Sunday, September 07, 2003

Discovery sanction of dismissal affirmed

In Good Steward Christian Center v. Empire Bank, the Eighth Circuit upheld dismissal of the plaintiffs' case for failure to comply with discovery orders. The appeals court summarized the case as follows: "In the short, but tortured history of this case, GSCC and Vaughn have made inappropriate ex parte communications, in direct violation of a district court order; made numerous baseless motions for sanctions against Appellees' attorneys; failed to properly answer requests for admissions; obstructed discovery during depositions; and failed to pay the sanctions ordered by the district court. In light of this, we do not think the district court abused its discretion."

After the first round of bogus motions from the plaintiffs, "the district court presciently advised 'Plaintiffs to curb their desire to motion the Court at whim, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of the sanctions they so persistently and unfoundedly request.'"

The appeals court also noted, "A glance through the docket sheet of the proceedings on appeal reveals more of the same conduct–e.g., three requests
for extensions to file the initial brief followed by an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to file a timely brief; numerous motions to supplement the record with "amended" and "corrected" briefs after the initial brief finally was filed, few of which comply with our rules; a motion for protective custody from a United States Marshal for plaintiffs and their counsel; a motion for an "extraordinary writ" alleging RICO violations by the district court; and, since argument, an "emergency motion" for a temporary restraining order leveled at a state court. While we stop short of actually sanctioning Appellants and their counsel, we admonish them in the future to better respect the federal judicial process."

In Lafleur v. Teen Help, the Tenth Circuit likewise affirmed dismissal of claims for discovery violations, based on this record:

"Defendants filed discovery requests for the son's psychological and school records and for the father's documentation of his expenses and injuries. In February 2000, the Goolds responded by saying the records were being compiled. Goold App. at e.g., 75, 124, 140. The magistrate judge held a hearing on November 21, 2000, on defendants' motion to exclude expert witnesses because the Goolds had not produced the necessary reports of their proposed experts or the documentation on which the reports were to be based, which was the same documentation defendants had requested. The magistrate judge extended the deadline for filing expert witness reports and imposed a sanction of $750 on the Goolds for requiring defendants to bring the motion. Thereafter, defendants filed a motion to compel production of the psychological, financial, and school records. The magistrate judge held another hearing on February 1, 2001, and ordered the documents to be produced by February 14, 2001. Goold App. at 391. The magistrate judge also imposed another monetary sanction against the Goolds and their attorney for failure to cooperate with discovery, this time for $500. Id. at 309, 394. The discovery was not produced by the deadline, or ever."

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