United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses Plaintiffs' Motion
for Reconsideration of the Order Denying Extension of Time to
Amend Complaint. ECF No. 27. No hearing is necessary.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following
reasons. Plaintiffs* Motion for Reconsideration is denied.
Court issued its first Opinion in this case on August 19,
2016. granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure
to State a Claim, but allowing Plaintiffs fourteen days to
file an Amended Complaint. ECF No. 14; ECF No. 15. The
parties subsequently agreed to extend this deadline by three
weeks, stating that "[t]he parties are discussing a
potential resolution of this matter, " and "[t]he
parties believe the requested extension will facilitate these
discussions." ECF No. 16 at 1. The Court thus extended the
deadline for Plaintiffs to file their Amended Complaint until
September 23. 2016. ECF No. 17.
did not submit an Amended Complaint by the September 23, 2016
deadline, however, nor did Plaintiffs move for a second
extension of time. As a courtesy, the Court's chambers
emailed counsel on September 26. 2016. inquiring as to the
status of the case. ECF No. 21-1 at 6. Plaintiffs"
counsel replied to chambers, stating that "[w]e are
still engaged in settlement negotiations, so we will need to
seek additional time." ECF No. 21-1 at 6. But Plaintiffs
did not file a motion seeking additional time. In fact, more
than five months passed by without any activity of any kind
on the docket. The Court finally dismissed the case with
prejudice on March 3, 2017. ECF No. 18.
the Court's final order was entered. Plaintiffs filed a
Motion on March 10. 2017, requesting an ''extension
of time to amend and replace counsel." ECF No. 19.
Plaintiffs explained that they had originally sought an
extension of time "because it was expected that the
parties would either settle this case or amend the complaint,
if settlement negotiations fail." ECF No. 19 ¶ 2.
However, they complained that "Defendants took well over
6 months to consider Moussavi for a loan modification."
which was the stated purpose of the settlement negotiations.
Id. ¶ 4. In support of their Motion, Plaintiffs
attach several emails between Plaintiffs* counsel and
Defendants' counsel - to which the Court was not copied -
stating in one email on December 13. 2016, "[t]he
District Court has not bothered us, so I'm not sure where
we are with time." ECF No. 21-1 at 4.
consideration of Plaintiffs' Motion for Extension of
Time, the Court found that nothing was extraordinary about
unsuccessful settlement negotiations, and that
Plaintiffs" excuse ultimately amounted to no more than
palpable oversight or administrative failure. ECF No. 25 at
5. The Court reasoned that failed attempts at settlement do
not excuse noncompliance with the Court's deadlines,
especially considering that Plaintiffs could have requested
additional extensions of time or a stay of the case, but
failed to do either. Id. Therefore, the Court denied
Plaintiffs" Motion for Extension of Time on April 6.
2017. Id. Now. Plaintiffs have moved for
reconsideration of the Court's decision. ECF No. 27.
Plaintiffs state that "the Court missed the December 13.
2016 email ... where Moussavi[s'] counsel sent [a
message] to opposing counsel stating she was under the
impression the Court was giving the parties time to negotiate
a settlement but was unaware of how much time [they] had to
negotiate." ECF No. 27 ¶ 2. Plaintiffs further
protest that "[h]ad the Court given a new time frame or
replied. Counsel would have complied." Id.
Plaintiffs claim that the Court is missing the point."
ECF No. 27 at 2. It is Plaintiffs who miss the point. When,
as a courtesy, the Court's chambers contacted counsel to
inquire as to the status of the Amended Complaint, the
Court-imposed deadline for amending the complaint had already
passed. Thus, on that date, rather than sending a courtesy
email from chambers, the Court would have been well within
its discretion to dismiss the case absent a showing of
"'excusable neglect." Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(I):
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b): Link v. Wabash
R.R. Co., 370 U.S. 626. 630-31 (1962) ("The
authority of a court to dismiss sua sponte for lack of
prosecution has generally been considered an "inherent
power.' governed not by rule or statute but by the
control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own
affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious
disposition of cases.''): United Slates v.
Moussaoui, 483 F.3d 220. 236 (4th Cir. 2007). Plaintiffs
counsel responded to the Court's chambers, stating that
"we will need to seek additional time." ECF No.
21-1 at 6. However, that additional time was never sought,
and five full months elapsed before the Court took action.
Even Plaintiffs' December 13. 2016 email, which
Plaintiffs point to as indicating their belief that they were
not ""sure where we are with time, " ECF No.
21-1 at 4, was sent approximately three months before the
Court finally dismissed the case with prejudice. Nothing in
Plaintiffs' "attached evidence." which was
already reviewed and considered in the Court's April 6.
2017 Memorandum Opinion, changes this calculus.
it is not the job of the Court to monitor deadlines and
requests for extensions or stays. It is the job of the
parties. Plaintiffs missed the September 23, 2016 deadline
for amending the complaint. As indicated in the Court's
prior opinion, this is not an "'extraordinary
case" where excusable neglect can be found. ECF No. 25
at 5. Indeed, mere confusion cannot and will not establish
excusable neglect in this case. See, e.g., Heyman v. M.L.
Mktg. Co., 116 F.3d 91. 96 (4th Cir. 1997) (affirming
district court's dismissal because procedural confusion
was not an acceptable reason for neglect); Brandon v.
Marsh, 943 F.2d 48. at *2 (4th Cir. 1991) (affirming
district court's denial of motion for relief from
judgment where "the record before the court was a blank
page for fifteen months, and counsel was not forthcoming with
an acceptable reason for this inactivity"): Smith v.
Look Cycle USA. 933 F.Supp.2d 787. 792 (F.D. Va. 2013)
(finding that counsel's confusion was "beyond the
realm of excusable neglect"). Moreover, nothing in
Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration suggests that
"(1) an intervening change in the controlling law has
occurred, (2) evidence not previously available has become
available, or (3) it is necessary to correct a clear error of
law or prevent manifest injustice." Turner v.
Kight, 21 7 F.Supp.2d 680, 681 (D. Md. 2002) (listing
justifications for granting a motion for reconsideration).
Accordingly, the Motion for Reconsideration is denied. A
separate Order shall issue.
Pin cites to documents tiled on the
Court's electronic tiling system (CM/HCF) refer to the
page numbers ...