United States Court of Appeals


Argued January 18, 2002 Decided July 2, 2002 

No. 01-7016

Ned Chartering & Trading, Inc., 


Republic of Pakistan and 
Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 

Appeal from the United States District Court 
for the District of Columbia 
(No. 98cv02626)

Nicholas H. Cobbs argued the cause and filed the briefs for 

Paul M. Tschirhart argued the cause for appellee. With 
him on the brief was Heather M. Spring.

Before: Edwards, Henderson and Garland, Circuit 

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge Garland.

Garland, Circuit Judge: Plaintiff Ned Chartering & Trad-
ing, Inc. brought this case against the Republic of Pakistan 
and its Ministry of Food and Agriculture, contending that 
Pakistan was required to pay it the proceeds of wheat ship-
ments to which plaintiff was entitled as assignee of a mari-
time contract. The district court granted summary judgment 
against Pakistan for $268,000 plus interest that Pakistan had 
instead paid to the assignor of the contract. Pakistan con-
tends that the district court erred in not delaying its ruling on 
the motion for summary judgment in order to give it an 
opportunity to take further discovery. Because the district 
court did not abuse its discretion in ruling without extending 
the discovery period, we affirm.


In 1993, the Republic of Pakistan entered into a maritime 
contract, known as a "charter party," with Horsebridge En-
terprises, Ltd. of Gibraltar for the shipment of wheat from 
Turkey to Pakistan. Ned Chartering, a Washington, D.C. 
corporation, acted as shipbroker and loaned Horsebridge the 
money to charter the vessels that were to transport the 
wheat. The loan agreement contained an assignment, where-
by in exchange for the loan it received from Ned Chartering, 
Horsebridge assigned its right to the proceeds of the charter 
party to Ned. Pakistan was to make its charter party 
payments through a letter of credit drawn in favor of Ned.

Pursuant to the charter party and assignment, as the wheat 
arrived Pakistan paid 90% of the amount it owed Horsebridge 
directly to Ned Chartering. Pakistan retained 10%, pending 
"necessary adjustment" for demurrage and additional freight 
charges. Rider Clauses to Charter Party at 6 (J.A. at 55). 
Before final payment was made, disputes arose between 
Pakistan and Horsebridge concerning the amount of the 
adjustments, and between Horsebridge and Ned Chartering 
concerning the amounts due between them. Both Ned Char-
tering and Horsebridge pressed Pakistan for payment, and 

Horsebridge assured Pakistan that it would indemnify the 
Republic against any claims made by Ned. Ultimately, Hor-
sebridge persuaded Pakistan to pay it the amount still owed 
for the final delivery of the wheat, which totaled $268,000. 
By the time Pakistan paid Horsebridge, on or about October 
31, 1995, the letter of credit had expired.

Ned Chartering initially sued Horsebridge, contending that 
the latter owed it for payment due under the loan agreement. 
Although Ned prevailed, Horsebridge turned out to be judg-
ment proof. Ned then turned to Pakistan. On October 29, 
1998, it sued Pakistan and its Ministry of Food and Agricul-
ture for failing to pay it the final installment under the 
assignment agreement. Pakistan, in turn, filed a third-party 
complaint against Horsebridge. Pakistan, however, was un-
able to serve process on Horsebridge, and the district court 
struck the third-party complaint on March 21, 2000. In the 
meantime, the parties conducted some discovery, including 
the exchange of interrogatories and document requests.

On May 11, 2000, Ned Chartering filed a motion for 
summary judgment against Pakistan. Pakistan opposed sum-
mary judgment on two grounds: (1) that by the time the final 
proceeds were paid, the assignment was void because the 
letter of credit had expired; and (2) that it needed time to 
conduct further discovery. The district court rejected the 
first contention because, under the unambiguous language of 
the assignment agreement, Pakistan's obligation to pay was 
continuing and the letter of credit was only one means of 
making payment. The court rejected the second contention 
for two reasons: Pakistan had "already had sufficient discov-
ery," and had "failed to demonstrate how the further discov-
ery [it] request[ed] would produce any issues of material 
fact." Ned Chartering & Trading, Inc. v. Republic of Paki-
stan, No. 98-CV-2626, mem. op. at 8 (J.A. at 176) (D.D.C. 
Dec. 4, 2000). Accordingly, the court granted summary judg-
ment in favor of Ned Chartering.


