United States District Court, D. Idaho
SALLY ASHBY, an individual, and HOWARD FOWLER, an individual, Plaintiffs,
GERALD MORTIMER, M.D., and OBTESTRICS AND GYNECOLOGY ASSOCIATES OF IDAHO FALLS, P.A., an Idaho professional corporation, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. Nye Chief U.S. District Court Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Extend Time for
Responses to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.
Dkt. 54. Having reviewed the parties' briefs and the
record, the Court finds good cause to GRANT an extension.
April 5, 2019, Defendant Gerald Mortimer (“Dr.
Mortimer”) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt.
49. On April 8, 2019, Defendant Obstetrics and Gynecology
Associates of Idaho Falls, PA (“OGA”) also filed
a Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 50. Plaintiffs'
respective response deadlines for the Motions for Summary
Judgment are April 26 and April 29, 2019. On April 19, 2019,
Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Extension of Time to File
Responses to Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment.
Dkt. 54. Plaintiffs seek to extend their time to respond to
both motions to May 20, 2019. Only Dr. Mortimer opposes
Plaintiffs' extension request, as OGA has not responded
within the time for doing so set by the Court.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(A), a party may
seek an extension of time to submit a responsive pleading if
good cause exists, so long as the request is submitted prior
to the expiration of the original time. Plaintiffs note they
have submitted their extension request prior to the deadline
for their Responses to Defendants' Motions for Summary
Judgment, and suggest good cause exists because both summary
judgment motions “present several different theories
for dismissal, and Mortimer's motion relies heavily on
case law from multiple states throughout the United States.
Additional time is needed to properly and adequately respond
to these lengthy dispositive motions which were filed only
days apart.” Dkt. 55, at 2. Plaintiffs also maintain
Defendants will not suffer prejudice from the extension of
Plaintiffs' deadline to respond because the deadline for
dispositive motions in this matter is approximately three
months away. Id. Finally, Plaintiffs contend that
they requested that Dr. Mortimer's counsel stipulate to
the extension, but Dr. Mortimer's counsel did not
Mortimer objects to Plaintiffs' extension request on
several grounds. First, Dr. Mortimer suggests a determination
of good cause is essentially an analysis of the moving
party's diligence. Dkt. 58, at 3 (citing Hammer v.
City of Sun Valley, 2018 WL 3973400 *4 (D. Idaho Aug.
20, 2018); Buckley v. Donohue Industries, Inc., 100
Fed.Appx. 275, 278 (5th Cir. 2004)). Dr. Mortimer argues
Plaintiffs have not been diligent in requesting an extension
because they waited until a week before their responses were
due to do so, instead of immediately moving for an extension
approximately two weeks ago when the summary judgment motions
were filed. Extensions “always may be asked for, and
usually are granted upon a showing of good cause, if timely
made.” Creedon v. Taubman, 8 F.R.D. 268, 269
(N.D. Ohio 1947); see also Choi v. Chemical Bank,
939 F.Supp. 304, 309 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (district court has wide
discretion to grant enlargement of time, with or without
motion, if request is made within expiration period).
Although Plaintiffs certainly could have sought an extension
earlier in the briefing period, the Court finds they were
reasonably diligent in submitting a timely request for an
extension well before their response deadline.
Dr. Mortimer contends the focus of the Court's inquiry
should be on Plaintiffs' stated reasons for an extension.
Id. Dr. Mortimer argues “the need to oppose
the two motions over a twenty-four (24) day period cannot
amount to good cause, as such time constraints are inherent
in the legal profession[.]” Id., at 4. The
Court agrees the fact that Plaintiffs must respond to two
motions for summary judgment filed days apart is hardly
unique, inherent in litigation, and may not rise to the level
of good cause. What is unique, however, is the factual
background of this dispute and Defendants' basis for
seeking summary judgment. Specifically, Dr. Mortimer argues
Plaintiffs' medical malpractice claim is essentially a
claim for “wrongful pregnancy.” Although the
Idaho Supreme Court has recognized such cause of action is
valid in Idaho pursuant to Idaho Code § 5-334(2), Idaho
courts have never directly addressed the elements of such
claim. Dkt. 49-1, at 5 (citing Conner v. Hodges, 333
P.3d 130, 134 (2014)). Dr. Mortimer accordingly relies on
multiple cases from state courts throughout the Country to
argue Plaintiffs cannot establish the prima facie elements of
a wrongful pregnancy claim. The Court finds good cause to
grant an extension given the novel circumstances of this case
and Dr. Mortimer's reliance on multiple out of state
cases to suggest summary dismissal of Plaintiffs' claim
Dr. Mortimer does not indicate that there is any danger of
prejudice to him if the motion for extension is granted. Dr.
