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Civil Cases - Case Management Procedures

 
 

1. Case Management


Notice of the case management conference will be mailed approximately one week after the defendant(s) file a responsive pleading, with the conference held approximately four weeks thereafter.

Any attorney desiring to have a case management conference prior to the date set in the notice should contact the Courtroom Deputy.

The case management conference notice will indicate the tentative track designation.

As a general rule, the designation will depend on the apparent complexity of the case and how long it will likely to take to try.

Cases which appear to require two or three days for trial usually will be designated expedited, and will be set for trial within nine to twelve months after the case management conference.

Cases which appear to require a week to two weeks to try usually will be designated standard, and will be set for trial within twelve to eighteen months after the case management conference.

Cases likely to take more than two weeks for trial will be designated complex, and will usually be set for trial within eighteen to twenty-four months of the case management conference.

Where a savings of time is likely to result, trial on liability may be bifurcated from trial on damages.

Counsel in multi-issue or otherwise complex cases should discuss prior to the case management conference whether a separate, and more prompt, trial of a one or a small number of critical issues would be more appropriate than a single trial of all issues.

The limitations on the extent of discovery in expedited and standard track cases usually need not be followed, and counsel may take the discovery that they reasonably believe is necessary to prepare for trial. If a dispute about the extent or scope of discovery arises, it is to be called to the court's attention promptly pursuant to Local Civ. R. 37.1.

Prior to the case management conference, counsel should confer about the case and comply informally with Local Civ. R.16.3(b)(3), especially with regard to possible settlement, Rule 26 disclosures, and the extent and timing of discovery.

Case management conferences usually are held on Mondays, as are status and other pretrial conferences, and usually are scheduled to last a half hour. If more time will be needed to address all issues likely to arise at the case management conference, counsel should notify the Courtroom Deputy promptly of such need.

Unless otherwise notified to the contrary in the case management conference notice, it is not necessary for out of town counsel (i.e., counsel whose offices are outside of Lucas County) or the parties to attend the case management conference in person, though lead counsel in the case is to participate (whether in person or by telephone) unless excused prior to the conference. Unless the Courtroom Deputy is otherwise informed, counsel participating by telephone will be called at their office number as shown on the docket sheet.

If any party wishes to have counsel or the parties attend the case management conference in person, notify opposing counsel of that request; if there is a disagreement, contact chambers.

Counsel wishing to raise at the case management conference specific matters that are not usually raised at an initial pretrial conference should notify chambers and opposing counsel of such desire prior to the case management conference.

The case management conference may not be held if a motion to dismiss is pending. In lieu of a case management conference, an order may issue scheduling the time for opposition and reply, and holding further scheduling in abeyance pending adjudication of the motion to dismiss.

Prior to the case management conference counsel are permitted, and, indeed, encouraged, to begin discovery, to the extent that they can do so by agreement.

At the case management conference a schedule for all significant events in the case, including a firm trial date, will be set.  Case Management Order

In cases in which summary judgment practice is likely to involve Daubert issues, briefing, hearing on and resolution of those issues should occur prior to the briefing on the summary judgment motion(s).

Counsel should be ready to discuss possible settlement of the case at the case management conference.

Not infrequently, cases are set for an initial settlement conference prior to the commencement of extensive discovery.

Frequently two discovery deadlines are set: one for completion of discovery relating to summary judgment or other motions, and the other for the completion of all other discovery.

 

2. Pro Hac Vice Status


Absent objection from opposing counsel, requests for admission pro hac vice may be made orally at the case management conference; no written motion, etc., is usually required.

Counsel admitted pro hac vice should review the Local Rules, especially the Local Civ. R. 26.1, 26.2 and 37.1, relating to discovery and discovery disputes.

As a convenience to the court and counsel, lawyers appearing pro hac vice normally should engage local co-counsel who should file an appearance so that copies of orders and opinions will be received by local counsel. When counsel appearing pro hac vice engages local counsel, the local attorney should be kept informed of principal developments in the case, and copied with substantive correspondence with the client and between counsel for the parties, and with notices and motions. In addition, local counsel should be consulted with regard to practices and procedures regarding discovery, motions, settlement and trial.

Local counsel is expected, at a minimum, to refer out-of-town counsel to the Local Rules and this website. It is particularly important that local counsel call attention to this court's practices concerning discovery disputes and expectations concerning the conduct of discovery generally and depositions in particular.

 

3. Electronic Filing


All pleadings and briefs are to be filed electronically. Pleadings and briefs (except those in removed cases originally filed in a state court) are not to be scanned; instead, they are to be filed as pdf searchable (i.e., thereby enabling downloading, searching, copying and pasting by the court from CM/ECF).

Exhibits exceeding fifteen pages can be filed manually, rather than being scanned in to the system.

Additional information regarding electronic filing can be obtained by calling the courtroom deputy.

