Original petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court order denying a motion to dismiss a complaint under NRCP 16.1(e) .
Robison, Belaustegui, Sharp & Low and Mark G. Simons, Reno, for Petitioners.
Jeffrey K. Rahbeck, Zephyr Cove, for Real Parties in Interest.
BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.
NRCP 16.1(b) directs plaintiffs in civil cases to meet and confer with defendants concerning how to best manage the litigation and discovery. Thereafter, a report on the case conference must be filed. NRCP 16.1(c). When a plaintiff fails to meet the deadlines for complying with these provisions, a district
court may dismiss the complaint without prejudice under NRCP 16.1(e).
In this original writ proceeding, we discuss the extent to which a district court has discretion to deny an NRCP 16.1(e) motion to dismiss and to order the parties to meet and confer beyond the rule's deadlines. We conclude that a district court may consider its own internal delays when deciding an NRCP 16.1(e) motion to dismiss, and that, here, the district court properly exercised its discretion by extending the deadlines of NRCP 16.1 after finding that compelling and extraordinary circumstances warranted the extension. Accordingly, we deny the petition for a writ of mandamus.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 6, 2011, real party in interest Francis A. Ellingwood, as trustee for the Francis A. Ellingwood Trust, and other plaintiffs (collectively, Ellingwood) filed a complaint for a deficiency judgment against petitioners Charles Dornbach and Jake Huber (collectively, Dornbach) in the Churchill County district court. On February 27, 2012, Dornbach filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to NRCP 12(b)(5). Due to the death of Churchill County's only sitting district judge and related delays in the district court, the hearing on the NRCP 12(b)(5) motion did not occur until January 7, 2013, and the motion was eventually denied. While the motion remained pending, Dornbach did not file an answer to Ellingwood's complaint.
On December 6, 2012, 284 days after Dornbach filed the NRCP 12(b)(5) motion, Dornbach filed a motion to dismiss the case without prejudice due to Ellingwood's failure to comply with NRCP 16.1(e), which allows a district court to dismiss a case if the plaintiff fails to hold an early case conference and file the case conference report within set deadlines. The district court implicitly recognized that Ellingwood failed to comply with the rule but denied Dornbach's motion, explaining that the death of the district judge and the significant resulting delays constituted compelling and extraordinary ...