Buy This Entire Record For
Adkisson v. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.
United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
January 9, 2018
GREG ADKISSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. KEVIN THOMPSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. JOE CUNNINGHAM, et al., Plaintiffs,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. BILL ROSE, Plaintiff,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. CRAIG WILKINSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. ANGIE SHELTON, as wife and next of Kin on behalf of Mike Shelton, et al., Plaintiffs,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. JOHNNY CHURCH, Plaintiff,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. DONALD R. VANGUILDER, JR., Plaintiff,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. JUDY IVENS, as sister and next of kin, on behalf of JEAN NANCE, deceased, Plaintiff,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant. PAUL RANDY FARROW, Plaintiff,
JACOBS ENGINEERING GROUP, INC., Defendant.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02. The
parties appeared before the Court for a discovery status
conference on December 8, 2017, to address the expert
disclosure deadline that was recently reset by Chief Judge
Varlan in a continuance Order [Doc. 215] entered on November
9, 2017. Attorneys Keith Stewart, John Dupree, James Scott,
and John Tyler Roper appeared on behalf of the Plaintiffs.
Attorneys James Sanders and Joseph Welborn appeared on behalf
of Defendant Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.
of background, Chief Judge Varlan continued the trial in this
matter to April 16, 2018, on motion [Doc. 200] by the
Plaintiffs. Importantly, and for the purpose of the issues
now before this Court, the Order addressed all other
deadlines in this case as follows:
Any unexpired scheduling deadlines shall be applied as
calculated from the new trial date and according to the same
time limitations set forth in the Court's original
scheduling order [Doc. 37]. Additionally, and pursuant to the
scheduling order, the dispositive motion and expert
disclosure deadlines are reset to 120 days
prior to the trial date.
[Doc. 215 at 3] (emphasis in original). Thereafter, Jacobs
requested [Doc. 216] a status conference to discuss the
deadlines addressed in the Order. Specifically, the parties
interpreted the language allowing for the disclosure of
expert witnesses up to 120 days before trial differently.
During a November 29, 2017 status conference before Chief
Judge Varlan, it became clear that the Plaintiffs interpreted
the extension of time as setting an entirely new deadline
that allowed the parties to introduce new expert witnesses as
well as supplement or provide entirely new opinions from
existing experts. In contrast, Jacobs believed the extension
of the expert disclosure deadline only applied to existing
experts and merely allowed for the supplementation of
existing expert reports. After hearing further argument from
the parties, Chief Judge Varlan reset the trial to September
17, 2018, and the dispositive motion deadline to 150 days
prior to the new trial date. As to the issues related to the
expert disclosure deadline, Chief Judge Varlan referred the
matter to this Court given the undersigned's familiarity
with the procedural posture of this case in matters related
to discovery and expert witnesses.
Court held a discovery status conference on December 8, 2017.
Mr. Stewart, on behalf of the Plaintiffs, informed the Court
that they anticipated bringing in three new experts,
including Avner Vengosh, Ph.D., who had been identified in
their Rule 26 initial disclosures. In addition, the
Plaintiffs stated they would in turn eliminate one or two of
their existing experts. Moreover, Mr. Stewart expressed the
Plaintiffs' belief that the continuance Order reset the
clock for disclosure of expert witnesses, thereby allowing
them to introduce their three new experts. Mr. Sanders, on
behalf of Jacobs, countered that because the expert
disclosure deadline had long since passed and been extended
for the Plaintiffs, it was not reasonable to interpret the
continuance Order as essentially giving the Plaintiffs a
“re-do.” After hearing further argument on the
matter, the Court granted Jacobs' request to allow the
parties to brief the matter further.
thoroughly reviewed all the relevant filings in this matter,
including the Plaintiffs' motion to continue [Doc. 200],
Jacobs' response [Doc. 214], the continuance Order [Doc.
215], the parties' status report [Doc. 219], and the
parties' post-hearing briefs [Docs. 226 & 229], as
well as statements and arguments made before this Court and
Chief Judge Varlan, the Court finds the continuance Order did
not set a new deadline to allow the disclosure of new expert
witnesses. First, the basis of the continuance order and the
resetting of the expert disclosure and dispositive motion
deadline was at the request of the Plaintiffs, whose motion
consistently argued throughout that their existing experts
needed additional time to finalize or supplement their
reports due, at least in part, to discovery Jacobs had
recently disclosed. [Doc. 200 at 4, 6, 8-9]. Indeed, the
Plaintiffs' motion concludes that “further
considerations must take place by all of the experts involved
with this case.” [Id. at 9]. Accordingly, the
Court finds that Chief Judge Varlan's continuance Order
neither contemplated nor anticipated the introduction of new
expert witnesses when it reset the expert disclosure
deadline. Rather, the Court finds the extension of time was
meant to accommodate the Plaintiffs' specific request to
allow their existing experts more time to complete and/or
supplement their reports accordingly.
the Court observes that at the time the Plaintiffs moved for
a continuance, their expert disclosure deadline had expired
almost six months prior on May 1, 2017. The Court
subsequently extended the deadline to July 14, 2017, to allow
the Plaintiffs to correct deficiencies in two expert reports
and to provide reports for two other experts who had not
filed reports. [Doc. 162]. The Plaintiffs have not made any
showing that they are entitled to introduce new experts
subsequent to their long passed expert disclosure deadline.
While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e)(2) allows for
supplementation of expert reports, the rule only extends to
experts who have filed reports pursuant to Rule 26(a)(2)(B).
Furthermore, the Plaintiffs argue in their post-hearing brief
to the Court that the expert disclosure deadline was reset
“because of Jacob's failure to timely comply with
discovery obligations.” [Doc. 229 at 4]. In other
words, the Plaintiffs suggest that they are entitled to
introduce new experts because of fault attributed to Jacobs
in disclosing discovery. The Court finds that Chief Judge
Varlan made no specific finding as to fault, delay, or bad
faith on behalf of Jacobs in granting the Plaintiffs'
motion to continue.
the Court finds that the extension of the expert disclose
deadline only extends to existing experts and the
supplementation of their reports. The Court, however, is
mindful that the Plaintiffs did initially identify Dr.
Vengosh in their Rule 26 disclosures and therefore Jacobs has
been on notice of the potential for Dr. Vengosh to be an
expert witness in this case, albeit no further disclosure
under Rule 26(a)(2)(B) has been made. However, the two
additional experts that the Plaintiffs wish to introduce-an
industrial hygienist and medical doctor/toxicologist- have
not been identified by the Plaintiffs to date, and the
Plaintiffs have not provided any information as to how soon
they will be able to identify these two experts. Given the
initial disclosure of Dr. Vengosh and the new trial date of
September 17, 2018, the Court will GRANT the
Plaintiffs 30 days from the date of this
Order to submit a short report to the Court that (1)
identifies the names of the new expert witnesses, (2) a
general statement of the testimony the experts are expected
to provide, (3) the basis for their testimony, and (4) a
brief statement as to why the Plaintiffs need these expert
witnesses and why the Court should allow late disclosure.
Jacobs shall have 14 days to file a
response. Thereafter, the Court will determine whether the
Plaintiffs have shown good cause for allowing new experts in
this case. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4) (a
court's scheduling order “may be modified only for
good cause and with the judge's consent”). Finally,
as to existing expert reports, the parties shall have up to
60 days prior to the date of trial to
supplement expert reports.
 Attorney Karen Crutchfield on behalf
of G.UB.MK Constructors was also present but did not
participate in the hearing. G.UB.MK Constructors is a
Defendant in McCarthy v. G.UB.MK Constructors et
al., 3:14-CV-472, which is a related case but has ...