Failure to be prepared to file and receive pleadings electronically shall not be accepted as good cause for the failure to respond to any pleading, notice or order filed electronically.

Electronic filing requirements normally do not apply where a party is proceeding pro se. Pro se litigants may, however, obtain leave of court to file and receive filings electronically.

 

4. Consent to Trial or Other Final Disposition Before the United States Magistrate Judge


Counsel are encouraged to consider consenting to trial before the United States Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judge has authority to try jury cases. The Magistrate Judges have considerable jury trial experience as attorneys and Judges.

In cases to be decided on motion or cross-motions for summary judgment, counsel likewise are encouraged to consent to final disposition by the Magistrate Judge. This is especially so where counsel anticipate that final resolution of the case will occur only on appeal.

If counsel have agreed to consent to trial before the Magistrate Judge before the case management conference, the court should be notified so that the case management conference can occur before the Magistrate Judge.

 

5. Discovery and Discovery Disputes


The provisions of the Local Civil Rules to the contrary notwithstanding, limits are not imposed at the outset on the kind and extent of discovery, provided such scope and extent are reasonable.

Pursuant to Local Civ. R. 37.1, no motion for a protective order or to compel is to be filed until the parties have: 1) sought in good faith to resolve the matter, and 2) contacted the court promptly to seek informal resolution of the dispute. The notice to the court should include a brief statement of the nature of the dispute.

All requests for informal resolution of discovery disputes will be handled as promptly as possible –  often immediately after counsel notify the court of the dispute, and always, except in highly unusual circumstances, within twenty-four hours.

In the unusual circumstance in which the matter requires further consideration (i.e., because it involves privilege), a briefing schedule will be set.

This does not mean that the court desires to monitor every little squabble – counsel are expected to work together cooperatively and reasonably to expedite discovery. If delays in responding to discovery requests, scheduling discovery, etc., arise, counsel should, however, contact the court promptly for assistance.

 

6. Conduct of Discovery Generally and at Despositions in Particular


Behavior that would not occur in open court before a judge and jury shall not take place during discovery.

Depositions are to be conducted with the same decorum as if they were occurring in the presence of the court. Local Cir. R. 30.1. Failure to comply with this requirement will lead to sanctions. See Carr, Depositions and the Court, 32 Tort & Ins. L.J.635 (1997).

If an objection is to be made at a deposition, it shall be made as briefly as possible to communicate the nature of the problem ("form" "leading" "irrelevant" "immaterial" "no foundation," “hearsay,” etc.) or by citation to the appropriate evidentiary rule or doctrine. Speaking objections, and objections or statements intended merely to disrupt or distract opposing counsel are not to be made. If they are, sanctions may be imposed.

Badgering or arguing with the witness and ad hominem attacks on counsel or others are not permitted.

Depositions are not to be terminated because a dispute has arisen. Contact the court for resolution; if a judicial officer is not available to resolve the dispute, continue the deposition, leaving the disputed issue or question for later resolution.

 

7. Discovery re. Experts; Daubert Hearings


Any party having the burden of proof as to an issue as to which that party intends to call an expert shall provide an expert's report to opposing counsel not later than two weeks prior to the expert's deposition; if the opposing party intends to present an expert as to such issue, it shall provide its expert's report promptly following the first expert's deposition, and, in any event, not later than two weeks prior to producing that expert for deposition.

 

 Note: treating physicians are deemed to be fact witnesses, rather than expert witnesses for purposes of compensation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1821. See Fischer v. Ford Motor Company, 178 F.R.D. 195, 197 (N.D. Ohio 1998) (fact witnesses entitled to maximum daily compensation of $40). This does not invariably mean that a treating physician may not be compensated for the fair value of his services (i.e., the amount the physician would receive for treating a patient). Treating physicians shall not, however, receive unreasonably excessive compensation; if a treating physician is demanding unreasonable compensation for a deposition, contact the court for assistance in imposing a limit on the fee which the physician shall be permitted to obtain.

 

Plaintiff's counsel shall provide full medical records not later than two weeks prior to the deposition of a treating physician. If counsel encounter excessive delays on the part of providers in responding to requests for medical records, contact the court for assistance in expediting production.

Counsel are to complete all discovery re. experts in ample time to assure compliance with the timetable for motions and trial.

If a Daubert hearing is necessary, please inform the court as soon as such need becomes apparent, so that such hearing can, if possible, be conducted prior to summary judgment practice or trial.

 

8. Motions and Motion Practice


When seeking a temporary restraining order, plaintiff's counsel is to make all reasonable efforts to learn the identity of and give at least informal notice to counsel for the defendant. Normally (i.e., except in cases of true emergency) applications for temporary restraining orders are considered only after the other side has had a chance to obtain and consult with counsel.

Although briefs normally should comply with the page limitations set forth in the Local Civ. Rules, it is not necessary to obtain prior leave before filing a brief whose length exceeds such limitations.

Unless the brief is quite short, a table of cases and other authorities should be included.

