News & Events

COVID-19’s Impact on Your Civil Calendar*: Pandemic Triggers Varying Responses in State and Federal Courts Across the Southeast (and Beyond)

Since mid-March, courts across the country have entered varying orders addressing the national emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on litigation.  The orders vary from limiting courthouse admission to certain individuals to suspending all deadlines and trials. The information set forth below provides a snapshot of the types of orders being entered as of April 24, 2020 and the impact they are having on civil cases.[1]  The first section addresses the general orders issued by supreme courts or across districts.  The second section addresses specific trial court orders issued in light of the general orders, which have largely been entered upon discovery and scheduling motions filed by litigating parties.

ALABAMA

GEORGIA

LOUISIANA

MISSISSIPPI

SOUTH CAROLINA

TENNESSEE

TEXAS

VIRGINIA

SAMPLE OF SPECIFIC TRIAL COURT ORDERS

ALABAMA

Federal Court

Northern District of Alabama: On March 17, 2020, the Northern District of Alabama extended all unexpired discovery deadlines, deposition deadlines, and briefing schedules 14 days.[2] The Order automatically extends the deadlines for an additional 14 days unless modified—the deadlines have been automatically extended twice (through April 28). All jury proceedings and non-jury trials are continued until further notice and all other civil proceedings scheduled to be conducted in court are to be conducted as scheduled by phone, video conferencing, or other electronic means. The Order did not toll or affect the applicability of any statutory or rules-based requirements or deadlines, including but not limited to, statutes of limitation and deadlines for filing appeals. On March 24, 2020, the Honorable Madeline Hughes Haikala (ND Ala.) entered an order converting all hearings and other court proceedings to teleconferences or videoconferences. The court also stated that if counsel cannot be available for the conference, counsel does not have to file a motion to ask the Court to reschedule. Instead, counsel may email chambers, copying all counsel of record, and ask the Court to reschedule the proceeding and opposing counsel may object by email or written submission on the docket. The court requested all attorneys to accommodate reasonable requests to reschedule depositions or mediations and extend scheduling order deadlines. Also, the court waived the requirement that counsel meet in person for Rule 26(f) conferences and prohibited parties from seeking discovery from healthcare professionals without leave of Court.

Middle District of Alabama: On March 17, 2020, the Middle District of Alabama suspended all jury trials for 30 days but did not extend any discovery deadlines.[3]

Southern District of Alabama: On March 10, 2020, the Southern District of Alabama stated there had been no adjustment in court operations except for limiting access to the courthouse for certain individuals who have traveled to certain countries within the last 14 days, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or in contact within someone with COVID-19, or have been asked to self-quarantine.[4]

State Court

Supreme Court of Alabama: On March 13, 2020, the Supreme Court of Alabama suspended all in-person proceedings in all state and local courts in Alabama beginning March 16, 2020 through April 16, 2020.[5] The Order also extended all deadlines set to expire between March 16, 2020 and April 16, 2020 to April 20, 2020 but did not extend any statutory period of repose or statute of limitations period.  The Court clarified on March 17 that the extension was not intended to apply to documents or filings which may be electronically filed with the three Appellate Courts but suspended those deadlines for one week until March 23, 2020.[6] On April 2, 2020, the Court extended all deadlines previously extended through April 16, 2020, to April 30, 2020.[7] The Orders allow court proceedings by telephone, video, teleconferencing and do not affect out-of-court activities in civil cases, including, but not limited to, depositions and mediations.[8] Also, on March 24, 2020, the Court entered an Order allowing the remote administration of oaths to witnesses so long as they can positively identify and visually see the witness and suspended all rules, orders, and opinions that state oaths to witnesses must be administered in person.[9] The Order also allows out-of-state witnesses to consent to being placed under oath remotely and stated that courts shall consider these statements or testimonies as evidence. On March 12, 2020, the Honorable Elisabeth A. French entered an order suspending jury trials scheduled for March 30, 2020 and April 13, 2020. On April 8, 2020, Judge French suspended jury trials in the Birmingham and Bessemer Divisions scheduled for May 4, 2020 and May 18, 2020.

GEORGIA

Federal Court

Northern District of Georgia: On March 16, 2020, the Northern District of Georgia entered an Order continuing all jury trials, including any trial-specific deadlines, 30 days. [10]  On March 30, 2020, the Order was extended an additional 30 days (through May 15, 2020). The Order did not extend any discovery deadlines and allows judges to continue to hold hearings, conferences, and bench trials.[11] Any request for extensions may be addressed by the Presiding Judge.

Middle District of Georgia: On March 16, 2020, the Middle District of Georgia entered an Order suspending jury trials for 60 days. The Order did not extend discovery deadlines and allows judges to continue to hold hearings, conferences, and bench trials.[12] Request for extension of discovery deadlines is being handled on a case-by-case basis.

