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Derrick v. Standard Nutrition Company

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

October 31, 2018

RONNY DERRICK and ANGIE DERRICK, Plaintiffs,
v.
STANDARD NUTRITION COMPANY, JOHN DOES 1-5, and XYZ CORPORATE OR BUSINESS ENTITIES 1-5, Defendants, and STANDARD NUTRITION COMPANY, Counterclaimant,
v.
RONNY DERRICK and ANGIE DERRICK, Counter-defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR EXTENSION [DOC. 55] AND PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO AMEND THE SCHEDULING ORDER [DOC. 65]

          STEPHAN M. VIDMAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on two motions. The first is Plaintiffs' Motion for Extension Re: Expert Reports [Doc. 55], filed on August 31, 2018. Defendant Standard Nutrition Company responded on September 14, 2018. [Doc. 56]. Plaintiffs replied on September 21, 2018. [Doc. 57]. Oral argument was held on October 19, 2018. [Doc. 64] (Clerk's Minutes for Oral Argument). The second motion is Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order, filed on October 22, 2018. [Doc. 65]. Defendant has not filed a response, and none is needed. The Court has considered the briefing, the oral argument, the relevant portions of the record, and the relevant law. Being otherwise fully advised in the premises, the Court will deny both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs breed rodeo and ranch horses in New Mexico. [Doc. 1-1] at 1, 3. Defendant Standard Nutrition (hereinafter “Defendant”) delivered feed for the horses on December 8, 2016. Id. at 5. Shortly thereafter, some of Plaintiffs' horses fell ill. Id. at 5-6. By December 10, 2016, two horses had died. Id. Plaintiffs retained counsel a few days later. Id. at 19. Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendant nearly a year later, on November 2, 2017. Id. at 7-14. Plaintiffs allege that the feed was contaminated with monensin, an antibiotic, and that the monensin poisoned Plaintiffs' horses. Id. at 3-4, 6.

         The Answer was filed on December 27, 2017. [Doc. 5]. Defendant denied that its feed caused the horses' injuries. [Doc. 5] at 2. Defendant denied causation again in the Joint Status Report filed on March 9, 2018. [Doc. 17] at 2.

         The Court held a status conference on January 29, 2018, before entering the Initial Scheduling Order. The Court specifically told the parties that the purpose for the status conference was to avoid opposed motions to extend the discovery deadlines late in the discovery process. [Doc. 8] at 2 (Clerk's Minutes for Telephonic Status Conference). The Court explained that the party moving to amend a scheduling order must show good cause, and that the most important factor in determining good cause is the moving party's diligence. Id. In other words, was the moving party unable to complete discovery within the time allowed, despite diligent efforts to do so?

         The parties filed their Joint Status Report and Provisional Discovery Plan [Doc. 17] on March 9, 2018. Plaintiffs listed the following potential trial experts:

1. Appraiser Jeff Ellis, see above
2. A veterinary expert and/or treating veterinarian Ronald Box, DVM, see above
3. The person or persons who read/interpreted the testing results on the subject feed and/or 30(b)(6) designee(s) of the testing center(s)
4. An expert with respect to the effects of monensin on livestock and the standard of care with respect [to] monensin in horse feed
5. An expert with respect to the standards of care applicable to the manufacture, storage shipping and delivery of the subject feed, including but not limited to “carryover”, maintenance and cleaning of equipment and facilities, ingredients used in the mill where horse feed is made[.]

[Doc. 17] at 5.

         The Court held a Rule 16 Scheduling Conference on April 2, 2018. At the beginning of that conference, Plaintiffs' counsel advised the Court that he had not yet completed his initial disclosures. [Doc. 19] (Clerk's Minutes for First Telephonic Rule 16 Scheduling Conference). The Court terminated the conference and rescheduled a second Rule 16 Scheduling Conference for May 1, 2018. At that conference the Court set Plaintiffs' expert disclosure deadline for August 29, 2018. [Doc. 25] at 2. The Court asked Plaintiffs' counsel if he had any objection to that deadline, and counsel had none. Recording of Rule 16 Scheduling Conference, May 1, 2018, Liberty-Picacho Courtroom, at 8:47. The Court spoke at length regarding the parties' obligations regarding disclosure of expert witnesses. The ...


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