United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM ORDER AND OPINION
KIMBERLY C. PRIEST JOHNSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Enlargement of
Time to Deem Timely Plaintiffs' Responses to Request for
Admissions and Relief from Technical Admissions (the
“Motion”) (Dkt. 38), to which Defendants filed a
response (Dkt. 46), and Plaintiff filed a reply (Dkt. 51).
The Court held a hearing on the Motion on October 31, 2019
(the “Hearing”). See Dkt. 62.
served their First Request for Admissions, containing one
hundred and one (101) requests for admissions (the
“Requests”), on April 23, 2019. See Dkt.
38 at 1. May 23, 2019, the deadline for Plaintiffs'
responses to the Requests, passed without any action from
Plaintiffs. On May 27, 2019, Plaintiffs' counsel
requested, from opposing counsel, an extension to respond
until June 5, 2019 See Dkt. 38 at 1. Plaintiffs
argue they instructed their paralegal to calendar the June 5,
2019, deadline but the paralegal failed to do so. See
id. Plaintiffs also assert they had a different case
placed on an expedited trial schedule, creating an unexpected
increase in work. See id. Hence, Plaintiffs argue
that, due to their calendar error and the additional
workload, Plaintiffs' counsel inadvertently missed the
deadline to serve their responses to the Requests. See
Id. at 2. Plaintiffs actually served their responses to
the Requests (the “Responses”) on July 1, 2019.
See id. At no time did Defendants contact Plaintiffs
regarding the tardiness of the Responses prior to
Plaintiffs' late service of the Responses. See
filed an Amended Counterclaim (Dkt. 33) on July 31, 2019,
which seeks, in part, to invalidate Plaintiffs'
trademarks at issue in this case based on Plaintiffs'
untimely Responses (i.e., admissions). See Dkt. 33.
Plaintiffs argue not allowing for the Responses is an extreme
measure, resulting in unfair prejudice to Plaintiffs, and
filed the present Motion to deem the Responses timely served.
See Dkt. 38.
contend they never agreed to extend the original deadline,
May 23, 2019. See Dkt. 46 at 2. Defendants also
argue Plaintiffs have not shown good cause for the tardiness
of their Responses and thus failed to show excusable neglect.
See id. Defendants argue, both in their briefing and
at the Hearing, they had no duty to notify Plaintiffs
regarding the tardiness of Plaintiffs' Responses and have
been prejudiced in the delay of time as it has impacted what
they can rely upon in litigating this case. See id.
Court may extend filing periods under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 6(b) for good cause. If the motion for extension of
time is made after the expiration of a deadline, the party
must show that it failed to act because of excusable neglect.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). “Although inadvertence,
ignorance of the rules, or mistakes construing the rules do
not usually constitute ‘excusable' neglect, it is
clear that ‘excusable neglect' under Rule 6(b) is a
somewhat ‘elastic concept' and is not limited
strictly to omissions caused by circumstances beyond the
control of the movant.” Pioneer Inv. Servs. Co. v.
Brunswick Assocs. Ltd. P'ship, 507 U.S. 380, 392
(1993) (footnotes omitted). “Relevant factors to the
excusable neglect inquiry include: the danger of prejudice to
the [non-movant], the length of the delay and its potential
impact on the judicial proceedings, the reason for the delay,
including whether it was within the reasonable control of the
movant, and whether the movant acted in good faith.”
Adams v. Travelers Indem. Co. of Conn., 465 F.3d
156, 161 n.8 (5th Cir. 2006) (alteration in original)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). “Even
if good cause and excusable neglect are shown, it nonetheless
remains a question of the court's discretion whether to
grant any motion to extend time under Rule 6(b).”
McCarty v. Thaler, 376 F. App'x. 442, 444 (5th
Cir. 2010) (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife
Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 894-98 (1990)).
hearing argument from the parties at the Hearing, the Court
stated its intention to grant Plaintiffs' Motion. The
Court, however, provides analysis regarding its decision to
grant the Motion.
Danger of Prejudice to Defendants
Court recognizes the potential for prejudice to Defendants
given the costs incurred in reliance on the lack of timely
Responses to the Requests. Defendants have, in addition to
responding to the present Motion, prepared and filed amended
counterclaims based on the lack of timely responses, thus
resulting in admissions. Additionally, the Court notes that
if no adjustment to the scheduling order in this case were
allowed, deadlines have expired which would undoubtably
prejudice Defendants. The Court, however, recognizes that
Plaintiffs did notify Defendants of their intention to
respond only slightly after the deadline had passed. Thus,
Defendants could reasonably believe that Plaintiffs intended
to file responses to the Requests and file a motion
requesting leave to deem the responses timely filed from a
date well before the present Motion was filed. Additionally,
as stated at the Hearing, the Court will allow the parties to
amend the scheduling order to permit Defendants additional
time to file amended pleadings and, given the parties consent
to proceed before the undersigned, file dispositive motions
accounting for the Responses. Thus, the Court finds that
while Defendants will experience some amount of prejudice,
due to the Court's commitment to adjust scheduling
deadlines, the prejudice Defendants will experience is
relatively minimal and will not fundamentally impact a
decision on the merits of the case.
The Length of the Delay and its Potential Impact on the
delay in filing the Responses was approximately a
month-and-a-half; however, as previously stated, the
Court's commitment to adjust scheduling deadlines will
allow the Court to ensure the delay will have a very limited
impact on the judicial proceedings. The impact, at this
point, is largely ...