Southern District of Georgia: On March 17, 2020, the Southern District of Georgia entered an Order stating individual judges will continue to hold hearings, conferences, and jury or bench trials.[13] No discovery deadlines or jury trials have been suspended or extended. Each Judge is addressing requests for extension of discovery deadlines on a case-by-case basis.

State Court

Supreme Court of Georgia: On March 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of Georgia entered a Statewide Judicial Emergency Order suspending, tolling, and extending relief from any deadlines or filing requirements in all state and local courts in Georgia until April 13, 2020.[14] Specifically, the Orders extend the following civil deadlines: (1) statutes of limitation; (2) time within which discovery or any aspect thereof is to be completed; (3) time within which to serve a party; (4) time within which to appeal or to seek the right to appeal any order, ruling, or other determination. On April 6, 2020, the Order was extended until May 13, 2020.[15] When the Order expires on May 13, 2020, attorneys will have the same amount of time to file their documents that they had remaining at the time the original order went into effect on March 14, 2020.[16] In effect, all pending deadlines and filing requirements in all state and local courts in Georgia have been extended 60 days.

LOUISIANA

Federal Court

Middle District of Louisiana: All civil and criminal bench and jury trials until April 30, 2020, are postponed. The postponement does not affect other deadlines. If the parties wish to modify other deadlines, they may do so through written motion. Prescriptive, preemptive, and statute of limitations deadlines are suspended until April 30, 2020.[17]

Eastern District of Louisiana: All civil and criminal bench and jury trials are scheduled to begin before August 1, 2020, are continued. These continuances do not affect any pending deadlines other than trial dates. If attorneys wish to change these deadlines, they must contact the Presiding Judge in the case. For civil and criminal in-person hearings, proceedings, and conferences scheduled to begin before August 1, 2020, counsel must contact the presiding judge’s chambers to determine whether and how the matter will proceed. Parties may seek relief from continuances by written motion in exceptional circumstances. [18]

Western District of Louisiana: All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin any date before July 1, 2020, are continued. All other hearings, conferences and/or proceedings are subject to the discretion of the Presiding Judge. Counsel may seek relief from these matters by appropriate motions. Parties are encouraged to participate in non-sentencing hearings and conferences by telephone or video.[19]

State Court

Supreme Court of Louisiana: All jury trials, both civil and criminal, scheduled to begin in any Louisiana state court before June 30, 2020, are continued. The COVID-19 concerns are being addressed on a court-by-court basis. Courts may only conduct in-person proceedings to address emergency matters that cannot be resolved virtually until May 4, 2020. In civil matters, the following are declared emergency matters: civil protective orders, child in need of care proceedings, emergency child custody matters, proceedings for children removed from their home by emergency court order, proceedings related to emergency interdictions and mental health orders, temporary restraining orders and injunctions, and matters of public health related to this crisis. The order does not prohibit court proceedings to occur by telephone or video.[20] Consent for remote hearings should not be unreasonably withheld by any party. All filings that were or are due to the Supreme Court of Louisiana between Thursday, March 12, 2020 through Friday, May 1, 2020, are considered timely if filed no later than May 4, 2020.[21]

MISSISSIPPI

Federal Court

Northern District of Mississippi: All proceedings, civil and criminal, scheduled should be continued or conducted by video or telephone conference. The Court is entertaining motions to continue jury trials on a case-by-case basis. The order has no expiration date and remains in effect until further order.[22]

Southern District of Mississippi: Through May 1, 2020, all non-essential civil and criminal matters set for hearing or trial are continued. Other than initial appearances, arraignments, detention hearings, and issuance of warrants, the Presiding Judge may have discretion to determine whether the matter is essential. Further, the Presiding Judge has discretion to order the proceedings to occur through video and telephone conferencing. The continuances do not affect any other deadlines unless approved by the Presiding Judge. The order specifically states it is designed to give the Presiding Judge flexibility to address issues as they arise.[23]

State Court

Supreme Court of Mississippi: As of the date of publication of this article, the Mississippi Supreme Court has entered eight orders related to the COVID-19 crisis. Most notably, the orders provide that courts are encouraged to limit in-person proceedings using video and telephone conferencing. [24] Further, to the extent that remote technologies are prohibited, unavailable, or infeasible, in-person proceedings such as the following may be conducted: jury trials currently in progress, emergency proceedings, and time-sensitive matters. Each judge has the discretion to determine how in-person proceedings are to be conducted. There is no date on which the order is set to expire. Individual judges have the discretion to postpone any trials on their dockets scheduled through May 15, 2020.[25] Trial courts may also exercise discretion in extending deadlines, rescheduling hearings, and any other case-specific matters.[26] All persons qualified to administer an oath may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communications to readily identify the witness.[27] Further, all rules of procedure applicable to remote depositions and testimony that can be read to limit the use of video communications to administer oaths are suspended.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Federal Court

District of South CarolinaAll jury trials scheduled to commence through July 5, 2020 are continued until further notice from the Court.[28]  All scheduling order deadlines are extended by 21 days (from original Order date of 3/16/2020).  All in-court appearances scheduled through July 5, 2020 are continued unless otherwise ordered by the presiding judge and the parties agree to conduct appearance via remote communication.