In this court, Pakistan has abandoned its argument based 
on the expiration of the letter of credit, and relies instead on 

its second contention, that the district court should not have 
ruled against it without permitting time for further discov-
ery.1 We review such claims solely for abuse of discretion by 
the district court. See, e.g., Carey Canada, Inc. v. Columbia 
Cas. Co., 940 F.2d 1548, 1559 (D.C. Cir. 1991). We conclude 
that either of the two reasons given by the district court for 
denying further discovery was sufficient to justify its decision, 
and that neither represents an abuse of discretion.


The district court concluded that the more than eighteen 
months that passed between the date Ned Chartering filed its 
complaint and the date it filed its motion for summary 
judgment were sufficient for the parties to complete discov-
ery. Although summary judgment should only be entered 
"after adequate time for discovery," Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986), we grant district courts great 
latitude in determining how much time is adequate, and would 
be hard pressed to find that limiting discovery to eighteen 
months was an abuse of discretion in this case. Pakistan 
sought an extension of time "in order to identify any defenses 
Horsebridge may have had against" Ned Chartering. Ned 
Chartering, mem. op. at 8 (J.A. at 176). "Specifically," Paki-
stan "asserted a need to depose the president of [Ned Char-
tering], Nadeem Ikramullah." Appellants' Br. at 14. Paki-
stan offers no reason to believe that it should have taken 
more than eighteen months to accomplish that kind of discov-
ery. See Naartex Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 722 F.2d 779, 
788 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (holding that a district court does not 
abuse its discretion in denying permission to conduct addi-
tional discovery when the party has had ample opportunity to 
take discovery).

1 Pakistan also contends that the district court should not have 
decided the summary judgment motion without holding an oral 
hearing. The decision to hold an oral hearing is committed to "the 
discretion of the court," D.D.C. Local Rule 7.1(f); see United States 
v. BCCI Holdings (Luxembourg), S.A., 961 F. Supp. 287, 292 n.7 
(D.D.C. 1997), and we discern no abuse of discretion here.

Pakistan does note that, at the time Ned Chartering moved 
for summary judgment, the court had not yet set a discovery 
deadline. The absence of a deadline, however, was not a 
license to delay completion until one was set. Moreover, on 
April 20, 2000--weeks before the filing of the motion for 
summary judgment--the parties filed a joint report pursuant 
to Local Rule 16.3, which requires counsel to meet and 
discuss "a date for completion of all discovery." That joint 
report established a schedule for the filing of the summary 
judgment motion: Ned Chartering was to file for summary 
judgment within the next two weeks, Pakistan was to have 
thirty days to file an opposition, and Ned was to have fifteen 
days in which to reply. See Joint Rep. of the Parties, 
Appellee's Br. app. 2 at 2. The report declared that "[t]hese 
dates are mutually acceptable to the parties," and recited that 
"both parties have already taken some discovery and ... no 
material facts remain in dispute." Id. at 2-3. The court 
adhered to this schedule, and Pakistan therefore has no cause 
for complaint.

On appeal, Pakistan contends that, because "attorneys are 
not clairvoyant," it could not foresee the discovery it would 
need until it saw Ned Chartering's summary judgment mo-
tion. Appellants' Reply Br. at 10. But Pakistan did not 
mention the limits of its attorneys' predictive powers when it 
agreed to the schedule of the joint report, does not now cite 
anything in Ned's motion that its attorneys did not anticipate, 
and suggests no reason why the relevance of "any defenses 
that Horsebridge may have had against the plaintiff" was not 
as apparent before Ned filed as it was afterwards.

Pakistan also notes that the district court did not strike its 
third-party complaint against Horsebridge until March 21, 
2000, and contends that "[i]t made no sense for Pakistan to 
conduct discovery concerning [Ned Chartering's] transactions 
with Horsebridge while there remained a prospect that Hor-
sebridge would become a party to the action." Appellants' 
Br. at 15. Pakistan does not explain why it "made no sense" 
to conduct that discovery before learning whether it would be 
able to join Horsebridge. If Ned Chartering's transactions 
with Horsebridge afforded Pakistan a defense to Ned's action 

on the assignment, presumably they did so regardless of 
whether Horsebridge was a third-party defendant. And even 
if conducting discovery before the court ruled on the third-
party complaint did not make sense, Pakistan does not ex-
plain why it did not initiate discovery during the six weeks 
that passed between the time the court struck the third-party 
complaint and the date Ned Chartering filed for summary 
judgment--nor why it failed to seek more time in the joint 

For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the district 
court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Pakistan 
had already had sufficient time to complete the discovery it 
needed to defend against plaintiff's summary judgment mo-


