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Spann v. NC Department of Public Safety

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

December 29, 2017

RONALD WAYNE SPANN, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Robert J. Uhren, Jr., M.D.'s ("Defendant Uhren") Reasonable Expenses Statement [#51] regarding sanctions. Defendant Uhren previously moved for the imposition of sanctions against Plaintiff for Plaintiff s failure to serve initial disclosures [#41]. The Court imposed sanctions on Plaintiff for Defendant's Uhren's reasonable expenses including attorney's fees [#46]. Plaintiff has not responded.

         I. Background

On April 13, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Complaint [# 1]. Plaintiff was represented by Mary March Williams Exum ("Exum"). On April 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint [# 2]. On July 11, 2017, Attorney KLristin Harmon Lang ("Lang") filed a Notice of Appearance [# 25] stating that she would join Exum in representing Plaintiff. On August 29, 2017, Exum was terminated from Plaintiff s case because her North Carolina State Bar license had been suspended for five years [#38]. Thus, Lang became Plaintiffs lead attorney.

         On September 14, 2017, the parties filed their Certification of Initial Attorney's Conference [# 39]. September 19, 2017, the Court entered a Pretrial Order and Case Management Plan [# 40] that required the parties to provide Rule 26 initial disclosures on October 4, 2017. All defendants in this case provided Plaintiff s counsel with initial disclosures. Plaintiff s counsel did not.

         On October 25, 2017, Defendant Uhren filed his motion to compel Plaintiffs initial disclosures [# 41]. Up until that point, defendants had given Plaintiffs counsel many opportunities to provide initial disclosures without moving for sanctions [## 41, 42, 44, & 45]. On November 16, 2017, the Court ordered that Plaintiffs counsel Lang provide defendants with Plaintiffs initial disclosures by November 23, 2017, and the Court imposed sanctions on Plaintiffs counsel Lang for Defendant's Uhren's reasonable expenses including attorney's fees [# 46]. On November 30, 2017, Defendant Uhren provided the Court with a Reasonable Expenses Statement alongside affidavits from his attorneys [# 51-53]. Plaintiffs counsel Lang has not responded to Defendant Uhren or any other defendant's motions for initial disclosures and sanctions.

         On December 5, 2017, Lang attempted to withdraw from the Case. On December 6, 2017, the Court denied Lang's motion to withdraw [#55].

         II. Analysis

         In general, a party must provide the opposing side its initial disclosures within fourteen days of the parties' Rule 26(f) conference or within the time set by the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(C). The purpose of Rule 26(a)(1) is to provide for the disclosure of basic information needed in most every case in order to prepare for trial or make an informed decision as to settlement. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a) advisory committee's note to 1993 amendment.

         Where a party fails to comply with the initial disclosure requirements of Rule 26, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for the imposition of sanctions against the offending party. Specifically, Rule 37(b)(2)(A), (C) provides:

If a party's officer . . . fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, including an order under Rule 26(f), ... the Court must order the disobedient party, the attorney advising that party, or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the failure was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

         Plaintiffs counsel Lang was given many grace periods to provide initial disclosures by all defendants [see ## 41, 42, 44, & 45]. Lang has refused to respond to defendants and to the Court's order requiring initial disclosures by November 23, 2017 [#46].

         Upon a review of the relevant legal authority and the entire record in this case, the Court finds that Plaintiffs counsel should be ordered to pay the attorney's fees of Defendant's counsel attributable to the motion to compel [#41].

         III. Legal Standard

         In calculating the amount of attorney's fees to award, the Court first determines the lodestar figure by multiplying the reasonable number of hours expended by the reasonable hourly rate. McAfee v. Boczar, 738 F.3d 81, 88 (4th Cir. 2013). In determining what constitutes a ...


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