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Kegerise v. Susquehanna Township School District

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 22, 2017



          William W. Caldwell United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before us is Plaintiff's motion to allow her to withdraw her admissions to Defendants' requests for admission and to allow her to file amended answers. Plaintiff is Dr. Susan M. Kegerise. The defendants are the Susquehanna Township School District and three members of the District's School Board, Carol L. Karl, Jesse Rawls, Sr., and Mark Y. Sussman. Plaintiff is suing for her allegedly improper discharge as the District's superintendent.

         The parties dispute whether Plaintiff served Defendants with timely answers to the requests. She says she did, and Defendants disagree. In her pending motion, Plaintiff suggests we can ignore this factual dispute and, assuming she did not serve timely answers, simply decide whether, in any event, Plaintiff should be allowed at this time to file answers to the requests. Although she insists she did serve timely answers, Plaintiff invites us to take this course as one way of resolving the dispute over the requests for admission.

         We agree with Plaintiff that we need not decide the factual dispute over whether she served timely answers to the requests. Even if she did not, we can exercise our discretion to grant her request that she be allowed to file answers now.

         II. Background

         On April 30, 2016, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a), Defendants served on Plaintiff twenty-seven requests for admission. Plaintiff had thirty days to respond to the requests or the matters they asserted would be deemed admitted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). At the time the requests were served, the discovery deadline was May 31, 2016; the deadline for filing pretrial motions was August 26, 2016; and trial was set for November 2016. (Doc. 57, scheduling order). The discovery deadline was later extended to July 18, 2016. (Doc. 107).

         On August 26, 2016, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Their statement of material facts in support of the motion relied on the requests for admission, asserting that Plaintiff had failed to timely respond or object to the requests and that they were therefore deemed admitted under Rule 36(a)(3).

         Later that day, Plaintiff's counsel sent Defendants' counsel an e-mail stating that he had just read the statement of material facts and it was the first time he was aware that defense counsel had not received Plaintiff's answers to the requests. Writing “Here they are again, ” Plaintiff's counsel set forth in the e-mail answers to the requests. Counsel also requested that defense counsel withdraw the statement of material facts. (Doc. 115-3, Pl.'s Ex. C).

         In her motion to withdraw the admissions, filed on September 2, 2016, Plaintiff represents that her counsel sent her answers to defense counsel on May 23, 2016, in an envelope in which he also sent other discovery material. (Doc. 115, Mot. to withdraw admissions ¶ 3). Defendants maintain that, while they did receive the other discovery material, the answers were never sent on May 23, 2016. (Doc. 119, Defs.' answer to Pl.'s motion). Instead, Plaintiff's first answers to the requests were by way of the August 26, 2016, e-mail.

         By order of October 12, 2016, the case was removed from the November 2016 trial list, to be rescheduled after resolution of pending motions, including Defendants' motion for summary judgment and the current motion to withdraw admissions. Thereafter, the parties engaged in mediation, which was unsuccessful. (Doc. 137, report of the magistrate judge, dated February 27, 2017).

         III. Discussion

         In pertinent part, Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1)(A) permits a party to “serve on any other party a written request to admit . . . the truth of any matters . . . relating to . . . facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either . . . .” The request is deemed admitted unless within thirty days after being served with the request, the opposing party serves the requesting party with a written answer or objection. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3).

         A party may file a motion to withdraw an admission or to amend it. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). “[T]he court may permit withdrawal or amendment if it would promote the presentation of the merits of the action and if the court is not persuaded that it would prejudice the requesting party in maintaining or defending the action on the merits.” Id. “Courts may consider other factors as well, such as whether the moving party can show good cause for the delay, see Conlon v. United States,474 F.3d 616, 625 (9th Cir. ...

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