clayton passed away on May 28, 2019, or
five days before discovery closed and approximately two
months after expert disclosures [were due].”
(Id. at 1; see also Sched. Order (Dkt. #
49) at 1 (setting the discovery deadline to June 3, 2019).)
Syd Carpenter argues that because the plaintiffs filed their
corrected amended complaint alleges a wrongful death cause of
action on August 15, 2019, after the close of discovery,
additional discovery is necessary to evaluate “[t]he
nature of the damages and claims have changed in light of Mr.
Clayton's passing.” (See Mot. at 2-3
(quoting Mot. to Continue at 1).)
Clayton responds that there is not good cause for additional
discovery because “Syd Carpenter has demonstrated time
and time again that delay, not diligence, is its primary
motive” and because Syd Carpenter “seeks
unlimited discovery.” (See Resp. at 6-7). Mrs.
Clayton also appears to suggest that no discovery on cause of
death is necessary because “Mr. Clayton's death
certificate unequivocally listed mesothelioma as his cause of
death.” (See Id. at 2.) In reply, Syd
Carpenter explains that it seeks only limited discovery, and
argues that additional discovery on cause of death is
necessary to obtain evidence on causation and
damages-evidence that should not be limited solely to the
death certificate. (See Reply at 2 (“Death
certification errors are common.”) (internal quotation
schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the
judge's consent.” Fed. R. Civ. P 16(b)(4). The
court finds that good cause exists to modify the court's
scheduling order and permit limited discovery on Mr.
Clayton's cause of death. The discovery deadline closed
before a wrongful death claim was at issue in this lawsuit.
Regardless of whether Syd Carpenter was diligent in pursuing
other discovery before the discovery deadline, Syd Carpenter
had no notice that it would need discovery on a claim that
was not in the case at that time.
court ORDERS that the current case schedule (see Am.
Sched. Order) is amended as follows:
deadline to disclose expert testimony is extended to December
16, 2019, for the sole purpose of allowing the parties to
disclose expert reports (or amendments to current expert
reports) on Mr. Clayton's cause of death. The deadline to
complete discovery is extended to January 31, 2020, for the
following limited purposes only:
• The parties may depose any experts who disclose
opinions on Mr. Clayton's cause of death, limited in
scope to Mr. Clayton's cause of death.
• The parties may obtain authorization to collect Mr.
Clayton's medical records from April 1, 2019 through May
28, 2019, the date of his death.
• The parties may depose Dr. Erina Sugai, M.D., on the
sole issue of Mr. Clayton's cause of death.
• The parties may depose individuals who served at the
time of Mr. Clayton's death as his primary care or
hospice medical providers. Such depositions shall be limited
in scope to Mr. Clayton's cause of death.
related to this additional discovery must be filed by January
10, 2020. Motions challenging expert witness testimony on Mr.
Clayton's cause of death must be filed by February 17,
2020. All other case deadlines as set forth in the