United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
WILLIAM J. PAATALO, Plaintiff,
FIRST AMERICAN TITLE COMPANY OF MONTANA, INC., et al. Defendants.
CAROLYN S. OSTBY, Magistrate Judge.
This action concerns transactions involving a home loan. Six motions are pending. This Order addresses two motions: (1) motion to file a separate "Statement of Undisputed Facts" ( ECF 41), and (2) motion to amend the caption ( ECF 43 ). Both motions will be granted for the reasons set forth below.
On December 3, 2013, Stillwater Abstract Company, d/b/a Stillwater Abstract & Title Co., Inc. ("Stillwater") and Shelly Noe ("Noe") filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF 27) and Brief in Support (ECF 29). The brief contains a narrative of undisputed facts supporting the motion, but Stillwater and Noe did not file a separate statement of undisputed facts ("SUF") as required by Local Rule 56.1(a)(3).
On January 6, 2014, Stillwater and Noe filed a motion to file their SUF as a separate document to comply with Local Rule 56.1. ECF 41. Stillwater has also filed a motion to amend the caption to reflect its correct legal name. ECF 43. Paatalo objects to both motions.
II. MOTION TO FILE STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED FACTS
A. Parties' Arguments
Defendants argue that the relief they seek is authorized by Rule 56(e)(1) and the Court's inherent authority to correct the form of pleadings. Defts' Br. in Support (ECF 42) at 2. Defendants further argue that this relief will not prejudice Paatalo because the SUF they seek to file, attached to their brief at ECF 42-1, is substantively identical to the facts set forth in their summary judgment brief. Id.
Paatalo has filed a single brief opposing both this motion and Stillwater's motion to amend the caption. As to the motion to file a separate SUF, Paatalo argues that the motion should be denied because Stillwater and Noe failed to seek leave of Court "per MRCP 15(a)(2)" prior to filing its motion, and because Stillwater is a "stranger" to this action with no authority to file the motion. Pltf's Br. (ECF 47) at 2-3, 9-10.
Local Rule 56.1(a) provides that a party filing a motion for summary judgment must also file a Statement of Undisputed Facts separately from the motion and brief. L.R. 56.1(a)(1)-(3). Stillwater and Noe did not initially comply with this rule. But they represent - and the Court has confirmed - that the proposed SUF is identical in substance to the section of their brief titled "UNDISPUTED FACTS", except that the SUF has been serially numbered and a citation to the Court's electronic record has been added.
A district court's "local rule imposing a requirement of form must not be enforced in a way that causes a party to lose any right because of a nonwillful failure to comply." Rule 83(a)(2). There is no indication that Defendants' failure to file a separate SUF was willful. The Court can discern no delay or prejudice that will result from granting this motion. Defendants' requested relief is appropriate.
III. MOTION TO AMEND ...