(a)Meeting of the parties before scheduling conference. As early as practicable before the prehearing scheduling conference described in paragraph (b) of this section, but in any event no later than 5 days after the answer is filed by the last answering respondent, counsel for the parties shall meet to discuss the nature and basis of their claims and defenses and the possibilities for a prompt settlement or resolution of the case. The parties shall also agree, if possible, on—
(1) A proposed discovery plan specifically addressing a schedule for depositions of fact witnesses, the production of documents and electronically stored information, and the timing of expert discovery pursuant to § 3.31A. The parties' agreement regarding electronically stored information should include the scope of and a specified time period for the exchange of such information that is subject to §§ 3.31(b)(2), 3.31(c), and 3.37(a), and the format for the disclosure of such information, consistent with §§ 3.31(c)(3) and 3.37(c);
(2) A preliminary estimate of the time required for the evidentiary hearing; and
(3) Any other matters to be determined at the scheduling conference.
(b)Scheduling conference. Not later than 10 days after the answer is filed by the last answering respondent, the Administrative Law Judge shall hold a scheduling conference. At the scheduling conference, counsel for the parties shall be prepared to address:
(1) Their factual and legal theories;
(2) The current status of any pending motions;
(3) A schedule of proceedings that is consistent with the date of the evidentiary hearing set by the Commission;
(4) Steps taken to preserve evidence relevant to the issues raised by the claims and defenses;
(5) The scope of anticipated discovery, any limitations on discovery, and a proposed discovery plan, including the disclosure of electronically stored information;
(6) Issues that can be narrowed by agreement or by motion, suggestions to expedite the presentation of evidence at trial, and any request to bifurcate issues, claims or defenses; and
(7) Other possible agreements or steps that may aid in the just and expeditious disposition of the proceeding and to avoid unnecessary cost.
(c)Prehearing scheduling order.
(1) Not later than 2 days after the scheduling conference, the Administrative Law Judge shall enter an order that sets forth the results of the conference and establishes a schedule of proceedings that will permit the evidentiary hearing to commence on the date set by the Commission, including a plan of discovery that addresses the deposition of fact witnesses, timing of expert discovery, and the production of documents and electronically stored information, dates for the submission and hearing of motions, the specific method by which exhibits shall be numbered or otherwise identified and marked for the record, and the time and place of a final prehearing conference. The Commission may, upon a showing of good cause, order a later date for the evidentiary hearing than the one specified in the complaint.
(2) The Administrative Law Judge may, upon a showing of good cause, grant a motion to extend any deadline or time specified in this scheduling order other than the date of the evidentiary hearing. Such motion shall set forth the total period of extensions, if any, previously obtained by the moving party. In determining whether to grant the motion, the Administrative Law Judge shall consider any extensions already granted, the length of the proceedings to date, the complexity of the issues, and the need to conclude the evidentiary hearing and render an initial decision in a timely manner. The Administrative Law Judge shall not rule on ex parte motions to extend the deadlines specified in the scheduling order, or modify such deadlines solely upon stipulation or agreement of counsel.
(d)Meeting prior to final prehearing conference. Counsel for the parties shall meet before the final prehearing conference described in paragraph (e) of this section to discuss the matters set forth therein in preparation for the conference.
(e)Final prehearing conference. As close to the commencement of the evidentiary hearing as practicable, the Administrative Law Judge shall hold a final prehearing conference, which counsel shall attend in person, to submit any proposed stipulations as to law, fact, or admissibility of evidence, exchange exhibit and witness lists, and designate testimony to be presented by deposition. At this conference, the Administrative Law Judge shall also resolve any outstanding evidentiary matters or pending motions (except motions for summary decision) and establish a final schedule for the evidentiary hearing.
(f)Additional prehearing conferences and orders. The Administrative Law Judge shall hold additional prehearing and status conferences or enter additional orders as may be needed to ensure the just and expeditious disposition of the proceeding and to avoid unnecessary cost. Such conferences shall be held in person to the extent practicable.
(g)Public access and reporting. Prehearing conferences shall be public unless the Administrative Law Judge determines in his or her discretion that the conference (or any part thereof) shall be closed to the public. The Administrative Law Judge shall have discretion to determine whether a prehearing conference shall be stenographically reported.