Abrego v. A&L Industrial Services, 1:13cv414 (9/23/13)
Judge: Ron Clark
Holding: Case Management Order
One of the enduring (after 20 years you get to use that word) characteristics of Eastern District judges is their tendency to manage their dockets creatively, coming up with new ways to handle recurring issues, often to minimize cost and delay.
A good example of this is this order issued last week by Judge Ron Clark of Beaumont in a complex case (nonpatent), who came up with some innovative practices, as noted below. The case involves three related cases involving alleged FLSA violations from a number of subcontractors, all working at the same worksite. There are over 900 plaintiffs and nearly 30 defendants in the litigation, and Judge Clark studied ways to reduce the expense of discovery. Here is what he came up with, specifically with regard to consolidation and deposition practice:
Judge Clark noted that he was considering a consolidation scheme, where all claims against a single Defendant would be combined. "If any party has an objection to this procedure, it must be filed by October 1, 2013," he ordered. "If no party objects, it will be deemed unopposed."
Next, until such time as scheduling orders are entered in the severed cases, depositions may proceed in the following manner.
- To reduce costs, counsel for each Defendant does not have to attend the depositions of past or present employees or officers of other defendants. Mr. Werner shall notify counsel for Defendants who do not appear when the transcribed deposition is received from the reporter. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(f).
- Defense counsel who did not attend will have 21 days to notify all parties of intent to ask additional questions to the witness. All counsel shall cooperate to arrange a second deposition of the witness at which all counsel wishing to ask additional questions shall attend.
- Such second deposition shall not be used to rehash topics covered in the first deposition. Questions shall be limited to topics relevant specifically to that attorney’s client.
- The cost of such depositions shall be divided by defense counsel attending in proportion to the number of pages required for each attorney’s portion of the deposition.
"This procedure is designed to minimize costs to defendants by alleviating the need for each to attend depositions likely to be irrelevant to their client but allow an opportunity to question a witness who unexpectedly provides information relevant to that Defendant’s defense," Judge Clark wrote. "It is not to be used as a method of multiplying costs to Plaintiffs or to inconvenience witnesses."