United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Lindsay, United States District Judge
the court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Additional Time to
Respond to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
54), filed November 1, 2017. For the reasons herein
explained, the court grants Plaintiffs'
Motion for Additional Time to Respond to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 54).
a premises liability lawsuit. On October 23, 2015, Plaintiffs
Marta Garcia (“Mrs. Garcia”) and Oscar Garcia
(“Mr. Garcia”) (sometimes collectively,
“Plaintiffs” or the “Garcias”) filed
this lawsuit in state court in Indiana, alleging negligence
and seeking damages for injuries Mrs. Garcia contends she
sustained on October 24, 2013, when she slipped and fell in
the bathtub of the Garcia's hotel room at a LaQuinta Inn
in Laredo, Texas. Mr. Garcia brings a claim for loss of
consortium. On December 3, 2015, Defendants removed this
action to federal court in the Northern District of Indiana,
Hammond Division, on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
See Notice of Removal (Doc. 1). Following removal,
Defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal
jurisdiction and improper venue. On June 20, 2016, the
district court, after concluding that it lacked personal
jurisdiction over Defendants, transferred the case to this
court in the “interest of justice.”
See Opinion and Order 2 (Doc. 22).
January 13, 2017, the court issued a Scheduling Order (Doc.
35), setting the case for trial on its four-week docket
beginning February 5, 2018. Pursuant to the Scheduling Order,
the deadline for Plaintiffs to designate experts was July 5,
2017, the deadline for Defendants to designate experts was
August 5, 2017, and the deadline for completion of discovery
was October 2, 2107.
August 25, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a motion seeking to vacate
the trial setting, extend the discovery deadline, and allow
them to designate an expert witness after the deadline had
passed and allow Defendants to also have additional time to
designate an expert witness. See Pls.' Mot. to
Vacate (Doc. 45). Defendants opposed the relief sought,
arguing that Plaintiffs had failed to exercise diligence in
prosecuting their case. Plaintiffs filed a reply detailing
the back and forth between the parties with respect to trying
to meet the discovery deadlines, as well as the logistical
issues encountered by Plaintiffs, who are approximately
seventy-five years of age, having to travel from Indiana to
Texas, and problems encountered by Plaintiffs' counsel, a
solo practitioner in Indiana. See Pls.' Reply
(Doc. 48) and Appendix thereto (Docs. 48-1 through 48-4).
Plaintiffs' motion to vacate the trial setting was
pending, Defendant LQ Management L.L.C. (“LQ
Management”), who will be the only remaining Defendant
in this action, [*] filed a motion for summary
judgment, contending, among other things, that Plaintiffs had
failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that it
had actual or constructive notice that the bathtub in the
Garcia's hotel room at the LaQuinta Inn in Laredo, Texas,
was in an unreasonably dangerous condition, or that such
condition, if it existed, proximately caused Mrs.
Garcia's injuries, or that the bathtub presented an
unreasonable risk of harm. See Def.'s Mot. Summ.
J. (Doc. 53); Summ. J. Br. (Doc. 54). Defendant also sought
summary judgment on the issue of damages as they relate to
lost earning capacity, future medical treatment,
disfigurement and impairment. Id. In response,
Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Additional Time to Respond
to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 54), in
which they incorporate all the arguments filed in support of
their pending Motion to Vacate Trial Setting, filed on August
25, 2017. Relying on the Affidavit of their counsel, Wanda E.
Jones, filed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d),
Plaintiffs contend that additional time is needed to take
further discovery to respond to Defendant's summary
judgment motion. Defendant opposes the motion, reasserting
the arguments it originally made in its opposition to
Plaintiffs' motion to vacate the trial setting, and
asserting that Plaintiffs have not been diligent in
prosecuting this case.
56(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applies to
motions to continue summary judgment responses. Rule 56(d)
(d) When Facts Are Unavailable to the Nonmovant. If a
nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for
specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to
justify its opposition, the court may:
(1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to
take discovery; or
(3) issue any other appropriate order.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). To obtain a continuance under Rule
56(d), the party opposing summary judgment must file a
motion, along with an affidavit or declaration, setting forth
why he or she cannot present, by affidavit or declaration,
evidence necessary to justify his or her opposition to the
summary judgment motion. Id.; see also Access
Telecom, Inc. v. MCI Telecomms. Corp ., 197 F.3d 694,
719 (5th Cir. 1999). The party moving for the continuance
must show why he needs the additional discovery and how the
additional discovery will demonstrate that a genuine dispute
of material fact exists. Stults v. Conoco, Inc., 76
F.3d 651, 657-58 (5th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). A party
may not “rely on vague assertions that additional
discovery will produce needed, but unspecified facts.”
Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Conn., 465 F.3d
156, 162 (5th Cir. 2006) (citation and quotation marks