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United States ex rel. Caver v. Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama, P.C.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 22, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. LORI L. CARVER, Plaintiff,
v.
PHYSICIANS' PAIN SPECIALISTS OF ALABAMA, P.C., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM H. STEELE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the objection of defendant Castle Medical, LLC (“Castle”) to a Magistrate Judge order. (Doc. 140). The Court has reviewed the objection and accompanying brief and concludes that no further briefing is required.

         BACKGROUND

         The order at issue denied Castle's motion to stay discovery and granted the plaintiff's motion to compel discovery. (Doc. 139). The relevant timeline is as follows:

• March 20, 2017 Castle is served with process
• April 10, 2017 Castle files its answer
• June 2, 2017 Parties file their Rule 26(f) report
• June 13, 2017 Plaintiff serves discovery requests on Castle
• August 2, 2017 Plaintiff files a motion to compel
• August 2, 2017 Castle files a motion for judgment on the Pleadings (“JOP”)

         Castle's motion was based on its filing of a motion for JOP which, Castle asserted, established good cause for a stay of discovery as required by Rule 26(c)(1). (Doc. 134). The Magistrate Judge denied the motion because Castle had failed to demonstrate that its JOP is clearly meritorious, because the probability the case would be dismissed in its entirety did not sufficiently outweigh the harm of a delay in discovery, and because Castle had permitted discovery to continue for two months before filing its motion for JOP. (Doc. 139).

         A Magistrate Judge's ruling on a non-dispositive matter must be affirmed unless “it has been shown that [her] order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); accord Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). As this Court has observed on repeated occasions, “[t]he ‘clearly erroneous or contrary to law' standard of review is extremely deferential. ... Relief is appropriate under the ‘clearly erroneous' prong of the test only if the district court finds that the Magistrate Judge abused [her] discretion or, if after reviewing the record as a whole, the Court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made. ... With respect to the ‘contrary to law' variant of the test, an order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law or rules of procedure.” Wright Transportation, Inc. v. Pilot Corp., 2013 WL 5718997 at *1 (S.D. Ala. 2013) (internal quotes omitted).

         DISCUSSION

         Castle identifies three grounds for objection to the Magistrate Judge's denial of its motion to stay discovery: (1) the order misapplies the standard applicable to such motions when they are grounded on the pendency of a case-dispositive facial challenge to the complaint; (2) the order incorrectly relies on the timing of the motion for JOP; and (3) the order ...


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