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Teter v. Project Veritas Action Fund

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

May 13, 2019

SHIRLEY TETER, Plaintiff,
v.
PROJECT VERITAS ACTION FUND, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          MARTIN REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 38] and the Defendants' Motion to Strike and Exclude [Doc. 51].

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In this action, the Plaintiff Shirley Teter asserts claims for (1) defamation and (2) unfair and deceptive trade practices based on videos published by the Defendants. The Plaintiff alleges that these videos falsely implicate her involvement in coordinated disruptions and violence carried out in conjunction with the 2016 presidential election.

         The Defendants move for summary judgment with respect to both claims asserted by the Plaintiff. [Doc. 38]. They also move to strike certain evidence submitted by the Plaintiff in support of her opposition to the summary judgment motion. [Doc. 51]. The Court held a hearing on the Defendants' motions on March 19, 2019.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Motion to Strike Standard

         Rule 37(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that “[i]f a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or harmless.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(c)(1). The Court has “broad discretion” to determine whether a nondisclosure of evidence is substantially justified or harmless. United States v. $134, 750 U.S. Currency, 535 Fed.Appx. 232, 238 (4th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).

         B. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of the case.” News and Observer Publ'g Co. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Auth., 597 F.3d 570, 576 (4th Cir. 2010). A “genuine dispute” exists “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         A party asserting that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed must support its assertion with citations to the record or by showing that the adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support that fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). “Regardless of whether he may ultimately be responsible for proof and persuasion, the party seeking summary judgment bears an initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522 (4th Cir. 2003). If this showing is made, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party who must convince the court that a triable issue exists. Id. Finally, in considering a party's summary judgment motion, the Court must view the pleadings and materials presented in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, and must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant as well. Adams v. Trustees of Univ. of N.C. -Wilmington, 640 F.3d 550, 556 (4th Cir. 2011).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Strike and Exclude

         The Defendants move to strike and exclude the affidavits of Fernando Romero and Joel E. Jacobson, which affidavits were cited in support of the Plaintiff's response to the Defendants' summary judgment motion, on the grounds that the Plaintiff did not previously disclose these individuals as potential witnesses. The Defendants also move to strike any reference by the Plaintiff to any medical treatment received or medical expenses incurred by her, as the Plaintiff never pleaded such special damages in her Complaint per Federal Rule of ...


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