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Laplante v. Peerless Insurance Co.

United States District Court, D. Maine

June 13, 2016

KRISTEN L. LAPLANTE, Plaintiff
v.
PEERLESS INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

          RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          JOHN C. NIVISON, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         In this uninsured motorist action, Defendant seeks dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint based on Plaintiff’s repeated failure to respond to Defendant’s discovery requests. (ECF No. 20.) Plaintiff acknowledges her failure to satisfy her obligations under the applicable rules, but contends dismissal is not warranted.

         After review of the parties’ submissions, I recommend the Court deny the motion to dismiss.

         Factual Background

         Plaintiff first asserted her claim against Defendant in an action filed in state court on June 27, 2014. After Defendant removed the case to this Court (case no. 1:14-cv-00301-JDL), Defendant served upon Plaintiff interrogatories and a request for documents. Plaintiff, however, never responded to the discovery requests. When Defendant scheduled Plaintiff’s deposition for the second time, Plaintiff’s counsel reported that he did not believe Plaintiff would appear for the deposition. After some communication between counsel, the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal without prejudice.

         On August 26, 2015, Plaintiff commenced this action. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant again served upon Plaintiff interrogatories and a request for documents. Because Plaintiff did not respond to the requests, Defendant sought the Court’s intervention. Following a telephonic conference on January 7, 2016, the Court ordered Plaintiff to provide Defendant with a signed medical authorization to permit Defendant to obtain the pertinent medical records, and to serve responses to Defendant’s discovery requests by January 29, 2016. (ECF No. 17.) Although Plaintiff provided the medical authorizations, she did not provide responses to the outstanding discovery requests.

         When Plaintiff did not provide responses to the discovery requests, Defendant again requested relief from the Court. After a telephonic conference, the Court authorized Defendant to file a motion to compel or for sanctions.

         Discussion

         Defendant moves for dismissal as a sanction for Plaintiff’s failure to comply with the Court’s discovery order. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, which authorizes the Court to impose sanctions for a party’s non-compliance, states in relevant part:

(A) For Not Obeying a Discovery Order. If a party… fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, …the court …may issue further just orders. They may include the following:
(i) directing that the matters embraced in the order or other designated facts be taken as established for purposes of the action, as the prevailing party claims;
(ii) prohibiting the disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated claims or defenses, or from introducing designated matters in evidence;
(iii) striking pleadings in whole or in part;
(iv) staying further proceedings until the order ...

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