[UPDATE: Sr. U.S. District Court Judge David Doty (D. Minn.) granted Becwood’s request for an extension of time. 5/11/2010]
Minnesota Litigator tries to cover developments in Minnesota civil litigation for the general public but obviously tends toward posts only a lawyer, and more particularly a Minnesota lawyer, would want to read. Maybe only a Minnesota lawyer could even comprehend — the proverbial “inside baseball.”
A kerfuffle in the Dinxi Longhai Dairy case, covered here previously, clearly presents an issue only a lawyer could love (or dread).
Every Minnesota civil litigator knows that there are different briefing schedules for “dispositive” and “non-dispositive” motions (in both the federal district court for the district of Minnesota and Minnesota state court, incidentally, but the rules are different in each system otherwise life would be too easy). As experienced litigators know, basically, “dispositive” motions are motions that, if successful, “dispose” of the case in its entirety. Non-dispositive motions, of course, are, as a general rule, less substantial motions that do not “dispose” of the case.
This is all well and good when dealing with a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment (obviously dispositive (most of the time)) or a motion to compel discovery (obviously non-dispositive (most of the time)) . Things get a little dicier when the subject matter of a motion is “kind 0f/sort of dispositive” like, say, a motion to exclude a testifying expert (which would dispose of a case if the subject matter of the testimony were the sole evidence to support an element of a litigant’s case).
In short, counsel for Defendant Becwood treated a motion to exclude its expert as “non-dispositive,” plaintiff’s counsel have pounced on the lapse when the deadline for the responsive brief to a dispositive motion came and went, and Becwood’s counsel finds itself on its heels (see here and here).
Time will tell whether Dingxi Longhai’s effort to exploit the lapse does anything more than give Becwood and its counsel momentary heartburn. Minnesota Litigator suspects not. But maybe this post will spare other litigators a similar fate (or worse)?