United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
dispute arises from the alleged breach of a long-term lodging
agreement. Plaintiff Andrea Peterson alleges that she was
wrongfully evicted from her hotel room, where she had been
living for several years. She brings this pro se
suit alleging numerous causes of action, including breach of
contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
violations of her civil rights. Before this Court is Ms.
Peterson's objection (ECF No. 144) to a ruling by
Magistrate Judge Clark (ECF No. 143). That ruling (ECF No.
143) denied Ms. Peterson's motion to strike (ECF No. 137)
and terminated Ms. Peterson's motion for extension of
time to file response/reply (ECF No. 142). For the reasons
set forth below, the decision of Magistrate Judge Clark is
District Court will reverse a Magistrate Judge's decision
on a non-dispositive motion only if it is "clearly
erroneous or contrary to law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); L.
Civ. R. 72.1(c)(1)(A). This Court has frequently spoken of
the discretion granted to the Magistrate Judge in
non-dispositive matters. Where the appeal seeks review of a
matter within the core competence of the Magistrate Judge an
abuse of discretion standard is appropriate. See Cooper
Hosp./Univ. Med. Ctr. v. Sullivan, 183 F.R.D. 119, 127
(D.N.J. 1998); Deluccia v. City of Paterson, No.
9-cv-703, 2012 WL 909548, at *1 (D.N.J. Mar. 15, 2012).
"This deferential standard is especially appropriate
where the Magistrate Judge has managed this case from the
outset and developed a thorough knowledge of the
proceedings." Lithuanian Commerce Corp., Ltd. v.
Sara Lee Hosiery, 177 F.R.D. 205, 214 (D.N.J. 1997)
(internal quotations omitted); see Deluccia, 2012 WL
909548, at *1 (same). Abuse of discretion review, as a
practical matter, incorporates plenary review of legal
questions. See Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81,
Motion to strike
February 28, 2019, Ms. Peterson filed a Rule 72 appeal of a
ruling by Magistrate Judge Clark. (ECF No. 131). On March 13,
2018, defendants filed a response to Ms. Peterson's
appeal. (ECF No. 132). On March 29, 2018, Ms. Peterson filed
a motion to strike (ECF no. 137) defendants' response.
Ms. Peterson argues that defendants have no explicit right
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a) to file a
response and therefore the Court should strike it. Local Rule
72.1 provides, in relevant part:
The party filing an appeal shall provide to the Court a
transcript of that portion of the hearing before the
Magistrate Judge wherein findings of fact were made, no later
than 14 days before the return date of the motion. Any
party opposing the appeal shall file a responsive brief at
least 14 days prior to the motion day. Should the parry
appealing wish to reply to any responsive brief filed by the
opposition, that party must file a reply brief at least seven
days prior to the motion day.
(emphasis added). Local Rule 72.1 clearly states that a party
opposing the appeal (in this case, the defendants) may
respond to an appeal at least fourteen days prior to the
filed their response (ECF No. 132) on March 12, 2018. The
motion date for the appeal was set for April 2, 2018. (ECF
No. 131). Defendants thus filed their response more than
fourteen days in advance of the motion day. Under Local Rule
72.1, their motion was timely. I agree with Magistrate Judge
Clark that defendants' response was timely and
appropriate. (ECF No. 143). Magistrate Judge Clark's
determination is thus affirmed.
Termination of motion for extension of time to file
April 19, 2018, Ms. Peterson filed a motion for extension to
time to file response/reply. (ECF No. 142). She requested
that her response to defendants' motion for summary
judgment be due "twenty-one (21) days from the date the
court issues order on Plaintiff Rule 72 Motion and Motion to
Strike." (ECF No. 142, p. 1). When Magistrate Judge
Clark issued his order on plaintiffs Rule 72 motion and
motion to strike, he provided her with 30 days from the date
of that order to file an opposition to defendants' motion
for summary judgment. (ECF No. 143). Magistrate Judge Clark
terminated plaintiffs motion for a 21-day extension and
granted her a 30-day extension. (ECF No. 143). I do not find
this order clearly erroneous or contrary to law. In fact, Ms.
Peterson received a greater time extension than she
requested. Magistrate Judge Clark's ruling (ECF No. 143)
is thus affirmed.
reasons stated above, Magistrate Judge Clark's order (ECF
No. 143) is affirmed. In light of Ms. Peterson's pro se
status, however, the Court will give her one more chance to
cease quibbling over procedural matters and address the
substance. She shall have 30 days to respond to