The district court also denied Pakistan's request for a 
discovery extension on the ground that it had "failed to 
demonstrate how the further discovery [it] request[ed] would 
produce any issues of material fact." That is certainly an 
appropriate ground upon which to deny a discovery request. 
See Moore v. United States, 213 F.3d 705, 710 n. 3 (D.C. Cir. 
2000) (holding that "a district court may deny discovery 
requests when additional facts are not necessary to resolve 
the summary judgment motion"); cf. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f) 
(providing that a court "may order a continuance to permit 
... discovery to be had," if it should "appear from the 
affidavits of a party opposing the motion that the party 
cannot ... present by affidavit facts essential to justify the 
party's opposition"). And we agree that it was applicable 

Under District of Columbia law, the assignment of rights 
under a contract creates an interest in the assignee, and any 
party that previously had an obligation to the assignor under 
the contract thereafter becomes obligated to the assignee and 
liable to it for failure to fulfill that obligation. See District of 
Columbia v. Thomas Funding Corp., 593 A.2d 1030, 1033-34 
(D.C. 1991); see also Restatement (Second) of Contracts 

s 317 (1979). Accordingly, Ned Chartering contended that, 
because Pakistan was the obligor under the charter party, 
Horsebridge's assignment of the proceeds of that contract to 
Ned obligated Pakistan to pay it those proceeds. At issue 
here is Pakistan's request for discovery related to "any 
defenses Horsebridge may have had against" Ned Charter-
ing. Ned Chartering, mem. op. at 8 (J.A. at 176). As the 
district court noted, Pakistan sought this discovery on "the 
assumption that [it] would be able to utilize such defenses 
against" Ned as well. Id. at 8-9. But Pakistan offered the 
court no grounds for concluding that this assumption was 
correct. Id. at 9.

In support of the assumption that it could assert against 
Ned Chartering any defenses Horsebridge had against Ned, 
Pakistan cited a maxim of District of Columbia contract law: 
"It is well settled that an assignee of a non-negotiable chose 
in action acquires no rights superior to those held by his 
assignor and is generally subject to any setoff available to the 
obligor against the assignor." United States Nat'l Bank v. 
Madison Nat'l Bank, 355 F. Supp. 165, 169 (D.D.C. 1973). 
But as the district court concluded, while this maxim is 
supported by the cases Pakistan cited,2 it "lends no support to 
the defendant['s] arguments." Ned Chartering, mem. op. at 9 
(J.A. at 177). That is so because in this particular play the 
parties' roles are as follows: Ned Chartering is the assignee, 
Horsebridge the assignor, and Pakistan the obligor. Hence, 
the above maxim establishes only that Ned Chartering (the 
assignee) took no rights against Pakistan (the obligor) superi-
or to those held by Horsebridge (the assignor), which means 
that Ned is generally subject to any defense available to 
Pakistan against Horsebridge. See Madison Nat'l Bank, 355 
F. Supp. at 169. Although this would make Pakistan's 
defenses against Horsebridge relevant, Pakistan did not seek 

2 See Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 7 (J.A. at 121) (citing 
Rittenberg v. Donohoe Const. Co., 426 A.2d 338, 341 (D.C. 1981); 
General Elec. Credit Corp. v. Security Bank, 244 A.2d 920, 923 
(D.C. 1968); Hudson Supply & Equip. Co. v. Home Factors Corp., 
210 A.2d 837, 838 (D.C. 1965); United States v. Griffin, 707 F.2d 
1477 (D.C. Cir. 1983)).

discovery of such defenses--presumably because it already 
knew its own defenses. However, as the district court rightly 
concluded, neither the maxim cited by Pakistan nor any of the 
cited cases made relevant the discovery of Horsebridge's 
defenses--the only discovery that Pakistan claimed to be 

On appeal, Pakistan argues that the district court erred 
because it erroneously construed the assignment of the char-
ter party as "an absolute assignment," when it actually "func-
tioned as a security interest" for the underlying loan from 
Ned Chartering to Horsebridge. Appellants' Br. at 11. On 
this theory, Pakistan contends that it was relevant to discover 
whether Horsebridge had paid Ned in full for the loan. If 
Horsebridge had paid Ned, that payment assertedly would 
have redeemed Horsebridge's collateral and left Ned without 
an interest in the proceeds of the charter party. Id. at 12 
(citing D.C. Code s 28:9-506; Applied Cos. v. United States, 
144 F.3d 1470, 1477 (Fed. Cir. 1998)).

