United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Eugene P. Harrison, a/k/a Eugene Paul Harrison, Sr., Plaintiff,
Jennifer C. Kennedy, HCV Senior Specialist Individually and/or in her Official Capacity as an Employee of the Sumter Housing Authority, Defendants.
ORDER AND OPINION
RICHARD MARK GARGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion to
extend discovery deadline (Dkt. No. 88). For the reasons set
forth below, the Court denied the motion.
dispute concerns Plaintiff Eugene Harrison's allegations
that he was unlawfully denied housing under the Housing
Choice Voucher Program and discriminated against based on a
disability. On October 26, 2018, the Court dismissed
Plaintiffs disability claims leaving Plaintiffs claim under
the Housing Act of 1937. (Dkt. No. 52.) In Plaintiffs Amended
Complaint, he includes claims for damages, including severe
mental and emotional distress. (Dkt. No. 76 at ¶¶
93, 102, 108.) The Court implemented an initial Scheduling
Order followed by a First, Second, and Third Amended
Scheduling Order. (Dkt. Nos. 32, 64, 69, 80.) The Third
Amended Scheduling Order set the final discovery deadline for
August 2, 2019, with dispositive motions due by August 9,
2019. (Dkt. No. 80.)
25 and 27, 2019, Defendants served multiple third-parties
with subpoenas for documents and depositions, with the
depositions to be held and the documents to be produced on
August 8, 2019, after the discovery deadline. (Dkt. No.
83-1.) The subpoenas sought the production of the elementary
school, middle school and high school files of Plaintiff s
daughter and the depositions of those schools; Plaintiffs
medical records, bank records, and rental records; and the
deposition of the mother of Plaintiff s ex-wife.
(Id.) On August 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion
for protective order, arguing the subpoenas sought discovery
after the deadline and alternatively sought to quash the
subpoenas. (Dkt. No. 83.) On August 7, 2019, the Court issued
an order that granted Plaintiffs motion for protective order
and quashed Defendants' subpoenas. (Dkt. No. 87.)
now seek to extend the discovery deadline thirty (30) days,
or until September 6, 2019. (Dkt. No. 88 at 1.) Defendants
argue an extension is warranted based on newly discovered
information regarding Plaintiffs claimed damages that
Plaintiff identified for the first time during his deposition
on July 25, 2019. (Dkt. No. 88 at 6.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) provides that a scheduling
order may only be modified "for good cause and with the
judge's consent." Fed.R.Civ.P 16(b). The primary
consideration is the diligence of the party seeking
extension." Dilmar Oil Co. v. Federated Mut. Ins.
Co., 986 F.Supp. 959, 980 (D.S.C.) The party seeking
extension must show that despite due diligence it could not
have reasonably met scheduled deadlines. Johnson v. Cty.
of Horry, S.C., No. 4.09-CV-1758-JMC-TER, 2012 WL
1895988, at *1 (D.S.C. May 23, 2012).
review of Defendants motion, the Court concludes that
Defendants fail to show good cause to extend the discovery
deadline thirty (30) days, or to September 6, 2019.
Defendants maintain that issuing additional discovery on July
25 and July 27, 2019 was necessary because Plaintiff
surprised Defendants during his deposition on July 25, 2019.
(Dkt. No. 88.) Defendants maintain that during Plaintiffs
deposition, he identified for the first time, evidence
regarding his mental health bills incurred as a result of the
denial of his housing voucher. (Dkt. No. 88 at 6.) Defendants
also argue that Plaintiff was required to update discovery
responses pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure Rule 26 (a).
Court has issued three scheduling orders in this case and
pushed the discovery deadline back on three separate
occasions. The initial discovery cutoff was November 26,
2018. (Dkt. No. 32.) Subsequently, the Court's Amended
Scheduling Order pushed the discovery cutoff to April 5,
2019. (Dkt. No. 64.) Next, the Court's Second Amended
Scheduling Order pushed the discovery deadline to June 5,
2019. (Dkt. No. 69.) Last, the Court's Third Amended
Scheduling Order implemented a final discovery deadline of
August 2, 2019. (Dkt. No. 80.) In that Order, the Court
specifically noted that "no further extensions will be
granted absence a conference with the court." (Dkt. No.
80.) With this scheduling history in mind, the Court reviews
the Defendants' efforts to comply with the discovery
justifications to extend the discovery deadline are
insufficient primarily because they fail to demonstrate
diligent efforts to conduct discovery in accordance with the
Court's discovery deadline. Defendants scheduled
Plaintiffs deposition for July 25, 2019, eight days before
the close of discovery. Yet, Defendants had ample time to
schedule depositions at an earlier date considering the
Court's previous discovery extensions. See Hernandez
v. Mario's Auto Sales, Inc., 617 F.Supp.2d 488, 497
(S.D. Tex. 2009) (finding that lack of diligence with regard
to scheduling witness depositions precluded extension of
discovery deadline.) Defendants claim they are surprised by
Plaintiffs disclosure of evidence pertaining to his
medical/mental health bills related to his claims, but
Plaintiff initially plead damages for suffering from severe
mental and emotional distress. (Dkt. No. 76 at ¶¶
93, 102, 108.) As such, Defendants had an opportunity to
investigate and engage in discovery regarding these claims.
See Johnson, 975 F.2d at 609 (noting that
carelessness is not compatible with a finding of diligence
and offers no reason for a grant of relief.) Now Defendants
seek to extend the discovery deadline after the discovery
cutoff has passed and one day before dispositive motions are
due. (Dkt. No. 83-1.) As such, Defendants have failed to
diligently meet discovery deadlines pursuant to the
Court's scheduling order and Defendants' motion is
foregoing reasons, The Court DENIES Defendants' motion to
extend the ...