“Today is not Groundhog Day”: EDPA Addresses Continual Case Deadline Extensions (PA)
While we are all feeling the toll of endless repetitive days of working from home and COVID-19 restrictions, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in a recent case reminded the parties that, at least in court, an endless loop of resetting deadlines is not acceptable.
In the recently decided case, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co. v. Dynamic Solutions Worldwide, LLC, a 2019 house fire led to a lawsuit and subsequently to a declaratory judgment action. The first scheduling order was issued on September 1, 2020, setting an expert discovery deadline of January 29, 2021. The defendant filed for multiple extensions, which were granted on the basis that the need for an electrical expert was unknown to the defendant until the plaintiff produced its own electrical expert. After extensive discovery and multiple “resets” of the deadlines for expert disclosure and discovery, the plaintiff filed a motion to preclude defendant’s expert as the defendant had failed to adhere to the latest deadline of May 10 – a full four months after the original expert discovery deadline.
In its analysis, the court made light of the time loop-like nature of the deadlines, noting that “today is not ‘Groundhog Day,’ and the Court is not Bill Murray. Unlike the comedic film, a civil litigant cannot expect a redo of the deadlines every time the alarm clock sounds their expiration.” But in deciding to grant the plaintiff’s motion, the court showed that preclusion is no laughing matter, stating that “when the Court runs out of carrots, sometimes it must reach for a stick.” This lighthearted take on a draining process shows the importance of not taking extensions for granted and sticking to expert deadlines – even when each day feels like the one before!
Thanks to Abby Wilson for her contribution to this post. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Colleen Hayes.