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Fajemirokun v. Methodist Health System

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

February 21, 2018

AYODEJI FAJEMIROKUN, Plaintiff,
v.
METHODIST HEALTH SYSTEM and BENJAMIN ROZZELL, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Sam A. Lindsay United States District Judge.

         Before the court are Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion and Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 40), filed March 3, 2017; and Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Reply in Part, or in the Alternative, Motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply Regarding Plaintiff's Reply to Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 43), filed April 4, 2017. After considering the motions, briefs, record, and applicable law, the court denies Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion and Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 40); grants Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Reply in Part; and denies Defendants' Motion for Leave to file Sur-Reply Regarding Plaintiff's Reply to Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time.

         I. Factual Background

         This action was reassigned to the undersigned on April 27, 2016, pursuant to Special Order No. 3-304 (Doc. 35). Prior to this date, it was assigned to then-chief Judge Jorge A. Solis (“Judge Solis”). On September 5, 2014, Fajemirokun, as a pro se plaintiff, filed suit against Defendants in the 160th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas, alleging claims under state and federal law. On October 6, 2014, Defendants timely removed the action to federal court. On April 17, 2015, Judge Solis issued a Summary Judgment Briefing Schedule (Doc. 12). On July 16, 2015, Defendants timely moved for summary judgment (Doc. 14).

         On October 22, 2015, Fajemirokun filed a Notice of Designation of Attorney in Charge (Doc. 28) and designated Lui Akwuruoha as his attorney. The court subsequently issued an order: (1) granting in part Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Amended Pleading (Doc. 18) and requiring Plaintiff's counsel to file an amended complaint by March 3, 2016; (2) denying Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Amended Complaint and Brief in Support (Doc. 20); and (3) finding moot Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (“Defendants' Original Motion for Summary Judgment”) (Doc. 14).

         On March 3, 2016, Judge Solis issued a scheduling order (the “Scheduling Order”) with a discovery deadline of February 1, 2017, a dispositive motion deadline of March 3, 2017, and a trial date of June 5, 2017 (Doc. 33). On March 3, 2017, Defendants timely filed Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 37), which was their second motion for summary judgment. Instead of filing a response on March 23, 2017, Fajemirokun filed Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion for Extension of Time (Doc. 40), arguing that the second summary judgment motion runs afoul to Local Civil Rule 56.2 (b). Alternatively, Fajemirokun requests an extension of time to file a response, even though he did not move to extend discovery prior to the February 1, 2017 deadline.

         In opposition to the motion to strike and extend time, Defendants argue that they timely filed their dispositive motion pursuant to the Scheduling Order. Defendants further argue that: (1) Plaintiff is estopped from arguing that they are not entitled to file a dispositive motion because Plaintiff agreed to the dispositive motion deadline; (2) Plaintiff's motion to strike is frivolous and not a substitute for a response; and (3) Plaintiff's motion to strike is unduly prejudicial to Defendants' rights.

         In Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. 42) to Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time, Fajemirokun made a new argument in support of his motion for an extension of time. Fajemirokun argues that an extension of time is necessary “based on the need for further discovery to respond properly to Defendants' Second Motion for Summary Judgment, in the event the Court does not strike Defendants' Motion.” He further argues that he understood the deadline to file a summary judgment to apply only to Defendants because they previously filed a motion for summary judgment. Moreover, Fajemirokun disagrees with Defendants' conclusion that his acceptance of the Scheduling Order established a new dispositive motion deadline for all parties and contends that an extension would not result in undue delay.

         II. Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         Fajemirokun's interpretation of Local Civil Rule 56.2(b) completely disregards the Scheduling Order and misapprehends the rule. The rule provides, “Unless otherwise directed by the presiding judge, or permitted by law, a party may file no more than one motion for summary judgment.” Id. Since Judge Solis denied the motion as moot and permitted Fajemirokun to file an amended complaint, he never addressed the merits of Defendants' Original Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 14). Further, Judge Solis issued a Scheduling Order that provided a new dispositive motion deadline. In light of the new dipositive motion deadline and Judge Solis's denial of the initial summary judgment motion as moot, it is clear to the court that Judge Solis was granting Defendants leave to file a second motion for summary judgment. Moreover, notwithstanding the language of Local Civil Rule 56, “a presiding judge may direct the parties to proceed in any manner that the judge deems just and expeditious.” Local Civil Rule 83.1. From this plain language, the presiding judge may abrogate a local rule. Additionally, the record reflects that the parties met and conferred (Doc. 31) prior to the Scheduling Order being issued by Judge Solis; therefore, Fajemirokun was aware of the new dispositive motion deadline, and he is estopped from arguing that Defendants are not entitled to file a second dispositive motion. For all these reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 40) is nonsensical and without merit. Accordingly, the court will deny the motion.

         B. Plaintiff's Request for an Extension of Time

         Alternatively, Fajemirokun requests a continuance to allow him to respond to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 40). The court treats his request as one for a continuance pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) (“Rule 56(d)”). This rule provides:

(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 ...

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