OPINION & ORDER
MARK D. CLARKE, Magistrate Judge.
On April 17, 2017, the Court ordered the parties to confer regarding a proposed briefing schedule. The parties agree on most scheduling issues, and their proposed schedules are largely similar; however, the conservation organizations and federal defendants disagree with each other on a procedure for resolving disputes over the completeness of the administrative record, as well as the number of summary judgment response briefs federal defendants should be allowed to file and when, exactly, each parties' briefs will be due. The Court adopts aspects of both proposals and sets forth the consolidated cases' briefing schedule below.
I. Procedure for resolving administrative-record disputes
First, the Court notes all parties agree that issues over completeness of the administrative record should be addressed first through ofut-of-court negotiation between the parties. Moreover, all parties agree that motions challenging "threshold issues" over completeness of the administrative record should be filed prior to any party moving for summary judgment. Finally, all parties agree on the dates any negotiations and/or motions pertaining to threshold administrative record issues must be completed or filed by. The Court agrees and adopts the parties' proposed dates, as set forth below.
Next, the conservation organizations argue all plaintiffs should be entitled to file with their summary judgment briefs any extra-record materials not dealt with at the "threshold" stage and that they wish the Court to consider on summary judgment; they argue this would streamline the process because "parties can usually only demonstrate that the Court should consider extra-record materials by reference to their arguments on the merits and the facts of the case." Proposed Briefing Schedule, at 4. Federal defendants, by contrast, contend disputes regarding extra-record materials should be addressed through separate briefing prior to summary judgment.
The Court agrees with the conservation organizations. It is not until the parties have completely reviewed the evidence and refined and narrowed their arguments that the full extent of extra-record materials, if any, a party will ask the Court to consider can truly be known. Until such time, attempting to assess what extra-record materials may be necessary to adequately set out an argument on summary judgment would be highly speculative and result in a waste of judicial—not to mention party—resources, as the Court would almost certainly be asked to address the acceptability of extra-record materials that would ultimately prove unnecessary for summary judgment purposes. In addition, a requirement that all issues of extra-record materials be addressed before any party moves for summary judgment necessarily prohibits a party from seeking to supplement the record once summary judgment has commenced, no matter the good-faith reason for doing so.
Such a restrictive outcome seems unnecessary and less efficient than the alternative. And, indeed, it is not how this Court has dealt with the issue in the past. See Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Wagner, Civ. No. 08-302-CL, 2009 WL 2176049, at *7-9 (D. Or. Jun. 29, 2009) (after stating that the Court may inquire into materials outside the administrative record when necessary to explain an agency's action, the Court admitted and analyzed a declaration containing extra-record materials that was submitted by the federal defendants in their summary judgment reply brief). Finally, a procedure that entitles parties to file any extra-record materials they wish the Court to consider on summary judgment with their briefs runs in tandem with the District's practice of handling many evidentiary issues on summary judgment. See LR 56-1 (b).
Accordingly, the Court holds that parties are not foreclosed from seeking to supplement the record once summary judgment briefing begins. That said, however, as federal defendants rightfully point out, the party who seeks to admit extra-record materials has the initial burden of demonstrating to the Court why the materials should be considered.
II. Number of briefs per party
Next, the conservation organizations and federal defendants disagree over the number of summary judgment response briefs federal defendants should be entitled to file. Four cases have been consolidated in this matter, and the conservation organizations maintain that plaintiffs in each case should be entitled to file a separate motion for summary judgment with respect to each case. They then argue, however, that, for the sake of judicial efficiency, federal defendants' response and cross-motion for summary judgment should be confined to a single brief. Federal defendants assert that they, like plaintiffs, should be entitled to separate briefs, "as opposed to a single brief addressing the arguments of plaintiffs in four separate cases[,] on account of the differences in the claims brought in each case, as well as the ability to keep the cases separate in the event of appeal." Proposed Briefing Schedule, at 8-9.
The Court agrees with federal defendants that they, like plaintiffs, should be entitled to file separate briefs. Allowing federal defendants to file separate briefs comports with notions of equity; indeed, providing one set of parties with the privilege of submitting four separate briefs, while at the same time limiting the responding parties to a single brief that will inevitably contain some restrictive page limit necessarily prejudices the responding parties by restricting the thoroughness or adequacy of their response and cross-motion for summary judgment.
With that said, however, the Court thinks the most logical path forward is to provide all parties with the option of submitting either a single brief or separate briefs in moving, responding, or replying to summary judgment motions. As the parties themselves acknowledge, "[u]ntil a party actually receives the briefs to which it must respond," or determines the arguments it must make in initially moving for summary judgment, "it cannot be determined how to most effectively and efficiently" structure their motions or responses. Proposed Briefing Schedule, at 12. For instance', while preparing to move for summary judgment, plaintiffs may decide that a single summary judgment brief is more efficient and more persuasive than four separate briefs; likewise, after taking into account the degree of commonality between the four cases, federal defendants may ultimately conclude that a single response brief is most logical. Accordingly, after taking into account matters of equity and efficiency, the Court believes it most sensible for the parties to make their own determination on the number of summary judgment briefs—opening, response, and reply—to file in this matter. Federal defendants will therefore not be restricted to a single response brief, as requested by the conservation organizations; instead, should they choose, federal defendants, like plaintiffs, will be allowed to file separate briefs addressing summary judgment in all four of the consolidated cases.
Finally, the conservation organizations ask that if the Court allows federal defendants to file separate briefs, the Court should then extend the deadline for plaintiffs to file their respective replies in support of their motions for summary judgment and responses to the federal defendants' cross-motions for summary judgment; the conservation organizations argue this additional time will be necessary to address the increased number of briefs. The Court believes federal defendants' staggered approach, set forth in the briefing schedule below, sufficiently addresses plaintiffs' concern. Accordingly, the Court adopts this approach.
III. Briefing Schedule
The briefing schedule for the four consolidated cases is as follows:
Page limits for all briefs will be in accordance with the local rules, unless a party or parties choose to consolidate separate briefs into one single brief, in which case, that party or for an extension of the page limit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.