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Williams v. Waldo County Maine Deputy Merl Reed

United States District Court, D. Maine

March 13, 2017

BRADLEY PAUL WILLIAMS, Plaintiff
v.
WALDO COUNTY MAINE DEPUTY MERL REED, et al., Defendants

          ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS

          John C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the motion for sanctions of Defendants City of Belfast and Belfast Police Chief Michael McFadden. (Motion, ECF No. 40.) Through the motion, Defendants ask the Court to sanction Plaintiff for his repeated failure to respond to Defendants' discovery requests. Defendants ask the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint or, alternatively, to order Plaintiff "to immediately submit his responses to the Discovery Requests and fashion other sanctions that it deems appropriate under the circumstances." (Defendants' Reply at 3, ECF No. 45.)

         Factual Background

          The record reveals that on December 6, 2016, Defendants served interrogatories and a request for documents upon Plaintiff. Plaintiff failed to respond to the discovery requests as required by the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure. Defendants wrote to Plaintiff to request a response or to contact Defendants' counsel to discuss the requested discovery. When Plaintiff did not respond, Defendants requested a telephonic conference with the Court. In response to Defendants' request for a conference, Plaintiff asked for and received a week extension of the time to respond to the discovery requests. Under the order, Plaintiff was required to serve the responses by January 26, 2017. (Order, ECF No. 37.) On January 23, Plaintiff asked Defendants to send the discovery requests to him. Even though Defendants had previously provided the requests to Plaintiff, Defendants forwarded to him another copy of the requests. Nevertheless, Plaintiff has not served responses to the discovery requests. (Reply in Support of Motion for Sanctions, ECF No. 45.)

         Discussion

          Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(d)(1)(A)(ii) authorizes the Court to impose sanctions where "a party, after being properly served with interrogatories under Rule 33 or a request for inspection under Rule 34, fails to serve its answers, objections, or written response." According to the current record, Plaintiff has not served responses to the discovery requests. When Defendants requested a telephonic conference in accordance Local Rule 26(b) to address Plaintiff's failure to respond to the requests, based on Plaintiffs representation he would provide responses to the discovery requests by January 26, 2017 (Motion to Extend Time at 2, ECF No. 36), the Court did not schedule the conference. Instead, the Court extended the time for Plaintiff to serve the responses to January 26, 2017. (Order, ECF No. 37.) Pursuant to the Court's order, therefore, Plaintiff was required to respond to the discovery requests by January 26.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), which authorizes the Court to impose sanctions for a party's non-compliance with discovery orders, 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 is obeyed;
(v) dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part;
(vi) rendering a default judgment against the disobedient ...

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