Mortimer's reply deadline will be extended by virtue of
Plaintiffs' delayed filing. Further, as Plaintiffs note,
the deadline for dispositive motions in this case is not for
three months. The Court finds allowing Plaintiffs a short
extension to respond to Defendants' Motions for Summary
Judgment is appropriate where such extension will not
prejudice Dr. Mortimer or in any way delay the disposition of
this case. See, e.g., Delta Alcohol Distrib. v.
Anheuser-Busch Intern., Inc., 28 F.Supp.3d 682, 687
(E.D. Mich. 2014) (extension warranted even in absence of
good cause where there was no danger of prejudice to
defendants if motion for extension was granted).
Dr. Mortimer notes Plaintiffs filed their own substantial
motion during the relevant briefing period. Specifically,
Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Amend the Complaint to Assert
Punitive Damages on April 10, 2019. Dkt. 53. Dr. Mortimer
suggests it would be contrary to the purpose of Rule 6 to
allow Plaintiffs to file their own substantial motion while
simultaneously seeking reprieve in responding to another.
Dkt. 55, at 4 (citing Block v. Washington State Bar
Assoc., 2019 WL 5177152 at *2 (9th Cir. 2019)). In
Block, the Ninth Circuit held the district court did
not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's requests
for extensions of time where plaintiff did not seek
extensions in advance of the time her oppositions were due
and filed multiple motions of her own during the period in
which she claimed she was unable to file oppositions.
Id. Such circumstances are distinguishable from
those here, where Plaintiffs have sought an extension prior
to the due date for their responses and have filed a single
motion of their own during the briefing period. While
Plaintiffs' counsel could have used their time more
wisely by focusing on their responses before filing their own
motion, such motion does not warrant denial of
Plaintiffs' extension request.
Dr. Mortimer argues Plaintiffs' request is procedurally
deficient because it fails to comply with Local Rule 6.1(a)
which requires that a party requesting an extension
“must apprise the Court if they have previously been
granted any time extensions in this particular action.”
District of Idaho Local Rule 6.1(a). Dr. Mortimer notes
Plaintiffs were previously given an extension to file their
opposition to his Motion to Dismiss, but failed to apprise
the Court of such extension in the instant motion. The Court
is well aware of Plaintiffs' previous request for an
extension, having granted such request, despite
Plaintiffs' failure to mention such in their Motion for
Extension of Time. Although Plaintiffs have not complied with
the procedure outlined in Local Rule 6.1(a), the rule does
not suggest any penalty for failure to comply, and the Court
finds it is within its discretion to grant an extension even
though Plaintiffs' request may be procedurally deficient.
Whitehead By and Through Whitehead v. School Bd. for
Hillsborough Cnty., 932 F.Supp. 1396, 1399 (M.D. Fla.
1996) (although plaintiff's opposition to motion to
dismiss was three weeks late, court would exercise its
discretion to consider opposition due to the strong policy of
resolving issues on the merits, rather than on procedural
Dr. Mortimer's counsel suggests that although Plaintiffs
did request that they stipulate to an extension, Plaintiffs
filed the present motion only a few hours later, on a Friday
afternoon before a holiday weekend, without providing Dr.
Mortimer's counsel an opportunity to respond. Dkt. 58, at
5. While criticizing Plaintiffs' counsel for not filing
the Motion for Extension earlier, defense counsel
simultaneously faults Plaintiffs' counsel for filing the
Motion for Extension too soon after their attempt to obtain
defense counsel's stipulation to an extension. If
Plaintiffs' counsel had instead waited for a response and
filed the Motion for Extension closer to the opposition
deadline, defense counsel would undoubtedly criticize such
delay as a failure to act diligently.
the Court does not believe there is enough good cause for the
four-week extension Plaintiffs' request, the Court does
find a two-week extension is warranted given the unique
circumstances of Plaintiffs' medical malpractice claim,
the lack of Idaho case law on the subject, Plaintiffs'
timely request for an extension, and in the absence of any
prejudice to Dr. Mortimer.