State Court

South Carolina Supreme Court: All jury trials are continued until further notice.[29]  Non-jury trials may be authorized by the Chief Admin Judge with the parties’ consent and a finding that trial can be conducted in a manner that reduces risk of exposure such as limit physical appearance at the trial to the attorneys, parties, and necessary witness, or conduct trial by remote communication. Hearings on motions may be held using remote communication technology. If the presiding judge determines that a hearing cannot be adequately held via remote communication, an in-person hearing will be conducted but will be limited to the attorneys, parties and witnesses not to exceed ten people. To minimize hearings, if, upon reviewing the motion, a judge determines it is without merit, the motion may be denied without waiting for a return from the opposing party.  All deadlines under current scheduling orders are extended for 45 days following the Governor lifting the emergency orders related to COVID-19.  All trial court filing due dates are extended 30 days (from April 3, 2020).  Procedural defaults made on or after March 13, 2020 are forgiven and extended for 30 days (from April 3, 2020).  Certain documents can be served as PDF attachment in email. Does not include summons and complaint; subpoena or any other pleading/document required to be personally served under Rule 4 SCRCP.  Settlement agreements and Consent orders can be issued without a hearing.

TENNESSEE

Federal Courts

Eastern District of Tennessee: All criminal and civil jury trials commencing before May 30, 2020, are continued. Cases not scheduled for a jury trial should continue as scheduled and the order does not affect other case-specific deadlines continued in each case’s scheduling order. Other case proceedings should take place in the “ordinary course of business” and oral proceedings will be conducted by telephone or video when practicable. All civil trials without a jury that are scheduled to begin before May 30, 2020, will be handled at the discretion of the Presiding Judge. [30]

Middle District of Tennessee: All criminal and civil jury trials scheduled to begin before May 31, 2020, are continued. Individual judges have discretion to hold hearings, conferences, and bench trials and are encouraged to do so using video conferences and telephone. A subsequent order clarified the Court’s expectations of all parties, stating that all deadlines in civil and criminal cases remain and that counsel for all parties are expected to work diligently on cases to comply with established deadlines. If parties are unable to comply with established deadlines, motions must be filed. However, the order expressly gives Presiding Judges flexibility in addressing issues that arise. [31]

Western District of Tennessee: All in-person civil proceedings currently scheduled are continued until after May 30, 2020.[32]

State Courts

Supreme Court of Tennessee: Jury trials are suspended thorough July 3, 2020.[33] Individual judicial districts may submit a written plan to gradually begin conducting in-person proceedings, other than jury trials, in some non-emergency matters. The plan shall be drafted by the presiding judge or a designee of the presiding judge in conjunction with the designated judge of the general sessions, juvenile, and municipal courts. Until the plan is approved by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, the following guidelines control: All in-person proceedings in all state and local courts are suspended, subject to a list of exceptions.[34] The supreme court has encouraged the use of video and telephone conferencing.

In addition, the deadlines set forth in court rules, statutes, ordinances, administrative rules, or otherwise that are set to expire during the period from Friday, March 13, 2020 through Sunday, May 31, 2020, are extended through June 5, 2020.[35] This includes statutes of limitations and statutes of repose that would otherwise expire. Deadlines that are not set to expire during the period are not tolled or extended. No deadlines will be extended for written responses or discovery. Taking of in-person depositions is not suspended, and judges should encourage the use of video depositions when possible. The Governor of Tennessee issued an order allowing remote notarization and remote witnessing of limited documents.[36] The Governor also issued an executive order permitting the use of electronic signatures to any pleadings or documents to be filed or served by conventional means.[37]

Tennessee State Courts: Local court orders and policies may be found here: http://www.tncourts.gov/coronavirus.

TEXAS

Federal Courts

Northern District of Texas: All civil and criminal bench and jury trials set to begin before May 31, 2020, are continued. These continuances do not affect any other pending deadlines, although attorneys may contact the Presiding Judge if they seek to change other pending deadlines. Judges may continue to hold other conferences by telephone or video. However, counsel may seek relief from these matters by appropriate motions. [38]

Southern District of Texas:  Orders are coming from the separate divisions as opposed to a general order from the Southern District. The Corpus Christi, Houston, Laredo, and McAllen divisions have each continued all criminal and civil jury trials through May 31, 2020. The Brownsville division extends its continuance until June 1, 2020. All of these orders note that the continuances do not affect any date other than a trial date, but attorneys may contact the Presiding Judge if they wish to modify deadlines. Judges will continue to hold bench trials, in-person hearings, scheduling conferences, and other court proceedings. The use of video and teleconferencing is encouraged when possible.[39]

