United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
C. Poplin, United States Magistrate Judge.
case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Rule 73 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and
the consent of the parties, for all further proceedings,
including entry of judgment [Doc. 9].
before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Dismissal as
Sanction for Plaintiffs' Discovery Violations, or
Alternatively, for Other Appropriate Sanctions (“Motion
for Dismissal”) [Doc. 25]. The Court entered an Order
[Doc. 28] directing Plaintiffs to appear before the
undersigned on May 30, 2019, to show cause why
Defendant's Motion for Dismissal should not be granted.
Plaintiffs did not appear at the May 30 show cause hearing.
Attorney Erin Gomez appeared on behalf of Defendant.
Accordingly, for the reasons further explained below, the
Court finds Defendant's Motion for Dismissal
[Doc. 25] well taken, and it is
originally filed their action in Circuit Court for Jefferson
County, Tennessee. [Doc. 1-1]. On June 6, 2018, Defendant
removed Plaintiffs' Complaint to this Court. [Doc.
1].Specifically, Plaintiffs' Complaint
against Defendant seeks damages resulting from Plaintiff
Jennifer Lane tripping on an alleged “uneven, broken,
misplaced or misapplied flooring” in Defendant's
store. [Doc. 1-1 at ¶¶ 4, 7]. Defendant Crandall
Lane alleges loss of consortium. [Id. at ¶ 15].
Defendant filed its Answer [Doc. 6] to the Complaint on June
September 10, 2018, Defendant served Plaintiffs with
Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents.
Plaintiffs did not respond to these discovery requests under
the time provided in the Federal Rules. After several
communications with Plaintiffs' now, former counsel,
Attorney Taylor, Defendant received incomplete and unsigned
interrogatory responses on February 12, 2019.
March 7, 2019, Attorney Taylor and Attorney Gomez appeared
before the undersigned via telephone with respect to
Plaintiff Jennifer Lane's overdue discovery responses.
[Doc. 24].During the telephone conference, Attorney
Taylor explained his attempts to contact Plaintiffs and
stated that he was having difficulties contacting them. On
the same day, the Court ordered Plaintiff Jennifer Lane to
respond to Defendant's Interrogatories and Requests for
Production of Documents on or before March 25, 2019.
[Id.]. The Court noted that if Plaintiff Jennifer
Lane failed to respond to the outstanding discovery requests
by the March 25 deadline, Defendant may move for the
appropriate sanctions. [Id.]. The Court warned
Plaintiff Jennifer Lane that future discovery abuses that
approach the magnitude of the previous failure may lead to
sanctions, up to and including dismissal of this case.
[Id.]. The Court directed Attorney Taylor to send
the Court's Order to Plaintiffs via certified mail.
Jennifer Lane did not respond to the discovery requests as
ordered by the Court, prompting the instant Motion for
Dismissal, which was filed on March 28, 2019. On April 9,
2019, the Court issued an Order [Doc. 28] directing
Plaintiffs to appear before the undersigned on May 30, 2019,
to show cause why Defendant's Motion for Dismissal should
not be granted. The Order also warned Plaintiffs that the
failure to attend the hearing may lead to sanctions, up to
and including dismissal of this case. [Id. at 2].
Subsequently, on April 15, 2019, Attorney Taylor filed a
Motion to Withdraw, requesting that he be relieved from
representing Plaintiffs in this case. On May 10, 2019, the
Court granted [Doc. 29] Attorney Taylor's Motion to
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
moves [Doc. 25] to dismiss this case, or in the alternative,
moves for sanctions against Plaintiffs for their continued
failure to respond to the discovery requests. Specifically,
Defendant requests the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs'
Complaint as a sanction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37. Defendant argues Plaintiffs “have completely
disengaged from this lawsuit.” [Doc. 26 at 1].
Moreover, Defendant maintains that Plaintiffs have ignored
and failed to correspond with their former attorney. In
addition, Defendant emphasizes that Plaintiffs' repeated
failures to participate in their own case have wasted the
Court's and Defendant's resources.
further asserts that Plaintiffs' failure to meet
discovery requirements is willful and that Defendant has been
prejudiced by such conduct. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs
were warned that the failure to cooperate could lead to
dismissal of their case and that sanctions less drastic than
dismissal would not remedy Plaintiffs' previous discovery
abuses. Alternatively, in the event the Court refuses to
dismiss Plaintiffs' case, Defendant requests the Court to
impose other sanctions permitted under Rule 37.
Court notes that Plaintiffs did not respond to the Motion for
Dismissal, and the time for doing so has expired.
See E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.2. (“Failure to respond
to a motion may be deemed a waiver of any opposition to the
relief sought.”). As stated above, Plaintiffs failed to
respond to Defendant's discovery requests or communicate
with Attorney Taylor. Further, Plaintiffs did not appear at
the show cause hearing, and therefore, they failed to provide
the Court with reasons as to why this case should not be
dismissed. Accordingly, the Court finds Defendant's
Motion for Dismissal [Doc. 25] well taken,
and the same shall be GRANTED.
moves to dismiss, or in the alternative, for other sanctions
as outlined in Rule 37(b)(2)(A). Specifically, Rule