As might be expected, Ned Chartering disputes Pakistan's 
factual assertion, contending that the assignment was in fact 
"an absolute transfer of property rights," rather than a mere 
security interest. Appellee's Br. at 10 (quoting the assign-
ment agreement, J.A. at 78, as transferring "all right, title 
and interest" in all proceeds payable to Horsebridge under 
the charter party). We need not resolve this dispute. Paki-
stan never asserted the "security interest" theory before the 
district court or cited any precedent that mentioned it, and 
"[i]t is well settled that issues and legal theories not asserted 
at the District Court level ordinarily will not be heard on 
appeal." United States v. TDC Mgmt. Corp., 288 F.3d 421, 
425 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (quoting District of Columbia v. Air 
Florida, Inc., 750 F.2d 1077, 1084-85 (D.C. Cir. 1984)). That 
rule is particularly apt when reviewing a district court's 
determination that the discovery sought by a party is not 
relevant to the merits of the action. It can hardly be an 
abuse of discretion for a court to find requested discovery 
irrelevant when the only grounds upon which it might be 
relevant are not asserted until long after the court rules.

Pakistan insists that its security interest theory is not 
really a new argument, but instead was implicit in the argu-
ments it made before the district court. It notes, for exam-
ple, that it described the assignment of the charter party 
proceeds as "a security interest" in its opposition to Ned 
Chartering's motion for summary judgment. Opp'n to Pl.'s 
Mot. for Summ. J. at 3 (J.A. at 117). Although Pakistan did 
include that description, it did so only in the "background" 
section of the pleading. Pakistan attached no legal signifi-
cance to the description, and made no argument relating to it, 
in the sections devoted to explaining why the court should 
deny summary judgment or at least postpone it pending 
further discovery. There was no reason for the district court, 
reading that description, to attach a significance to it that 
Pakistan apparently did not itself discern.

While conceding that the "authorities cited to the district 
court to support Pakistan's position did not directly address 
the limitations that the law imposes on assignments that are 
security interests," Appellants' Reply Br. at 4, Pakistan also 
contends that its security interest theory is really only anoth-
er way of expressing the legal theory upon which it did rely in 
the district court: that an assignee "acquires no rights supe-
rior to those held by his assignor." Madison Nat'l Bank, 355 
F. Supp. at 169. If discovery showed that Horsebridge had 
already paid off its debt to Ned Chartering, Pakistan argues, 
then granting judgment against the Republic would mean 
that Ned "was entitled to be paid twice on the same debt." 
And that would mean that Ned had acquired rights "that 
were superior to those of its assignor." Appellants' Reply Br. 
at 4.

As with the security interest theory, however, this theory 
suffers from the fact that it was not raised below. Pakistan's 
opposition to summary judgment contains no mention of a 
claim that granting judgment for Ned Chartering would be 
equivalent to holding that Ned was entitled "to be paid twice 
on the same debt," and that such a holding would grant Ned 
rights superior to those of Horsebridge. And even if Paki-
stan had made the argument, Madison's maxim would be of 
no assistance to it. Madison and the other cases cited by 

Pakistan hold only that the assignee acquires no rights 
against the obligor superior to those held by the assignor. 
Even if Ned had previously been paid by Horsebridge, execu-
tion of the judgment in this case would not mean that it had 
been "paid twice on the same debt" by Pakistan.

Finally, Pakistan cites cases that it contends support the 
proposition that a court must apply the relevant law regard-
less of whether the parties cite it. It is true that "[w]hen an 
issue or claim is properly before the court, the court is not 
limited to the particular legal theories advanced by the 
parties, but rather retains the independent power to identify 
and apply the proposed construction of governing law." 
United States Nat'l Bank v. Independent Ins. Agents, 508 
U.S. 439, 446 (1993) (quoting Kamen v. Kemper Fin. Servs., 
Inc., 500 U.S. 90, 99 (1991)) (emphasis added). But while a 
court may draw upon its own knowledge of applicable prece-
dents in ruling on a motion, it is not required to unearth 
theories and precedents not cited by a party in order to 
determine whether that party's discovery requests are rele-
vant. Bringing those precedents and theories to the atten-
tion of the district judge is the job of the party's attorneys.

Because Pakistan gave the district court no reason to 
believe that the discovery it sought was legally relevant to its 
defense, and because the only possibly relevant reason it now 
offers was not presented to that court, the denial of time for 
further discovery did not constitute an abuse of discretion.


The task of district courts is hard enough as it is. We will 
not make it doubly so by second-guessing their reasonable 
scheduling decisions, or requiring them to discern the rele-
vance of parties' requests based on arguments never made 
supported by precedents never cited. The judgment of the 
district court, granting the plaintiff's motion for summary 
judgment, is