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Mitchell v. Wolfe

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

December 1, 2014

JOSHUA M. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT WOLFE, individually and in his official capacity as an officer with the Town of Gamer, Defendant

For Joshua M. Mitchell, Plaintiff: Mark A. Key, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Key Law Firm, Lillington, NC.

For Robert A. Wolfe, individually and in his official capacity as an officer with the Town of Garner, Defendant: Ann Cox Rowe, H. Lee Davis, Jr., Davis & Hamrick, LLP, Winston-Salem, NC.

ORDER

TERRENCE W. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment [DE 21], defendant's motions for sanctions [DE 27 and 33], and plaintiff's motion to exempt this case from mediation [DE 31]. For the following reasons, the first motion for sanctions is GRANTED and this matter is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The remaining motions are DENIED AS MOOT.

BACKGROUND

On July 9, 2014, United States Magistrate Judge James E. Gates signed an order allowing defendant's motion to compel and requiring plaintiff to provide complete discovery responses on or before July 23, 2014. The order specifically notes, " [a]ny objections by plaintiff to the production requests or interrogatories were waived by his failure to timely respond to them." [De 19 at 6]. The order does allow plaintiff to set forth objections based on privilege and work product, as long as a privilege log is provided. [DE 19 at 6].

On July 18, 2014, counsel for defendant sent a letter to plaintiff's counsel setting forth the areas where the discovery responses of plaintiff were incomplete and requesting that plaintiff provide complete discovery responses. Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to that correspondence and defendant then filed its motion for sanctions on July 31, 2014.

DISCUSSION

I. MOTIONS FOR SANCTIONS.

Defendant has filed two motions for sanctions with the Court. The first motion pertains to discovery requests served by the defendant on plaintiff and the order of Magistrate Judge Gates filed with the Court on July 9, 2014 which granted defendant's motion to compel. [DE 19]. Magistrate Judge Gates's order required plaintiff to provide complete discovery responses on or before July 23, 2014. Defendant states that plaintiff failed to provide complete discovery responses by that date despite plaintiff's counsel's attempt to obtain them. Defendant filed the first motion for sanctions on July 31, 2014 to which plaintiff did not file a response.

" Rule 37(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure gives the district court wide discretion to impose sanctions for a party's failure to comply with its discovery orders." Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Assoc, v. Richards & Assocs., Inc., 872 F.2d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 1989). Such a sanction includes " dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A). Defendant has sufficiently established that plaintiff failed to comply with Magistrate Judge Gates's discovery order. [DE 28 at 4-6]. Defendant specifically asks for a sanction of dismissal with prejudice for defendant's failure to comply with Magistrate Judge Gates's order. [DE 28 at 6-9].

In examining whether a dismissal or default is an appropriate sanction for failure to comply with a discovery order of the Court, the Court considers four factors:

(1) whether the noncomplying party acted in bad faith; (2) the amount of prejudice his noncompliance caused his adversary, which necessarily includes an inquiry into the materiality of the evidence he failed to produce; (3) the need for deterrence of the particular sort ...

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