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The Huntington National Bank v. Hard Rock Exploration, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

January 29, 2018

THE HUNTINGTON NATIONAL BANK, Plaintiff,
v.
HARD ROCK EXPLORATION, INC., CARALINE ENERGY COMPANY, BLUE JACKET GATHERING, LLC, BLUE JACKET PARTNERSHIP, BROTHERS REALTY, LLC, DUANE YOST, JAMES L. STEPHENS, JR., GREGORY LAUGHLIN and MONICA R. FRANCISCO, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER CONFIRMING PRONOUNCED ORDER OF THE COURT DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO EXTEND DISCOVERY AND TIME TO RESPOND TO PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Background

         On January 23, 2018, the parties, by counsel, appeared in this Court for a hearing on certain defendants' motions to extend discovery and the time to respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The motions to extend discovery and the time to respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment were filed by defendant Gregory Laughlin ("Laughlin") (ECF No. 130), Defendants James Stephens, Jr. ("Stephens, Jr.") and Monica Francisco ("Francisco") (ECF No. 131), and defendant Duane Yost ("Yost") (ECF No. 132). Specifically, the motions represent that the movants require additional time to take the deposition of Mr. Robert Redfield of Huntington Insurance, Inc. Defendant Laughlin, joined by defendants Stephens, Jr., Francisco, and Yost, then filed a motion for an expedited emergency hearing on the motions to extend discovery and the time to respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The motion for an expedited emergency hearing represented that the hearing was required "to prevent irrevocable prejudice and harm from the Court's premature consideration of Plaintiff's dispositive motion when discovery is not complete and the Trustee and his counsel have not appeared or yet been able to protect the interests of the Debtor entities." ECF No. 133.

         The Court granted the motion for an expedited emergency hearing on the defendants' motions and directed that counsel meet and confer prior to the hearing. The Court also suspended the January 19, 2018 deadline for the defendants to file responses to the summary judgment motion until the Court ruled on the defendants' motions. At the hearing, counsel reported to the Court that they did meet and confer prior to the hearing concerning the possible resolution of the defendants' motions. This Court then heard oral argument on the defendants' motions. For the following reasons, this Court denied the defendants' motions to extend discovery and the time to respond to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

         II. Applicable Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides:

(d) When Facts Are Unavailable to the Nonmovant. 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.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d)-[1]

         "If a party believes that more discovery is necessary for it to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact, the proper course is to file a Rule 56(f) affidavit stating 'that it could not properly oppose a motion for summary judgment without a chance to conduct discovery.'" Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 961 (4th Cir. 1996)). "We have warned litigants that we 'place great weight on the Rule 56(f) affidavit' and that y [a] reference to Rule 56(f) and the need for additional discovery in a memorandum of law in opposition to a motion for summary judgment is not an adequate substitute for a Rule 56(f) affidavit.'" Id.

         "Indeed, 'the failure to file an affidavit under Rule 56(f) is itself sufficient grounds to reject a claim that the opportunity for discovery was inadequate.'" Id. "The purpose of the affidavit is to ensure that the nonmoving party is invoking the protections of Rule 56(f) in good faith and to afford the trial court the showing necessary to assess the merit of a party's opposition." Id. ...


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