Western District of Texas: All civil and criminal bench and jury trials scheduled to begin any date from now through May 31, 2020, are continued, to a date to be reset by each Presiding Judge. Continuances do not continue any pending deadlines other than the trial dates. If attorneys wish to modify other deadlines, they should contact the Presiding Judge. Individual judges can continue to hold in-person hearings, sentencing proceedings, and conferences, all of which are encouraged to occur by telephone or video. The Waco Division entered a standing order to address patent litigation, which allows parties who have Markman hearings scheduled before May 1, 2020, to choose between selecting a new hearing date or maintain the current hearing date and have it conducted via video conference.[40]

Eastern District of Texas: All civil and criminal jury trials scheduled to begin before May 31, 2020, are continued. Judges may hold bench trials, in-person hearings, sentencing proceedings, scheduling conferences, and other court proceedings as they deem appropriate and the use of video and telephone is encouraged. [41]

State Courts

Supreme Court of Texas: The Supreme Court of Texas has entered eleven Emergency Orders related to COVID-19. The first order, entered jointly with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, gives all courts in Texas the ability to modify or suspend all deadlines and procedures up to 30 days after the Governor’s state of disaster has been lifted.  Further, the order also grants courts the permission to allow or require, even without a participant’s consent, any hearing, deposition, or other proceedings to be held remotely. All statements made using remote means must be considered as evidence. The first order is set to expire on May 8, 2020.[42] The eighth order by the Texas Supreme Court tolls the filing or service of any civil case until June 1, 2020.[43]

Texas State Courts

Below are a few examples of specific orders regarding remote depositions from district courts.

District Courts of Nunces County: The District Court of Nunces County entered an order providing that a party’s wish to have the deposition in person is not grounds for a motion to quash. Further, a motion to quash does not stay the deposition. In ordering so, the court noted its purpose in preventing a party from unilaterally stalling depositions.[44]

151st Civil District Court of Harris County: All oral depositions may be taken, and all authorized participants may participate by remote video connection. It is not grounds for a motion to quash or protection that a party, attorney, witness, court reporter, or other authorized people under the rules does not agree to the remote deposition and wishes to have the deposition in person.[45]

129th Civil District Court of Harris County: Participants to any deposition may participate remotely. A preference to conduct the deposition in person instead of by remote connection shall not- standing alone- be a ground to file a motion to squash or for protective order or stay the deposition.[46]

VIRGINIA

Federal Courts

Eastern District of Virginia: On April 1-0, 2020, the Eastern District entered General Order No. 2020-12, which extended previous orders that instituted emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.[47]  The Order continued all non-critical and non-emergency civil in-person proceedings (court appearances, trials, hearings, and settlement conferences) through June 10, 2020. An exception was made for cases where manifest injustice would result if an in-person proceeding did not occur before June 10, 2020.  Accordingly, various chambers within the district are using video and teleconferencing capabilities to conduct various pretrial hearings and conferences with counsel.

The Alexandria, Richmond, and Norfolk Courthouses are open for drop box filings and other appropriate purposes (such as critical and emergency in-person proceedings), however, everyone is encouraged to interact with the Court through electronic and other remote means whenever possible.  Individuals who are known to have COVID-19 or that are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or meet various other risk factors outlined by the CDC (including travel to certain countries and states within the preceding 14 days), are not permitted to enter a district court without explicit permission.

Western District of Virginia: On April 16, 2020, the Western District entered its Second Amended Standing Order 2020-05, which extended the restriction on in-person court proceedings for any in-person criminal, civil, and bankruptcy proceeding through June 10, 2020.[48]  Judges are permitted to conduct proceedings via telephone and video conference.

Standing Order No. 2020-9 addresses the temporary closure clerk’s offices to the public.[49]  To reduce person-to-person contact for individuals submitting in-person filings, drop-boxes have been installed in the District’s courthouses in Abingdon; Charlottesville; Danville; Harrisonburg; Lynchburg; and Roanoke. The drop-boxes allow litigants to date stamp their filings and securely submit them without entering the Clerk’s Office.  The Court is still accepting payment of fees by personal check or certified check through the drop boxes, or by credit card over the phone or the internet.  Attorneys are also encouraged to continue filing documents on the CM/ECF system. Standing Order No. 2020-4 restricts visitor access to the District’s courthouses.[50] Individuals who are known to have COVID-19 or that are exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or meet various other risk factors (including travel to certain countries within the preceding 14 days), are not permitted to enter a district court without explicit permission.

State Courts

Supreme Court of Virginia: On March 16, 2020, the Supreme Court of Virginia declared a judicial emergency, which has subsequently been extended three times.  Currently, the Chief Justice has extended the period of judicial emergency through May 17, 2020.[51] During the period of judicial emergency, statutes of limitation and case-related deadlines are tolled.  Virginia’s district courts and circuit courts were ordered to continue all civil, traffic, and criminal matters, including civil jury trials except for emergency matters.  These lower courts may, in their discretion, and with the consent of the parties, hear non-emergency matters via secure means of two-way electronic audio-visual communication.

