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Williams-Evans v. Advance Auto Parts

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

June 7, 2019

CASANDRA WILLIAMS-EVANS, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS, Defendant.

          ORDER

          J. RANDAL HALL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Before the Court are two motions from Defendant (Docs. 17, 31) and one motion from Plaintiff (Doc. 27) . First, Defendant moves to strike Plaintiff's "Reply from Defendant's Answer to Plaintiff['s] First Amended Complaint" (Doc. 16). Second, Defendant moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) to extend the response deadline to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment so Defendant can conduct additional discovery. Finally, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Submit Evidence and Summary into the Record. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motions are both GRANTED, and Plaintiff's motion is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed this employment discrimination case alleging Defendant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended ("ADA"), during Plaintiff's time as a sales representative at Advance Auto Parts. (See generally Am. Compl., Doc. 7.) Defendant waived service and filed its Answer to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on November 26, 2018. (Doc. 13.) In response to Defendant's Answer, Plaintiff filed a "Reply" containing numerous factual and legal arguments. (See Doc. 16.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings. (Doc. 19.) On May 7, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Submit Evidence and Summary into the Record seeking to admit medical records, emails, and text messages relevant to her case. (Doc. 27.) Most recently, on May 21st, Plaintiff moved for summary judgment. (Doc. 28.)

         The case is currently in the midst of discovery, which is scheduled to end on July 8, 2019. (Order of Mar. 12, 2019, Doc. 2 6.) Defendant contends that it still needs to conduct a substantial amount of discovery, including deposing Plaintiff, serving third-party subpoenas on Plaintiff s health care providers, obtaining declarations or affidavits from named witnesses, resolving two discovery disputes with Plaintiff, and obtaining additional documents from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") . (Decl. of Wm. Robert Gignilliat, IV ("Gignilliat Decl."), Doc. 34-1, ¶ 13.) Accordingly, Defendant requests the Court extend its deadline to respond to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment until after discovery closes.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Defendant's Motion to Strike

         Defendant moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) to strike Plaintiff's "Reply" to Defendant's Answer. (Doc. 17.) Plaintiff filed a response indicating she does not oppose the motion to strike. (Doc. 18.)

         Defendant's Answer did not contain any counterclaims against Plaintiff that might have required a response, nor did the Court order Plaintiff to file a reply to the Answer. Accordingly, Plaintiff's "Reply" to Defendant's Answer is improper. See 5 Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1185 at 27 (3d ed. 2004) ("Absent a counterclaim denominated as such, a reply to an answer ordinarily is unnecessary and improper in federal practice.") Plaintiff's "Reply from Defendant's Answer to Plaintiff['s] First Amended Complaint" (Doc. 16) shall be struck from the record.

         B. Defendant's Motion for Extension

         The Court next turns to Defendant's motion under Rule 56(d) to extend the deadline for it to respond to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and for the Court to defer ruling on the motion until discovery is completed. (Doc. 31.)

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) provides: "If a nonmovant shows by affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may (1) defer considering the motion or deny it; (2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue any other appropriate order." In the Eleventh Circuit, "the party opposing a motion for summary judgment should be permitted an adequate opportunity to complete discovery prior to consideration of the motion." Jones v. City of Columbus, Ga., 120 F.3d 248, 253 (11th Cir. 1997). Similarly, "[s]ummary judgment is premature when a party is not provided a reasonable opportunity to discover information essential to his opposition." Smith v. Fla. Dep't of Corr., 713 F.3d 1059, 1064 (11th Cir. 2013) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 n.5 (1986)).

         When invoking Rule 56(d) a party "may not simply rely on vague assertions that additional discovery will produce needed, but unspecified facts," rather the party must specifically demonstrate how delaying a ruling on the motion will enable it to rebut the movant's showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. Reflectone, Inc. v. Farrand Optical Co., 862 F.2d 841, 843-44 (11th Cir. 1989) (internal quotations omitted).

         Defendant intends to conduct a substantial amount of discovery before the July 8th deadline, all of which it contends will be relevant to the issues presented in Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (Gignilliat Decl., ¶¶ 13-14.) First, Defendant believes Plaintiff is improperly withholding discoverable documents because Plaintiff only produced eighteen documents during discovery but submitted sixty-four documents in her Motion to Submit Evidence. Defendant is prepared to file a motion to compel these documents if Plaintiff does not produce them. Second, Defendant has not been able to depose Plaintiff. This may also require Defendant to file a motion to compel based on its communications with Plaintiff regarding scheduling a deposition. Third, Defendant intends to serve third-party subpoenas on Plaintiff's ...


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