United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
C. KEESLER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff's
“Motion For Judicial Settlement Conference And Stay Of
The Initial Attorney's Conference” (Document No.
17) filed July 26, 2019. The parties have consented to
Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), and this motion is now ripe for disposition. Having
carefully considered the motion and the record, the
undersigned will deny the motion.
New York Life Insurance Company (“Plaintiff”)
initiated this action with the filing of its
“Complaint” (Document No. 1) against Defendant
Cynthia L. McCullough (“Defendant”) on March 9,
2018. On May 21, 2018, Defendant confirmed she wished to
participate in the Court's Pro Se Settlement Assistance
Program (“PSAP”). (Document No. 9). Margaret
Maloney was appointed as Program Counsel for Defendant on
February 12, 2019. (Document No. 11).
parties and their counsel, including Ms. Maloney,
participated in a mediated settlement conference on April 9,
2019. (Document No. 13). The mediator, Amy L. Cox Gruendel,
reported on May 21, 2019 that the parties' attempts to
settle this matter reached an impasse. Id.
25, 2019, the Court provided Notice to the parties that they
were required to conduct an Initial Attorney's Conference
and file a Certification Of Initial Attorney's Conference
by July 15, 2019, pursuant to Local Rule 16.1(a).
16, 2019, the Court received a letter from the pro
se Defendant requesting a stay of the Initial
Attorney's Conference. (Document No. 15). The Court
denied Defendant's request and ordered that the parties
conduct an Initial Attorney's Conference by August 1,
2019, and file a Certificate of Initial Attorney's
Conference within five (5) days. (Document No. 16).
pending “Motion For Judicial Settlement Conference And
Stay Of The Initial Attorney's Conference”
(Document No. 17) was filed by Margaret Maloney on July 26,
2019. The pending motion requests “a judicial
settlement conference before a magistrate judge and an order
to stay the Initial Attorneys' Conference pending the
outcome of the judicial settlement conference.”
(Document No. 17, p. 1).
parties' “Certification And Report Of F.R.C.P.
26(f) Conference And Proposed Discovery Plan” (Document
No. 19) was filed on August 6, 2019. Also on August 6, 2019,
“Margaret Behringer Maloney of the law firm Maloney Law
& Associates, PLLC” filed a “Notice Of
Limited Appearance.” (Document No. 18). Ms. Maloney
suggests that she is appearing “for purposes of
assisting with a second mediation and to assist Defendant in
responding to any further settlement offers in this
case” and that “[a]ll further notices, pleadings,
and other papers should be served on the undersigned counsel
[Ms. Maloney] as set forth below.” (Document No. 18).
Notably, Ms. Maloney participated along with Defendant in the
Initial Attorney's Conference. See (Document No.
19, p. 1).
Response…” (Document No. 20) to the pending
motion was filed on August 9, 2019, and Defendant's
“Reply…” (Document No. 21) was filed on
August 12, 2019. As such, and noting the parties'
“Joint Stipulation of Consent to Exercise Jurisdiction
by a United States Magistrate Judge” (Document No. 22),
the pending motion is ripe for disposition.
careful review of the record of this case and the
parties' briefs on the pending motion, the undersigned
will respectfully deny Defendant's request. To the extent
Defendant seeks a stay of the Initial Attorneys'
Conference, that request is now moot since the parties have
filed certification of such a conference along with a
proposed discovery plan. See (Document No. 19). As
to a Judicial Settlement Conference, Plaintiff argues that
nothing has changed since the parties recently mediated the
case and Plaintiff contends it would not be a productive use
of the Court's, or the parties', time and resources
to have a settlement conference now. (Document No. 20). The
undersigned appreciates and respects the efforts of the
parties and counsel to date to resolve this matter without
further Court intervention. In particular, the Court is
grateful for Ms. Maloney's pro bono representation at the
mediation through the PSAP program. This successful program
is not possible without volunteer attorneys such as Ms.
it appears at this stage that the parties are at an impasse
in their on-again, off-again settlement discussions. Under
all these circumstances, the Court will decline to host a
Judicial Settlement Conference at this time. However, counsel
for the parties, including Ms. Maloney, are directed to meet
and confer through a telephone conference to discuss
settlement one more time, on or before August 28,
2019. Following that conference, counsel shall file
a Status Report. In addition, Ms. Maloney shall confirm with
the Court whether she intends to fully participate in this
matter as Defendant's counsel or seeks to withdraw as
counsel pursuant to Local Rule 83.1(f).
Court intends to promptly file a “Pretrial Order And
Case Management Plan.”
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Plaintiffs “Motion
For Judicial Settlement Conference And Stay Of The Initial
Attorney's Conference” ...