United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
ARNOLD SANS ONE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Green moves to have thirteen requests for admission deemed
admitted by Costco. (Doc. 18, pp. 1-2). Costco failed to
respond to Ms. Green's motion within the fourteen days
permitted by the Local Rules for responding to a motion.
See Local Rule 3.01(b). Instead, Costco filed its
response a week later than the response was due. (Doc. 19).
Costco advises that it finally served its responses to Ms.
Green's prior requests for admission-albeit, over at
least three months late-and that its delay should be excused.
Included in its response, Costco requests that it be
permitted to withdraw any deemed admissions for the second
and eighth through thirteenth requests.
November 16, 2017, Ms. Green served requests for admission on
Costco. (Doc. 18, p. 4). Under Rule 36(a)(3), the party
receiving requests for admission must serve written answers
or objections on the requesting party within thirty days.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). Therefore, Costco had until December
18, 2017, to respond to Ms. Green's requests for
admission. Costco responded on March 21, 2018.
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a party to serve
another party with a written request to admit the truth of
relevant matters. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1). If the receiving
party fails to respond to requests for admission within
thirty days, any matters properly included in the requests
are deemed admitted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(3). The rule requires
neither further action by the requesting party or court
intervention; instead, matters properly requested to be
admitted are automatically deemed admitted. Id.;
see also Schwartz v. NCL (Bahamas), Ltd., No.
08-23092-CIV-JORDAN/McAiley, 2009 WL 10666990, at *1 (S.D.
Fla. Aug. 17, 2009) (stating that, when a receiving party
fails to respond to requests for admission, a motion to deem
items admitted is unnecessary because the items are
automatically deemed admitted). Rule 36 ensures trials are
expedited and relieves parties of the costs associated with
proving facts that will not be disputed at trial. Perez
v. Miami-Dade Cty., 297 F.3d 1255, 1264 (11th Cir. 2002)
(citation omitted). A matter admitted under Rule 36 is
conclusively established unless the court permits a party to
withdraw or amend the admission. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b).
Costco failed to respond to Ms. Green's requests for
admission within thirty days. Therefore, the thirteen items
properly included in Ms. Green's request are
automatically deemed admitted under the plain language of
Rule 36. Because court action is unnecessary and inconsistent
with the plain language of Rule 36, Ms. Green's motion
for the court to deem the requests admitted is denied.
with Rule 36(b), however, Costco seeks permission to withdraw
its deemed admissions. Under Rule 36(b), the court may permit
a party to withdraw or amend its admissions if doing so would
promote a presentation of the merits of the case and no
prejudice exists with respect to the opposing party.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). Therefore, before allowing a party to
withdraw or amend its admissions, the court must determine
whether: (1) withdrawing or amending the admissions would
promote a presentation on the merits of the case; and (2)
there would be prejudice to the party who obtained the
admissions in its presentation of the case. Perez,
297 F.3d at 1264. The first step emphasizes the importance of
having cases decided on the merits and is satisfied when the
admissions-before withdrawal or amendment-eliminate
presentation of the merits of the case. Id. at 1266
(citations omitted). The second step relates to the
difficulty the party who obtained the admissions might face
in proving its case because of a “sudden need” to
obtain evidence with respect to the items deemed admitted.
Id. at 1266-67 (citations omitted).
case, Ms. Green alleges Costco's negligence caused the
injuries she sustained while on Costco's premises. (Doc.
2). Ms. Green claims she was struck by shopping carts
transported by Costco employees. (Id.). Ms.
Green's second request for admission concerns whether the
Costco employees transporting shopping carts acted within the
scope of their employment. (Doc. 18, p. 3). Ms. Green's
eighth through thirteenth requests for admission concern
relevant elements of negligence and whether those elements
are met. (Id. at 4). For example, Ms. Green's
twelfth request asks Costco to admit that Ms. Green's
injuries were “caused by the negligence of
Costco.” (Doc. 18, p. 4). Not surprisingly, Costco
requests leave to withdraw its admissions to the second and
eighth through thirteenth requests from Ms. Green. (Doc. 19).
respect to the first factor in determining whether the court
should permit Costco to withdraw its admissions, withdrawal
would clearly promote a presentation on the merits of this
case. Ms. Green's cause of action stems from Costco's
alleged negligence and the admissions Costco seeks to
withdraw establish that negligence. Permitting Costco to
withdraw its admissions to Ms. Green's second and eighth
through thirteenth requests would allow these important and
central issues to be decided on their merits. Therefore, this
factor weighs in Costco's favor.
respect to the second factor, Ms. Green will not be
prejudiced by Costco's withdrawal of the second and
eighth through thirteenth admissions. In its answer, Costco
denied any negligence resulting in injury to Ms. Green. (Doc.
4). Thus, Ms. Green knew from the start of this case that she
would have to prove the elements of negligence. Also, the
trial in this case does not begin until December 2018. When
the party who obtained the admissions knows-from the start of
the case-that she must prove the elements of her cause of
action and trial has not yet begun, there is no prejudice to
that party under Rule 36(b). Perez, 287 F.3d at
1267-68. Therefore, this factor also weighs in Costco's
favor and Costco's motion to withdraw its admissions to
Ms. Green second and eighth through thirteenth requests is
the court admonishes Costco to adhere to all future
deadlines. Rule 36(a)(3) gives a party thirty days to respond
to requests for admission. Costco responded to Ms.
Green's requests for admission four months after
receiving the request. (Doc. 19, pp. 1-2). Local Rule 3.01(b)
gives a party opposing a motion fourteen days to respond to
that motion. Costco responded to Ms. Green's Motion to
Deem Matters Admitted three weeks after Ms. Green submitted
her motion. (Doc. 19). Costco's gripe that Ms. Green
failed to serve all of Costco's attorneys or that Ms.
Green served the wrong attorney is meritless because Ms.
Green served all of Costco's attorneys via CM/ECF and
Costco still failed to submit a timely response. The court
will not excuse inattention to deadlines imposed by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules because
two attorneys (in a law firm with eight attorneys) failed to
convene and discuss which discovery request each attorney
a court order is unnecessary to have requests for admission
deemed admitted under Rule 36, Ms. Green's Motion to ...