For appeals from Virginia circuit courts, deadlines for noticing an appeal, filling of transcripts and agreed statements of fact, and filing the petition of appeal are tolled.  However, appellate deadlines that begin to run from the filing of the trial court record with the Court of Appeals of Virginia or the Supreme Court of Virginia are not tolled.  Parties can, however, seek extensions of time for these deadlines.

SAMPLE OF SPECIFIC TRIAL COURT ORDERS

Due to the varying Shelter-in-Place Orders and other government restrictions related to travel, courts are being flooded daily with discovery and scheduling motions. While some parties seek to extend discovery deadlines or stay proceedings, others seek to push ahead by filing motions to compel. Because judges are generally handling these motions on a case-by-case basis, the section below provides some insight into how judges are handling these motions around the country.

Motion for Discovery Extension

Lurch v. City of New York, No. 19-cv-4350 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 27, 2020).  The City of New York filed a motion to stay the action for ninety (90) days in light of the recent developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.  The pro se plaintiff did not consent to the motion but the court granted the motion “given the current and ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19.”

Shull v. Ethicon, Inc., No. 3:19-cv-00969 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 2019). The judge denied an opposed motion by defendants to extend discovery deadlines with a one-sentence order stating, “Motion denied,” even though depositions were focused on very detailed medical records and a general desire by some deponents to be deposed in person.

Stevens-Bratton v. TruGreen, Inc., No.  15-2472-SHM-tmp, 2020 WL 1815943 (W.D. Tenn. Apr. 9, 2020). In a putative class action, the plaintiff filed an opposed motion requesting to conduct expert discovery. The court granted the motion and noted that if the parties needed additional time to submit a proposed scheduling order due to the coronavirus pandemic, the court would liberally grant extensions.

Infernal Technology LLC v. Sony, No. 2:19-CV-00248-JRG (E.D. Tex. Mar. 27, 2020). The plaintiff’s request for extension of time on post-Markman deadlines was denied in a patent case, with the Court stating the current deadline for discovery was June 15, 2020, and it was hopeful the situation with COVID-19 will improve by then. The court dismissed the motion without prejudice and stated the parties were free to renew their motions if the situation had not improved. Contrast this with the express extension granted by the Waco Division of the Western District.

Lewis v. Cain, No. 15-318-SDD-RLB, 2020 WL 1614424 (M.D. La. Apr. 2, 2020). The plaintiffs, several inmates incarcerated at the Louisiana State Penitentiary brought a motion to reopen discovery, declaring a need for emergency discovery was necessary due to the concerns that the prison would not take proper measures to ensure the coronavirus was contained. The court declined to grant the motion, finding the discovery request was improper given the procedural posture of the case and the fact that the discovery sought is beyond the scope of the claims asserted and tried before the court. In other words, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt at trying to join the independent claims to a case under submission. The court further noted the plaintiffs’ motion is based on speculation.

Forest Tire & Auto, LLC v. Caitlin Specialty Insurance Co., No. 3:20-CV-72-DPJ-FKB, 2020 WL 1890543 (S.D. Miss. Apr. 16, 2020). The court ordered “carefully tailored” discovery to address the jurisdiction of one defendant to be completed within 30-days, specifically noting that due to coronavirus concerns, the plaintiff may use video conferencing to depose necessary individuals.

Ensminger v. Credit Law Center, LLC, No. 19-2147-JWL, 2020 WL 1697248 (Kan. Apr. 7, 2020). The plaintiff filed a motion to amend the scheduling order by extending the discovery deadline for 90 days. The defendants opposed the motion, stating any further discovery should be limited to the subject matter of the forthcoming motion to compel, not a broad extension of the deadline. The court granted the plaintiff’s request, deciding that based on the scope of the discovery in question, it is reasonable to assume both parties will have additional follow-up to conduct.

Horning v. Resolve Marine Group, No. 19-60899-Civ-Scola, 2020 WL 1540326 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 30, 2020). The court denied a joint motion requesting the reconsideration of a request to stay the case for ninety days. In doing so, the court noted that the deadline to complete all fact discovery was before the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Florida and the deadline for expert discovery was not until April 17, 2020. The court refused to ascribe to a “one-size fits all, blanket stay or extension of deadlines.” Ultimately, the court stated that the parties may file a motion for extension of the discovery deadline for “particular deadlines specifically tailored to this case.”

Optrics Inc. v. Barracuda Networks, Inc., No. 17-cv-04977-RS, 2020 WL 1815689 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 1, 2020). The plaintiff sought a 90-day extension of all case deadlines in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the defendant opposed as unnecessary. The court noted the matter already had to endure a month-long delay because the plaintiff’s counsel abruptly withdrew from the case but allowed an additional 14 days for the plaintiff to find counsel and an additional 14 days to respond to the defendant’s motion to amend its counterclaims.

