The Other Side’s Inaction May Not Be Enough for Relief from the Scheduling Order

Emanuel v. Bastrop ISD, No. A-12-CV-592-LY, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Dec. 19, 2013)(Austin, M.J.)

The Title VII plaintiff had failed to respond to discovery, in part because of intermittent legal representation during the course of the case.  Magistrate Judge ordered Emanuel to serve disclosures, provide a complete and verified interrogatory response, and produce “all outstanding responsive documents on or before Monday, January 6, 2014.”  Slip op. at 3 (underscore and bold omitted).  But he declined the school district’s request for an extension of the dates in the scheduling order, pointing the parties to Judge Yeakel’s allowance of agreed extensions for most deadlines, as well as his etched-in-stone dates for the pretrial conference (late June 2014) and trial (July 2014).  Id. at 3-4.

Magistrate Judge Austin Recommends Rule 12(b)(6) Dismissal of Unusual ADA Case

Tran v. Pflugerville Independent School District, No. A-13-CV-145-LY, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Dec. 19, 2013)(Austin, M.J.)

The school district’s Rule 12(b)(6) motion in this case challenged the ability of a former teacher to bring an employment discrimination claim under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Slip op. at 7.  After a tumultuous stint at Connally High School that ended in his emergency commitment to a psychiatric hospital, Tran and the school district reached a separation agreement.  Id. at 4.  From the few details available in the complaint and briefs, Magistrate Judge Austin assumed the agreement released a number of claims, but not the ADA Title II claim at issue.  Id. 

Title II of the ADA is the vehicle for disabled persons to challenge public entities whose facilities or programs are inaccessible.  Slip op. at 5 (quoting Melton v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 391 F.3d 669, 671-72 (5th Cir. 2004)).  The circuit courts are split on whether an employment discrimination claim may be asserted under Title II and the Fifth Circuit has not reached the issue.  Id. at 8.  Magistrate Judge Austin concluded the majority view—that Title I was the exclusive remedy for employment discrimination—was more persuasive, and he recommended therefore that Judge Yeakel dismiss Tran’s claims.  Id. at 9-10.

Magistrate Judge Austin Rejects Audacious Argument for Denying Leave to Amend

Simms, ex rel. United States of America v. Austin Radiological Association, No. A-10-CV-914-AWA, slip op. (W.D. Tex. Dec. 18, 2013)(Austin, M.J.)

The issue in this qui tam case was whether the Austin Radiological Association’s (ARA’s) begrudging disclosure during a discovery hearing of the affiliate it had redacted from its document production triggered the public disclosure bar of the False Claims Act, thereby precluding the relator from amending its complaint and adding that affiliate as a defendant.  Slip op. at 1-2.  The public disclosure bar is triggered only where “substantially the same allegations or transactions as alleged in the action were publicly disclosed.”  Id. at 6 (quoting 31 U.S.C. § 3730(e)(4)(A).  Magistrate Judge Austin easily distinguished the cases ARA cited and granted the relator leave to amend the complaint and to join the additional defendant.  Id. at 5-12.