United States District Court, D. Maryland
HAZEL L. SANDERS, Plaintiff,
ENOS CONTRACTORS et al., Defendants.
ELLEN LIPTON HOLLANDER, District Judge.
On September 6, 2013, plaintiff Hazel L. Sanders, who is self-represented, filed suit against defendants Enos Contractors, Tracy Richards, and Berkshire Property Advisors, LLC, alleging that they have committed violations of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq. ECF 1. On December 31, 2014, plaintiff filed two motions: 1) a "Request for Extension for Production of Documents by the Defendants, " requesting an extension of time for Sanders to respond to defendants' discovery request (ECF 39); and 2) a motion to appoint counsel (ECF 40). Plaintiff supplemented her motion to appoint counsel on January 5, 2014 (ECF 41), with a letter repeating her arguments in the first motion and a letter from her doctor (ECF 41-1).
No hearing is needed to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I will deny both motions.
I. The Motion for Extension
Plaintiff's motion for an extension states as follows, ECF 39: "I am respectfully asking the court for an extension of time for production of documents that the defendants are requesting because I am not represented by counsel. I need time to retain counsel which I am still trying to do. Or time to prepare because I am acting pro se at this point."
As stated, plaintiff filed suit in September 2013. ECF 1. Therefore, she has had more than a year to obtain counsel.
At the outset, plaintiff asked the Court to appoint counsel. ECF 3. The motion was denied, for the reasons stated in my Order (ECF 14).
On April 17, 2014, plaintiff renewed her request for appointment of counsel. ECF 15. At about the same time, on April 24, 2014, a Scheduling Order was issued for this case. See ECF 16. It set a discovery deadline of September 8, 2014. Id. at 3. In that Order, I advised the parties to submit any request to change any deadline established by the schedule, in writing, no later than May 9, 2014. Id. at 2. The Order furthered advised that any requests submitted after that date would only be authorized "for good cause shown." Id. On May 8, 2014, plaintiff asked the court to modify the Scheduling Order, and "to consider an extension of time, " without further detail, explaining that she needed "more time to retain legal counsel." ECF 17. The same day, I denied the request for appointment of counsel, but granted plaintiff's renewed request for an extension, and extended all deadlines in the Scheduling Order by six weeks. ECF 18.
On October 21, 2014, defendant Richards moved for an extension of the discovery deadline until February 24, 2015. ECF 32, ¶ 9. The motion was joined by Sanders. Id. ¶ 8. In light of the fact that Richards had been served with the Complaint on July 24, 2014, I granted the motion. ECF 33.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4), a "schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." "Properly construed, "good cause" means that scheduling deadlines cannot be met despite a party's diligent efforts.'" Jones v. Hoffberger Moving Servs. LLC, JKB-13-535, 2014 WL 6892164, at *2 (D. Md. Dec. 3, 2014) ((quoting Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Elec. Motor Supply, Inc., 190 F.R.D. 372, 375 (D. Md. 1999) (quoting Dilmar Oil Co., Inc. v. Federated Mut. Ins. Co., 986 F.Supp. 959, 980 (D.S.C. 1997)); accord, e.g., Kolb v. ACRA Control, Ltd., 88 F.Supp. 3d 515, 527 (D. Md. May 16, 2014) (holding no good cause shown where no showing of efforts to meet deadline).
As noted, the parties' discovery deadlines have previously been extended. The current discovery deadline of February 26, 2015 (ECF 33) is more than six weeks away.
The Court appreciates that Ms. Sanders has submitted her motion for extension of time well in advance of the deadline. However, Ms. Sanders has not shown why diligent efforts over the next six weeks cannot suffice to meet the deadline. Indeed, there is no good cause to modify the schedule. Therefore, the motion (ECF 40; ECF 41) is denied.
II. Request for Counsel
As noted, in September 2013, and again in April 2014, plaintiff asked the Court to appoint an attorney for her. See ECF 3, ECF 15. She argued that she could not afford counsel because she "is a disabled senior on a fixed income." ECF 3. I denied plaintiff's initial motion, finding that Ms. Sanders had "demonstrated the wherewithal either to articulate the legal and factual basis of her claims herself or to secure meaningful assistance in doing so, " and that the "issue pending before the Court is not unduly complicated." ECF 14 at 1-2. Therefore, I found there were no "exceptional circumstances" warranting appointment of ...