Judge skeptical of Skanska’s delays in filings

We received this order from Judge Lacey Collier regarding the Skanska case:

Before the Court is the Response to the Court’s Show Cause Order (Doc. 1288) filed by Petitioners Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Inc., and Skanska USA, Inc., (“Skanska”). The show cause was issued because of Skanska’s failure to file a pretrial brief and proposed written findings of fact and conclusions of law as directed by the Court’s Order Setting Trial and Pretrial Matters (Doc. 1234). Claimants have filed a memorandum in opposition to Skanska’s response (Doc. 1292).

Skanska asserts that its failure to timely file its pretrial briefings stemmed from confusion in the reading of the Court’s pretrial order, which caused Skanska to think that the briefs were not due on August 27 but on September 13, 2021, the day upon which trial was then scheduled to commence. While there was indeed an issue in the numbering of the relevant sections in the outline of the order, Claimants attest that this issue was discussed among counsel for both parties during their pretrial conference, after which the parties timely filed their Joint Pretrial Stipulation (Doc. 1272). Claimants also fault Skanska for not seeking clarification from the Court, especially in the light of Skanska’s apparent supposition that its briefs would not be due until the day of trial.

The Court shares Claimants’ skepticism with regard to Skanska’s reading of the Court’s Order and its actions thereon. Nevertheless, Skanska’s lateness pertains only to organizational briefs that are presented largely for the Court’s benefit, and with the month long postponement of trial now in effect, perhaps fortunately for Skanska, there is little prejudice to be gleaned from its untimeliness. Accordingly, the Court will not impose sanctions.

Claimants identify other instances in which Skanska has failed to meet other deadlines in this case, which court transcripts confirm. While the Court will not now undertake to decide if these failures were intentional or the result of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” Skanska should know that the Court will have little patience for any further unwarranted delays in this case.

Finally, Claimants assert that because of Skanska’s untimeliness, Skanska had the benefit of reviewing Claimants’ pretrial briefs before submitting its own. In light
Case No.: 3:20cv5980/LAC/HTC of this fact, the Court deems it appropriate to allow Claimants the opportunity to amend their own pretrial briefs. If Claimants elect to do so, they shall have until September 21, 2021, to so file.

ORDERED on this 14th day of September, 2021.
s/L.A. Collier
Lacey A. Collier
Senior United States District Judge