Mortland v. Local Cantina Dublin, No. 2:19-cv-01123, 2020 WL 1451569 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 25, 2020). The plaintiff requested an extension of time as to all deadlines in the case. The plaintiff also moved to reschedule a physical inspection of the defendant’s restaurant building, listing COVID-19 and the Governor’s stay-at-home order in support of the extension. The court granted the extension and postponed the inspection of the restaurant.

Kock v. Preuss, No. 19-cv-2830 (KMK), 2020 WL 1304084 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2020). The court issued an Order directing the appellant to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed in light of his failure to file a brief or otherwise prosecute his claim and the appellant responded on March 16, 2020. The court held the appellant failed to show good cause and dismissed the appeal. In dismissing the appeal, the court noted that the appellant’s invocation of the coronavirus as an excuse for his failures over the last eleven months was “appalling.” The court further noted that it had granted every request for extension or telephone conference presented in other matters based on the coronavirus, but the appellant’s invocation was not in good faith. Specifically, the appellant had several months to pursue the case before the coronavirus outbreak but failed to do so.

Birdsong v. Treasure Bay, No. 24C12:19-cv-00154 (Apr. 8, 2020). In the Second Judicial District of the Circuit Court of Harrison County, Judge Dodson granted the Plaintiff forty-five additional days in which to answer the first set of written discovery propounded by the defendant. The motion was unopposed. The court further ordered that should the State of Mississippi impose a shelter-in-place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the deadline to answer is automatically extended thirty-days after the order is lifted.

Motion to Stay Proceedings

Superior Home Mortgage, LLC v. Marbury, No. 1:19-cv-02056-STA-jay, 2020 WL 1878861 (W.D. Tenn. Apr. 15, 2020). The defendants filed a motion to stay all civil action proceedings pending the resolution of criminal proceedings in a fraud case. The court granted the motion, citing that all civil judicial proceedings are continued through May 1, 2020. The court further ordered that all trial-related deadlines will be re-set when the criminal proceeding has been resolved.

Knoth v. Keith, No. 5:18-cv-49-DCB-MTP (S.D. Miss. Apr. 7. 2020). The court denied a joint motion to stay, citing that “a stay of all case deadlines is inappropriate.” Further, the court declared “many discovery activities such as completion of written discovery, document review, service of expert reports and video depositions can be completed without additional health risks, and this Court is unaware of any national or state order which would prohibit all activity in this case.”

Garbutt v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, No. 8:20-cv-136-T-36JSS, 2020 WL 1476159 (M.D. Fla. Mar. 26, 2020). The defendant filed an unopposed motion to stay because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the defendant’s limited ability to access information for discovery. The court granted the motion to stay until June 1, 2020. This court found good cause to grant the motion based on the “disruption to business caused by the spread of COVID-19.” In the order, the court further opined that “[t]he situation caused by the virus makes it reasonable to stay discovery for a period of time.”

Hammett v. Sherman, No. 19-cv-605-JSL, 2020 WL 1908775 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 10, 2020). The plaintiff submitted an ex parte motion to stay all proceedings three months for medical purposes. The court noted the request was reasonable, but the motion did not comply with local rules which require the plaintiff to attempt to provide notice to the defendants. The court denied the motion without prejudice and noted the plaintiff could renew the motion after contacting opposing counsel.

Motions to Compel Depositions

Thomas v. Wallace, No. 16-572-BAJ-RLB (M.D. La. Mar. 18, 2020) The defendants filed a motion to compel the plaintiff for his deposition in Louisiana. The court denied the motion, finding the plaintiff’s economic status and the coronavirus outbreak constituted an “extreme hardship” with respect to the plaintiff’s deposition. Therefore, the court ordered the defendants to depose the plaintiff through telephone or videoconference.

Scott v. Abernathy Motorcycle Sales, Inc., No. 1:18-cv-01077-STA-jay, 2020 WL 1666945 (W.D. Tenn. Apr. 3, 2020). The defendant filed an opposed motion for leave to conduct a supplemental deposition in a products liability case. The court granted the motion, finding good cause to order the second deposition. The motion requested that the deposition take place within 14 days of the order. However, the court ordered counsel to confer and find a mutually agreeable date to take the deposition, and any alternative means to safely conduct and record the deposition.

Elsherif v. Mayo Clinic, No. 18-cv-2998-DWF-KMM, 2020 WL 1441959 (Minn. Mar. 24, 2020). The plaintiff’s motion to take the defendant’s deposition out of time due to COVID-19 was granted. In doing so, the court noted: “counsel and litigants need to be patient and understanding with one another.” The plaintiff’s reasons for requesting the extension included a need to care for his family members who are at risk for complications due to COVID-19.

