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Griego v. Douglas

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

September 27, 2018

MICHAEL GRIEGO, Personal Representative of the Wrongful Death Estate of ALEC J. JARAMILLO, Deceased, ANDREW JARAMILLO and TERESA ROMO, Plaintiffs,
v.
LABERTA M. DOUGLAS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Russell E. Douglas, and STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JERRY H. RITTER U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Order Resetting Pre-Trial Deadlines and Expanding the Court's May 24, 2018 Order (Doc. 85), filed August 13, 2018. [Doc. 135]. Defendants have filed a Response and Plaintiffs elected not to file a Reply. [See Docs. 136, 139]. Having carefully considered the matter, the Court will grant Plaintiffs' Motion for the reasons set forth below.

         I) BACKGROUND

         This case arises from a car-on-motorcycle collision occurring September 13, 2014. On that date decedent Alec Jaramillo was struck by Russell Douglas, who allegedly failed to yield the right of way. Plaintiffs contend that Mr. Douglas caused the collision. Specifically, they argue that Mr. Douglas' vison-related deficits and health issues impaired his ability to safely operate a motor vehicle on the subject date. [See Doc. 135, pp. 1-2]. Defendants deny liability. They also deny that it was Mr. Douglas' vision that caused the subject collision. [See Doc. 136, p. 2');">p. 2 (“Mr. Douglas' medical records indicate that he could see well, but that he was having a problem seeing the notes in his church's hymnal book.”). Unfortunately, Mr. Douglas died during the early stages of this case. [See Doc. 11].

         Discovery closed on February 28, 2018, and discovery-related motions were due by March 7, 2018. Well before these deadlines, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Compel Defendants to execute a medical release for Mr. Douglas, among other things. [See Doc. 56]. Briefing was completed on February 8, 2018. [See Doc. 71]. On May 24, 2018, this Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel in part. [See Doc. 85]. Pertinent here, the Court found that

first, Mr. Douglas' medical history is relevant to Plaintiff's negligence claims under Rule 26(b)(1); second, Mr. Douglas' medical history is generally privileged and neither Defendant nor Mr. Douglas has waived the privilege merely by participating this lawsuit and denying fault; third, now that Mr. Douglas is deceased, Plaintiffs have the right to examine any records that bear upon their claim that his negligence caused the collision at issue.

[Id., p. 16]. Accordingly, the Court ordered Defendants to execute a medical release for Mr. Douglas “limited to ‘any medical conditions that could interfere with driving' and the quality of Mr. Douglas' vision at the time of the collision.” [Id.]. The Court further limited the release to one year preceding the collision. [Id., p. 17].

         Meanwhile, trial was set for July 23, 2018. [Doc. 68]. Defendants produced a release, as ordered, on June 25, 2018. “The following morning, June 26, 2018, Plaintiffs immediately commenced requesting Mr. Douglas' medical records.” [Doc. 105, p. 2');">p. 2]. And, on July 5, 2018, Plaintiffs moved to continue trial, citing prejudice if forced to proceed to trial without the ability to present evidence “regarding Mr. Douglas' ability to see properly.” [Id., p. 3]. Presiding magistrate judge Molzen granted Plaintiffs' Motion to Continue on July 11, 2018. [Doc. 122]. However, she reset it for January 28, 2019. [Doc. 133].

         Plaintiffs now move the Court to “issue an order expanding the time-frame Plaintiffs may seek Mr. Douglas' medical records, reopen discovery, [and] reset fact and expert witness disclosure deadlines[.]” [Doc. 135, p. 9]. In support, Plaintiffs cite evidence that Mr. Douglas had several impairments that could have affected his vision on the date in question. [See id., p. 3]. Defendants do not dispute that Mr. Douglas' medical records are relevant; instead, they argue prejudice, raise an evidentiary objection, and argue that Mr. Douglas' medical condition is privileged. [See Doc. 136, pp. 2');">p. 2-4].

         II) LEGAL STANDARD

         Whether or not to reopen discovery is within the sound discretion of the district court. Smith v. United States, 834 F.2d 166, 169 (10th Cir. 1987). The Tenth Circuit has identified six relevant factors to be considered when deciding whether to reopen discovery:

1) whether trial is imminent, 2) whether the request is opposed, 3) whether the non-moving party would be prejudiced, 4) whether the moving party was diligent in obtaining discovery within the guidelines established by the court, 5) the foreseeability of the need for additional discovery in light of the time allowed for discovery by the district court, and 6) the likelihood that the discovery will lead to relevant evidence.

Id.

         III) ...


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