Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. $307

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

December 18, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$307, 970.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on the government's motion to compel discovery. (DE 186). Also before the court is claimants' motion to dismiss, or exclude, or for other appropriate sanctions, (DE 190), and the government's motion exclude or limit evidence, or for sanctions. (DE 192). In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for ruling. For the reasons that follow, the court denies in part and grants in part the government's motion to compel. The court denies the parties' competing motions for sanctions.

         BACKGROUND

         This case has a lengthy and contentious history summarized more fully in the court's prior orders. The government initiated this civil forfeiture July 12, 2012, by filing a complaint for forfeiture in rem against $307, 970.00 in U.S. currency seized from Apolinar Garcia-Ancelmo during a traffic stop conducted February 16, 2012. The government asserts that defendant currency was used or intended to be used in exchange for controlled substances, represented proceeds of trafficking in controlled substances, or was used or intended to be used to facilitate a violation of Title II of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et sea. The government filed amended complaint July 31, 2012[1]

         In August 2012, Apolinar Garcia-Ancelmo, Cirila Pineda Garcia, [2] and Lucia Yasmin Covarrubias (together "claimants") filed claims contesting forfeiture. Claimants filed joint answer September 14, 2012. The court entered case management order ("CMO") November 20, 2012, which set the discovery deadline of March 14, 2013.

         Thereafter, on January 28, 2013, claimants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In response, on February 11, 2013, the government filed notice of automatic stay of time to file response under Rule (G)(6)(c) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and As set Forfeiture Actions ("Supplemental Rules") until 21 days after claimants answered special interrogatories served upon them the same date. By order dated May 22, 2013, the court directed claimants to respond to the government's special interrogatories within 10 days of entry of the order. Pursuant to the May 22, 2013, order, all other discovery was stayed pending resolution of claimants' motion to dismiss.

         On June 14, 2013, the government filed a motion to compel adequate responses to the special interrogatories it served upon claimants on February 11, 2013.[3] On August 13, 2013, the court granted in part the government's motion to compel, and directed claimants to file supplemental responses to certain special interrogatories served upon them. The order also stayed the government's obligation to respond to claimants' motion to dismiss until 21 days after claimants served their supplemental responses to the government's special interrogatories. By text order dated September 27, 2013, the court denied claimants' motion to dismiss on the basis that the complaint provided sufficiently detailed facts to support a reasonable belief that the government will be able to meet its burden of proof at trial.[4]

         The court entered supplemental CMO on October 15, 2013. On January 23, 2014, the government filed a motion to stay, pending conclusion of a contemporaneous and related criminal investigation of one or more of the claimants. The court granted the government's motion, ultimately staying the case up to and through October 17, 2014. Upon expiration of stay, the court reset scheduling deadlines with discovery due by February 28, 2015, and motions due by March 31, 2015.

         On January 30, 2015, claimants filed motion for summary judgment. On July 2, 2015, the court stayed all discovery pending partial resolution of claimants' motion for summary judgment. By order dated August 26, 2015, the court denied claimants' motion for summary judgment in part.[5]The court's August 26, 2015, order set discovery deadline of October 20, 2015, and indicated that the court would address other arguments contained in claimants' motion for summary judgment upon expiration of that deadline.

         On October 27, 2015, government filed a second motion to stay proceedings, pending completion of a contemporaneous and related criminal investigation of all claimants. Thereafter, on November 10, 2015, claimants filed a motion to dismiss, as sanction for the government's alleged willful discovery violations. By order dated January 14, 2016, the court granted the government's motion to stay and denied claimants' motion to dismiss. The government filed a third motion to stay proceedings on May 19, 2016, which the court granted on June 28, 2016. The court ultimately stayed the case up to and including October 29, 2016.

         Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 36 and 37, claimants filed a motion to compel production of documents relevant to two government's witnesses, or alternative motion to exclude their testimony on January 23, 2017. Thereafter, claimants filed a motion to quash or modify subpoenas on February 21, 2017, as amended February 24, 2017.

         The court held telephonic hearing regarding claimants' motion to quash and motion for subpoenas on March 30, 2017. At hearing, the court granted in part and denied in part claimants' motion to compel or exclude. The court granted claimants' motion to the extent claimants sought the presentence report and psychiatric report of government witnesses, Thurman Ray Bohene, Jr. With regard to the other potential government witness, Maria Rodriguez, the court denied claimants' motion where no evidence established that the government withheld documents responsive to claimants' discovery requests. The court also denied claimants' motion to quash, on the basis that claimants lacked standing.

         Following telephonic hearing, the court entered second supplemental CMO on April 10, 2017. Pursuant to supplemental CMO, the court set discovery deadline of October 2, 2017, and motions deadline of November 17, 2017. On August 18, 2017, the government filed a motion for extension of time to complete discovery, which the court denied in part by text order dated September 5, 2017. The court allowed the parties an extension of time for expert discovery, and directed the parties to file a motion for entry of a consent order setting such new deadline.

         At the parties' request, on September 8, 2017, Magistrate Judge Robert Jones B. Jones, Jr., held telephonic conference regarding new discovery dispute, which concluded in impasse. On September 11, 2017, the court entered an order modifying discovery deadlines. The order required reports from retained experts to be served by the parties no later than November 1, 2017, and set deadline for depositions of expert witnesses for November 22, 2017. The order also set dispositive motions deadline of December 15, 2017, .

         The government filed the instant motion to compel discovery on September 12, 2017, together with a memorandum in support thereof and several exhibits. Claimants filed the instant motion to dismiss, alternatively a motion for other appropriate sanctions on September 29, 2017. On October 11, 2017, the government filed a motion to exclude certain evidence, alternatively a motion for other appropriate sanctions.

         On November 21, 2017, the court extended the deadline for the parties to complete expert depositions to January 26, 2018, and the deadline to file dispositive motions to February 23, 2018.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Compel

         1. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides that when a party fails to respond to discovery, the party seeking discovery can move for an order compelling production. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). The trial court holds broad discretion when addressing a motion to compel discovery. See LaRouche v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co.. Inc.. 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) ("A motion to compel discovery is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court."); see also Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon. Inc.. v. Alpha of Va.. Inc.. 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) ("This Court affords a district court substantial discretion in managing discovery and reviews the denial of granting a motion to compel discovery for abuse of discretion.").

         Ordinarily, a "[p]art[y] may obtain discovery regarding any non privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "Information within the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable." Id., "On motion or on its own, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery ... if it determines that... the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule 26(b)(1)" Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). When challenged, "[a] party claiming that a request is important to resolve [certain] issues should be able to explain the ways in which the underlying information bears on the issues as that party understands them." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, Advisory Committee Notes (2015 amend.).[6]

         Relevance within the context of Rule 26 "has been construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Qppenheimer Fund.. Inc.. v. Sanders.437 U.S. 340. 351 (1978V "The court should and ordinarily does interpret 'relevant' very broadly to mean matter that is relevant to anything that is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.