Scheduling Orders

Texas Advanced Opto. Solutions, Inc. v. Renesas Electronics America, No. 4:08-cv-00451, 2020 WL 1495230 (E.D. Tex. Mar. 27, 2020). The court concluded that a new trial on damages must be conducted and ordered the parties to submit a joint scheduling order with deadlines. The court noted that with the COVID-19 pandemic, there would likely be a backlog causing the trial to be pushed further than the parties or the court would like.

Motion in Limine

Greenberg v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, No. 19-137, 2020 WL 1689876 (E.D. La. Apr. 7, 2020). The defendants submitted a motion in limine requesting the plaintiff’s untimely second expert report to be excluded at trial. The court noted the case was continued due to COVID-19, thus allowing the defendants time to review the report, but found the outbreak of COVID-19 and the related restrictions were significant impediments to any curative potential the continuance may have had. Therefore, the court granted the motion in limine.

Motion to Transfer Venue

Barton v. C.R. Bard, Inc., No. 2:19-CV-181-Z, 2020 WL 1809702 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 9, 2020). The plaintiff submitted a motion to transfer venue to the court, requesting an intra-district transfer of the case. For reasons unrelated to COVID-19, the court denied the motion. However, the court noted it was entered in the COVID-19 pandemic, and, as such, the trial dates would likely be further delayed.

Motion to Extend Time to Serve Complaint

Long v. McAfee, No. 1:19-cv-00898 (E.D. Cal. May 8, 2020). The magistrate judge recommended that the pro se action be dismissed due to the plaintiff’s failure to comply with Rule 4(m) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the plaintiffs filed objections.  The court adopted the findings and recommendations and dismissed the action noting the plaintiffs had repeatedly failed to serve the defendants before the current COVID-19 health emergency, thus the argument was not well taken.

Motion to Show Cause

Chevrestt v. Barstool Sports, Inc., No. 20-cv-1949 (S.D.N.Y. May 8, 2020). The court previously ordered the plaintiff’s counsel to produce certain records to defendants and file proof of service in advance of a settlement conference and the plaintiff’s counsel failed to comply with the order. Accordingly, the court ordered the plaintiff’s counsel to pay a civil sanction and to pay the defendant’s fees incurred in bringing the plaintiff’s non-compliance to the court’s attention. In ordering sanctions, the court noted the plaintiff’s counsel’s excuse that he failed to comply with the order because COVID-19 disrupted his workflow was “preposterous…disingenuous, distasteful, unpersuasive, and likely perjurious.”

Amador v. Saul, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, No. ED CV 19-2426-SVW (C.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2020).  The court previously warned the plaintiff that the summons and complaint must be served within 90 days and the failure to comply with the requirement may result in the dismissal of the case. The proof of service was never filed.  In ordering the plaintiff to show cause why the case should not be dismissed, the court noted that COVID-19 may have presented obstacles for the plaintiff, but the plaintiff failed to notify the court of any issues or request an extension of time.

* The information provided in this article is current as of April 24, 2020. This article was also partially updated on April 30, 2020 and May 14, 2020.  The courts are modifying orders and entering new orders frequently to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please review the court’s website to ensure you have the most current information.


[1] The orders addressed in this article represent a sampling of the orders being entered across the county.  This article is not intended to be an exhaustive compendium or thorough interpretation of the orders.

[2] https://www.alnd.uscourts.gov/sites/alnd/files/General%20Order%20-%20Court%20Operations%20During%20the%20Public%20Health%20Emergency%20Caused%20By%20the%20COVID-19%20Virus%20effective%20March%2017%2C%202020.pdf

[3] http://www.almd.uscourts.gov/general-orders/court-operations-under-covid-19

[4] https://www.alsd.uscourts.gov/news/information-regarding-coronavirus-covid-19-and-united-states-district-court

[5] https://www.alacourt.gov/docs/COV-19%20order%20FINAL.pdf

[6] https://www.alacourt.gov/docs/Administrative%20Order%20No.%203.pdf

[7] https://www.alacourt.gov/docs/Administrative%20Order%20No.%205.pdf

[8] https://www.alacourt.gov/docs/COVID-19%20Pandemic%20Emergency%20Response%20Order%20No2.pdf

[9]https://www.alacourt.gov/docs/Administrative%20Order%20Approving%20Remote%20Administration%20of%20Oaths%20to%20Witnesses%20in%20Court%20Proceedings%20and%20Depositions.pdf

[10] http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/NDGA_GeneralOrder20-01.pdf

[11] http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/NDGA_GenOrder20-01a.pdf

[12] https://www.gamd.uscourts.gov/sites/gamd/files/general-ordes/Standing%20Order%202020-01%20re%20COVID-19%20Operations%20%28003%29.pdf

[13] https://www.gasd.uscourts.gov/sites/gasd/files/MC120-004.pdf

[14] https://www.gasupreme.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CJ-Melton-amended-Statewide-Jud-Emergency-order.pdf

