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In re C. R. Bard, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

September 15, 2017

IN RE C. R. BARD, INC., PELVIC REPAIR SYSTEM PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION
v.
C. R. Bard, Inc. Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-30640 THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO Smith, et al.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the court is the defendant, C.R. Bard, Inc.'s, Motion to Strike and Request for Emergency Hearing. [ECF No. 37]. In this motion, the defendant asks the court to: (1) strike Dr. Ostergard's supplemental reports, (2) hold Dr. Ostergard's deposition in abeyance, and (3) hold an emergency hearing on the matter. [ECF No. 37]. The plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Response, [ECF No. 39] and the defendants filed a Reply. [ECF No. 40]. For the reasons detailed below, the defendant's motion is DENIED.

         II. Background

         The defendant filed identical motions in 14 individual cases in this MDL. All plaintiffs at issue are in Wave 4 and Wave 5. Pursuant to Pretrial Order # 236, Wave 4 plaintiffs were required to disclose their experts by May 12, 2017. Pursuant to Pretrial Order # 244, Wave 5 plaintiffs were required to disclose their experts by June 12, 2017. The plaintiffs disclosed urogynecologist Donald Ostergard, M.D., as both a general causation expert and as a case-specific expert before the dates required. They also timely served Dr. Ostergard's reports disclosing his opinions and the bases thereof. Dr. Ostergard's deposition was originally scheduled to occur from July 26-28, 2017. The deposition was rescheduled for Aug. 29-31, 2017, and then later re-scheduled again for August 29-31, 2017 to accommodate a health issue Dr. Ostergard was experiencing.

         On Thursday, August 24, 2017, five days before Dr. Ostergard's deposition was scheduled to take place, plaintiffs' counsel informed defense counsel that Dr. Ostergard was preparing a supplemental report which would be sent over later in the day. A few hours later, plaintiffs' counsel served fourteen supplemental reports to defense counsel. The supplemental reports were substantially similar to the original reports served, but had additional information including: (1) new depositions that Dr. Ostergard was relying on and summaries of the deposition information he was relying on; (2) additional facts regarding plaintiffs' symptoms and treatment; and (3) additional opinions regarding causation. After the plaintiffs' counsel sent the supplemental reports to the defendant, but before the defendant filed this motion, plaintiffs' counsel and defense counsel agreed to move Dr. Ostergard's deposition to October 20-22, 2017 to give defense counsel more time to prepare.

         The defendant argues that the supplemental reports are not proper supplements under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26(e), and instead are entirely new reports that are untimely. The defendant moved to strike the reports as untimely, and requested an emergency hearing to discuss the matter. The defendant further requested that Dr. Ostergard's deposition be held in abeyance until the court ruled on the motion.

         III. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a party “disclose to the other parties the identity of any witness it may use at trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(A). “Unless otherwise stipulated or ordered by the court, this disclosure must be accompanied by a written report-prepared and signed by the witness-if the witness is one retained or specially employed to provide expert testimony in the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(B). Disclosures of expert testimony are to be made “at the times and in the sequence that the court orders.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(2)(D). Parties who make a disclosure under Rule 26(a):

must supplement or correct its disclosure or response: (A) in a timely manner if the party learns that in some material respect the disclosure or response is incomplete or incorrect, and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing; or (B) as ordered by the court.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(1). Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures provides for sanctions in the event a party fails to properly disclose or supplement a disclosure.

         “Courts distinguish true supplementation (e.g., correcting inadvertent errors or omissions) from gamesmanship, and have therefore repeatedly rejected attempts to avert summary judgment by supplementing an expert report with a new and improved expert report.” Kanawha-Gauley Coal & Coke Co. v. Pittston Minerals Group, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-01278, 2011 WL 320909, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. Jan. 28, 2011) (quoting Gallagher v. S. Source Packaging, LLC, 568 F.Supp.2d 624, 631 (E.D. N.C. 2008)). Thus, the first question is whether the plaintiffs' supplemental reports are true supplementation or gamesmanship and delay. Id.

         If the defendant's supplemental disclosures are true supplementation then they are timely. If the reports are not true supplementation, then the plaintiff may not use the new information in the reports on a motion, at a hearing, or at trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(c)(1); Pittston Minerals Group, Inc., No. 2:09-cv-01278, 2011 WL 320909, at *2 (citing S. States Rack and Fixture, Inc. v. Sherwin-Williams Co., 318 F.3d 592, 695-96 (4th Cir. 2003)). “The court has ‘broad discretion' to determine whether an untimely disclosure is substantially justified or harmless.” Mullins et al. v. Ethicon, Inc., No. 2:12-cv-02952, 2017 WL 455938, at *2 (S.D. W.Va. Feb. 2, 2017) (quoting Gallagher, 568 F.Supp.2d at 631). The Fourth Circuit has held that:

in exercising its broad discretion to determine whether a nondisclosure of evidence is substantially justified or harmless for purposes of a Rule 37(c)(1) exclusion analysis, a district court should be guided by the following factors: (1) the surprise to the party against whom the evidence would be offered; (2) the ability of that party to cure the surprise; (3) the extent to which allowing the evidence would disrupt the trial; (4) the importance ...

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