The Fifth Circuit has again tried to rein in Judge Lynn Hughes of the Southern District in Houston. In Bailey v. KS Management Services, No. 21-20335 (5th Cir. 5/26/2022), Judge Hughes again prohibited discovery by the plaintiff. As the Fifth Circuit noted, this is the third time some plaintiff has appealed a no-discovery order from Judge Hughes. Judge Hughes did require the employer to provide certain information to the plaintiff. He also ordered the plaintiff and the defendant to file a joint chronology of events. He told the parties to make the chronology objective and factual. “Legal posturing, abstractions and quibbling will be crushed,” said Judge Hughes.
Of course, such orders totally subvert the Federal rules of civil procedure which allow discovery by both parties in accordance with each parties’ view of the case. The Fifth Circuit criticized Judge Hughes’ one-size fits all paradigm of “rough justice.” The judge flat said he would “crush” efforts to implement more focused discovery.
Judge Hughes refused to allow Bailey to conduct any discovery until she had been deposed. KS Management did not depose Bailey, likely to avoid the discovery which would follow. Bailey could not conduct any depositions of her own. The employer moved for summary judgment. With no real evidence, Bailey lost, as was fore-ordained.
The higher court noted that this decision is “deja vu all over again.” It is indeed. Judge Hughes’ orders prohibiting discovery and casting such narrow limits approach whacko rulings. These Judge Roy Bean type rulings do not work in the modern world. Yet, he persists. The Fifth Circuit has removed Judge Hughes from lawsuits six times. It has now reversed his no-discovery orders three times.
See ABA Bar Journal report here.