Imagine that! Judge Walker’s law clerk read Rossmiller’s blog to “keep up with the McIntosh case”!
Since there were blog-reading clerks “working” in the northern district Mississippi federal court when USA v Scruggs, Scruggs and Backstrom was before Judge Biggers, I certainly wasn’t surprised to learn the same was happening here . The difference between the two courts is that Chief Judge Mills “blew the whistle” but no judge in the southern district had toot to say about it.
I happened upon that revealing bit of information the old-fashioned way – reading case documents from the docket of the Rigsby qui tam case – because Over the wire or under the wig – ex parte is ex parte (Part 1, 2 and 3) and Katrina’s surge fueled the quest for money at the expense of ethics: Earwigging and Blawgs.
Other than that single revelation, the post-discovery motions filed by State Farm have been “much ado about nothing” of significance to the merits of the Righby’s allegation of State Farm’s fraudulent claims handling. Judge Walker issued an Order denying State Farm’s Motion to Compel Computers:
Ultimately, the Court finds that the motion to compel should be denied because State Farm has failed to give a sufficient justification for going behind the discovery process and for disregarding counsel for Realtors’ sworn representations that all responsive documents from the computers have been produced. Before taking the additional and extraordinary steps requested by State Farm, the Court requires something more than the unsubstantiated suspicion that there may be additional discoverable information contained on the computers.
Walker’s second Order, issued in response to State Farm’s 100-pound Motion for Limited Amendment to the Case Management Order, denied State Farm’s request to yet again depose the Rigsby sisters:
Rule 30(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party must obtain leave of court to depose a party who has already been deposed in the case. Leave of court is conditioned on the necessity of the deposition in light of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2), which provides, in part:
(C) The frequency or extent of use of the discovery methods otherwise permitted under these rules and by any local rule shall be limited by the court if it determines that:
(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity by discovery in the action to obtain the information sought; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, taking into account the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the litigation, and the importance of the proposed discovery in resolving the issues.
The Court will not grant leave for State Farm to re-depose the Rigsbys. State Farm has failed to demonstrate sufficient justification for the resumption of their deposition. Although State Farm may acquire additional discoverable and relevant documents from TRG and SLF, this by itself does not demonstrate cause for resuming the Rigsbys’ deposition. The Rigsbys’ relationship with the Scruggs firm and the Katrina Litigation Group has been the subject of considerable discovery and numerous depositions. The Rigsbys themselves have been deposed on these topics. The Court finds that additional deposition testimony would be unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. To the extent allowed by the trial judge, State Farm is not precluded from questioning the Rigsbys at trial regarding newly obtained documents, thus diminishing any prejudice from not allowing the post-discovery deadline resumption of the Rigsbys’ deposition.
The Relators had earlier consented to a later deadline (August 16) for the limited purpose of the “deposition and document production of The Rendon Group (TRG)” but had objected to a “follow-up 30(b)(6) deposition of SLF, Inc.” Since the two parties were in agreement on these two matters, Walker had already stated he would grant those requests. However, in addition to denying State Farm’s request to continue deposing the Rigsby sisters, Walker granted State Farm’s requested follow-up deposition of SLF:
At this late stage of the litigation, the Court has attempted to balance the interests of allowing the parties sufficient discovery with the interests of maintaining the December 1, 2010, trial date. Accordingly, the Court has permitted some limited out-of-time discovery, including allowing the Relators to conduct a 30(b)(6) deposition of State Farm beyond the discovery deadline.
The earlier reference to the State Farm motion weighing 100 pounds was, of course, figurative; but, State Farm’s Motion and Rebuttal totaled over 1000 pages! The Relators’ Response , on the other hand, was a mere 10 pages.