Motions for summary judgment generally will be due not later than three months prior to the trial date. The response time usually will be three to four weeks for the opposition and ten days to two weeks for the reply.



          Note: the decisional date (i.e., date on which the final brief is received) for motions will usually be either the first or fifteenth of the month.

 

Note: the practice of using reply briefs to raise and argue issues and cite cases that properly should have been raised in the original brief is strongly disfavored. If such occurs, such issues and cases may be disregarded or leave may be granted to opposing counsel to file a surreply, if time permits.

 

If counsel does not intend to file a reply, please notify the Courtroom Deputy.

Courtesy copies of briefs need not be provided to the court.

If counsel anticipate that a hearing is required (i.e., where personal jurisdiction Daubert is at issue, etc.), the court should be notified of that need as soon as possible, and preferably at the case management conference.

Oral argument on routine motions is not usually held. Where the case presents unusual or multiple issues, the parties may request to be heard orally.

Every effort is made to decide motions within six weeks after they have become decisional. If a motion has not been ruled on after it has been decisional for more than two months, counsel are encouraged to notify the Courtroom Deputy of that situation. If significant additional delay in deciding the motion is anticipated, the court will attempt to advise counsel of the likely length of such delay.

If an expedited ruling is desired, notify the Courtroom Deputy of that desire.

If the parties are engaged in settlement negotiations while a motion is pending, notify the Courtroom Deputy; if settlement does not occur, inform the Deputy that a ruling is necessary.

 

9. Motions to Reconsider


Motions to reconsider are strongly disfavored. Counsel are advised that in the event a motion to reconsider is found to have been filed improperly, sanctions will be imposed under Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 to compensate the opposing party or parties for the amounts expended by them in responding to such motion.

To avoid protracted litigation re. such sanctions, the standard practice is to impose $2,000 as and for compensation for the opposing party where the motion for reconsideration has been denied.

Only file a motion to reconsider if an issue that clearly was presented in the original motion and is material to disposition of the motion was overlooked entirely, clearly controlling authority was disregarded, or an intervening decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, Sixth Circuit, or United States Supreme Court mandates a different outcome.

Filing motions “to clarify” or otherwise designated to avoid this court’s distaste for motions for reconsideration is not welcome.

 

10. Certification to the Ohio Supreme Court


Pursuant to Ohio Supreme Court Rule of Practice XVIII, a federal court may certify unsettled questions of state law to the Ohio Supreme Court. Counsel in diversity cases and cases involving claims under the Ohio Constitution or statutes are encouraged to consider requesting certification of unsettled questions of state law. Such request should be made, whenever possible, at the case management conference.

 

11. Status conferences and reports


As a general practice, the mid-point status conference, which is to be held per local rule (and at which a trial date is to be set) is not held. Instead, the trial date is set at the case management conference.

Not infrequently, counsel will be directed to file periodic status reports, particularly where they have indicated settlement discussions are on-going, an issue is on appeal, a bankruptcy stay has been entered, or other reason exists for keeping the court informed about the status and progress of the case.

 

12. Settlement conferences/Final Pretrial


As a general rule, settlement conferences and mediations, etc. will occur before the United States Magistrate Judge assigned to the case.

Frequently initial settlement conferences, usually with the concurrence of counsel, will be set after limited discovery.

Final settlement conferences will be set in almost every case about two to four weeks prior to the trial date. If the case is not resolved at that conference, matters covered during a final pretrial will be discussed and, if necessary, resolved then, without the need for a further final pretrial.

Lead trial counsel is to attend all settlement conferences in person, as are the parties or their representatives with full authority to settle the case.

One week prior to the settlement conference, counsel are to have emailed (JudgeCarr_Chambers@ohnd.uscourts.gov) or faxed (419 213 5563) an ex parte narrative statement discussing the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the opponent's case. The amount acceptable to settle shall be stated, with a brief explanation in support of that figure. As a general rule, the ex parte narrative settlement statement should not exceed a few pages; exhibits, photos, etc., should rarely, if ever, be attached. The purpose of the ex parte narrative is simply to provide enough understanding of the case and insight into the parties' positions to enable useful judicial participation during the settlement conference.

Where settlement in principle is reached, but the final terms and conditions remain subject to further specification, the parties will be asked to agree to submit any problems regarding remaining terms and conditions of settlement to the court for binding determination. The purpose of this practice is to prevent later motions to enforce settlement or other disputes about the terms and conditions of settlement.

If the case is settled, counsel will be ordered to file a dismissal entry within a month after the settlement conference.

 

13. Mediation, ADR, Etc.


While efforts to engage in the various forms of alternative dispute resolution described in the local rules are encouraged, such efforts should not cause delay in the trial. Counsel wanting to pursue ADR should, accordingly, make that desire known promptly.

In lieu of formal ADR, counsel may want to consider asking that the case be referred to settlement/mediation to another District Judge or the United States Magistrate Judge.