[15] https://www.gasupreme.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CJ_Melton_Extension_Order_signed_entered.pdf

[16] https://www.gasupreme.us/

[17] http://www.lamd.uscourts.gov/news/court-operations-curtailed-during-covid-19-outbreak-see-administrative-order-2020-1

[18] http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-orders-and-notices; http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/EDLA-GeneralOrder20-6ContinuingJuryTrialsuntilAug2020FINAL.pdf

[19] https://www.lawd.uscourts.gov/

[20] https://www.lasc.org/COVID19/Orders/2020-04-06_LASC_ORDER.pdf

[21] https://www.lasc.org/COVID19/Orders/2020-04-06_LASC_DEADLINES.pdf; https://www.lasc.org/COVID19/Orders/2020-04-22_LASC_ORDER.pdf

[22]https://www.msnd.uscourts.gov/sites/msnd/files/announcement_attachments/320MC9%20NDMS%20Order%20COVID19%20-%201.pdf

[23] https://www.mssd.uscourts.gov/sites/mssd/files/Special%20Order%20%23%202%20as%20filed.pdf

[24] https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_491588.pdf&c=91465&a=N&s=2

[25] https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_490712.pdf&c=91465&a=N&s=2

[26] https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_490703.pdf&c=91465&a=N&s=2

[27] https://courts.ms.gov/appellatecourts/docket/sendPDF.php?f=700_491602.pdf&c=91465&a=N&s=2

[28]https://www.scd.uscourts.gov/StandingOrders/Amended%20Order%20Regarding%20Court%20Operations%20in%20Response%20to%20COVID-19/Amended_Standing_Order_In_Re_Court_Operations_in_Response_to_COVID-19.pdf

[29] https://www.sccourts.org/whatsnew/displayWhatsNew.cfm?indexId=2484

[30] https://www.tned.uscourts.gov/sites/tned/files/SO-20-11.pdf; https://www.tned.uscourts.gov/sites/tned/files/SO-20-06.pdf; https://www.tned.uscourts.gov/sites/tned/files/SO-20-12.pdf

[31] https://www.tnmd.uscourts.gov/sites/tnmd/files/AO%20209%20Second%20Amended%20-%20COVID-19.pdf; https://www.tnmd.uscourts.gov/sites/tnmd/files/AO209%20-%20COVID-19%20Order%20clarifying%203.23.20%20order.pdf; https://www.tnmd.uscourts.gov/sites/tnmd/files/AO209-1st%20Amended-Court%20Operations%20Related%20to%20COVID-19.pdf; https://www.tnmd.uscourts.gov/sites/tnmd/files/AO%20209%20%20Court%20Operations%20Related%20to%20COVID-19.pdf

[32]  https://www.tnwd.uscourts.gov/pdf/adminorders/20-21.pdf

[33] http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sct_covid-19_order_4-24-2020_2.pdf?_sm_au_=iVV0f3FZ5frJHN4qFGkQjKQHL7C8J

[34] http://tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/order_-_2020-03-25t120936.486.pdf

[35] http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/sct_covid-19_order_-_3-31-2020.pdf

[36] http://www.tncourts.gov/sites/default/files/docs/executive_order_26_-_notaries.pdf?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Executive%20Order%20No.%2026&utm_campaign=%20UA-74284455-1

[37] https://www.nashvillebar.org/index.cfm?pg=COVID-19INFORMATIONCENTER

[38] http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/documents/SO13-11.pdf; http://www.txnd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/documents/COVID19.pdf

[39] https://www.txs.uscourts.gov/page/covid-19-general-and-special-orders

[40] https://www.txwd.uscourts.gov/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance/

[41] http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/goFiles/GO%2020-09%20Extension%20and%20Modification%20of%20Prior%20GOs_signed.pdf; http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/goFiles/GO%2020-03%20%20COVID-19_signed.pdf

[42] https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446056/209042.pdf

[43] https://www.txcourts.gov/media/1446315/209051.pdf

[44] https://corpusbar.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/resolution-regarding-video-conferencing.pdf

[45] https://www.justex.net/JustexDocuments/10/151st%20Special%20Standing%20Order.pdf

[46] https://www.justex.net/JustexDocuments/8/RemoteDepoOrder.pdf

[47] http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notices/Gen%20Order%202020-12%20Court%20Operations%20Updated%20Notices.pdf

[48] http://www.vawd.uscourts.gov/media/31965437/courtoperationscovid19-amended-2.pdf

[49] http://www.vawd.uscourts.gov/media/31965201/closureofclerksofficepubliccounters.pdf

[50] http://www.vawd.uscourts.gov/media/31964867/restrictionsonvisitors.pdf

[51]http://www.vacourts.gov/news/items/covid/2020_0422_scv_order_extending_declaration_of_judicial_emergency.pdf