Staying up late reading Gresham’s latest legal thriller is probably not something I should do the night before a day I’ve set aside to write for SLABBED. On the other hand, who could know what’s up on the 19th of November and not wonder what’s up when none – nada, not a single one – of the Branch defendants was able to schedule an ESI deposition until December.
A quick review of what went up on SLABBED in October explains a lot. You’ll find a discussion of Allstate’s ESI capacity here; an update on the Branch case here; and an update on the Denenea case here.
The 19th of November is D-day and what’s up then are the hearings Judge Vance will conduct on more motions than I can count – some to dismiss individual defendants, others the entire the Branch qui tam case. The Allstate and Pilot motions to dismiss the Denena qui tam case are also scheduled for a hearing on the 19th.
“Conspiracy” can be defined an act that is innocent in itself but becomes unlawful when done by the combination of actors and “obstruction of justice” as one that involves interference, through words or actions, with the proper operations of a court or officers of the court.
So, when every single defendant insurer selects a date to give ESI depositions two or more weeks following hearings that could result in the dismissal of certain defendants or the entire case, have they conspired to interfere with the operation or officers of the court, given that “Federal courts have read…[18 U.S.C.A. §§ 1503]…expansively to proscribe any conduct that interferes with the judicial process”?
The Case Management Order provided a 40-day period for Branch counsel to take the ESI depositions of the nine defendants:
By Friday, October 29, 2010, and after consultation with the defendants, Branch shall provide the court with a schedule showing the date, time and place for the ESI depositions of each defendant. The Allstate and Pilot ESI depositions shall be scheduled nearer to the end of the schedule. These depositions shall be completed by Friday, December 10, 2010.
The defendants limited the Schedule to a 7-day period for Branch to take nine (9) ESI depositions in eight (8) different locations:
Could just be the witch hat I’m wearing on Halloween; however, if I were Judge Vance, I would insist on a schedule for ESI deposition that would allow for a two-day deposition with sufficient travel time in between for the same team of attorneys to take each of the nine depositions.
Of course, I’m not Judge Vance and obviously not an attorney either – but that doesn’t mean I don’t know a wool-over-the-court’s-eye scheme when I see one.