United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff Dale Maddocks alleges Defendants violated
his constitutional rights in connection with an arrest and
detention in May 2013. The matter is before the Court on the
Portland Defendants' Motion for Sanctions,  in which motion
the County Defendants joined. (ECF Nos. 52/56.) Through the
motion for sanctions, Defendants request dismissal of the
action based on certain discovery violations committed by
Plaintiff. Plaintiff has not filed an opposition to
a review of the motion and the record, I recommend the Court
grant the motion and dismiss the matter unless, within the
time for the filing of objections to this Recommended
Decision (14 days), Plaintiff demonstrates to the Court in
writing cause for his failure to respond to the motion for
sanctions and otherwise demonstrates that he intends to
prosecute this case.
deposition was originally noticed for June 16, 2016, at 10:00
a.m., in Portland, Maine, at the offices of counsel for the
Portland Defendants. Plaintiff appeared for the deposition.
Due to a miscommunication, a court reporter did not appear
for the deposition. Counsel informed Plaintiff that the
deposition would be delayed for a brief period of time in
order to secure a replacement court reporter. Plaintiff did
not wait for a court reporter to appear. Instead, he left the
premises and the deposition was not held.
rescheduled the deposition of Plaintiff for June 27, 2016, at
11 a.m., at a public building in Machias, which location was
more convenient for Plaintiff. The deposition of
Plaintiff's girlfriend (Ms. McGregor), a potential trial
witness, was scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 27.
counsel and the court reporter arrived at the deposition
location at approximately 9:30 a.m. When Ms. McGregor failed
to appear for her deposition as scheduled, counsel attempted
to contact her and reached her daughter, who advised that she
understood Plaintiff and Ms. McGregor were on their way to
the depositions. Because Plaintiff and Ms. McGregor did not
appear after the passage of more time, counsel contacted Ms.
McGregor's daughter and obtained a cell phone number for
Ms. McGregor. When counsel reached Plaintiff and Ms.
McGregor, they reported they had waited at the deposition
location for approximately 45 minutes, but left because the
lawyers never appeared. Counsel for defendants were at the
deposition location beginning at 9:30 a.m. The telephone call
occurred before 11 a.m., the time scheduled for
Plaintiff's deposition. Plaintiff nevertheless did not
appear for his deposition.
Portland Defendants subsequently requested a telephonic
conference with the Court to address certain discovery
issues, including their inability to conduct Plaintiff's
deposition and Plaintiff's failure to provide responsive
signed answers to interrogatories. As the result of the
telephonic conference, the Court ordered:
Defendants shall notice the depositions of Plaintiff and Ms.
McGregor for August 18, 2016. The parties agree that the
depositions will take place in Bangor, Maine. All parties
shall appear for the depositions as scheduled.
(Order, ECF No. 46.) At that time, the Portland Defendants
agreed they would not seek an order requiring Plaintiff to
supplement his answers to interrogatories, but would
determine whether to do so based on the information provided
by Plaintiff at his deposition.
to the Court's Order, Plaintiff appeared for the
deposition, but refused to answer any questions regarding his
service-connected disability. Plaintiff confirmed that he was
making a claim for damages for physical and psychological or
emotional injuries, but refused to answer questions related
to prior conditions, including the basis for his
service-connected disability. (Maddocks Dep. at 14 - 17, ECF
No. 52-2.) Plaintiff claimed that he was ordered by the
military not to tell anybody about his service-connected
disability. Plaintiff stated he would not answer the
questions even if the Court ordered him to do so.
(Id. at 25.)
recessed the deposition and requested a telephonic conference
with the Court to address Plaintiff's refusal to answer
the questions. During the conference, the Court ordered that
given Plaintiff's claim for damages, Plaintiff must
answer the questions regarding his service-related disability
and cautioned him that his failure to do so could provide
Defendants with a basis to seek further relief from the
Court, including the imposition of sanctions. Plaintiff
understood further court action was possible if he refused to
answer the questions. (Id. at 114 - 115.) Plaintiff
continued to refuse to answer the questions.
request dismissal of Plaintiff's case as a sanction.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 authorizes the imposition
of sanctions against a party for failure to cooperate in
discovery. Where appropriate, a court may prohibit a party
“from supporting or opposing designated claims or
defenses, or from introducing designated matters in
evidence.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(ii). A court also
may under appropriate circumstances “strike pleadings
in whole or in part, ” or dismiss the action “in
whole or part.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(iii), (v).
Such sanctions are authorized where the party fails to attend
its own deposition after being served with proper notice.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(d). Notably, the First Circuit has affirmed a
sanction of dismissal for a party's failure to attend his
deposition. Guex v. Allmerica Fin. Life Ins. &
Annuity Co., 146 ...