United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT SEATTLE CITY LIGHT'S
MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND DISMISSING CASE
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Seattle City
Light's Motion for Sanctions. Dkt. #40. Due to
Plaintiff's repeated failures to provide responses to
interrogatories and requests for production, Defendant City
Light (“City Light”) brought a motion to compel
responses. Dkt. #36. This Court granted the motion and
ordered Plaintiff to respond. Dkt. #39. Plaintiff did not
comply with the Court's order and City Light now asks the
Court to dismiss Plaintiff's action as a sanction for his
failure to respond. Dkt. #40. Plaintiff does not oppose the
request. For the following reasons, the Court grants City
Light's Motion for Sanctions and dismisses the case.
case has not significantly advanced since it was first
removed to this Court on January 26, 2018. Instead, it has
limped and stumbled toward the mirage of an ever-shifting
trial date. Plaintiff's has been represented by two
different attorneys, with each ultimately seeking to withdraw
to avoid violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Dkts. #13 and #33. Other than joint submissions and motions
to withdraw, Plaintiff has not filed any motion with this
Court. Since April 18, 2019, when Plaintiff last went pro se,
he has not filed anything with the Court including a response
to City Light's Motion to Compel Discovery and Extend
Deadlines (Dkt. #36) or this Motion for Sanctions (Dkt. #40).
In short, Plaintiff has given this Court no indication that
he intends to pursue this matter.
part, City Light has had some continued interactions with
Plaintiff but has not fared much better. City Light served a
first set of interrogatories and requests for production on
Plaintiff on, or about, May 16, 2018. Dkt. #41 at 5-18.
Despite Plaintiff being represented for some portion of that
time, City Light has never received responses to any of its
discovery requests. See Dkt. #37. Facing approaching
discovery deadlines, City Light sought to compel
Plaintiff's compliance with its discovery requests. Dkt.
#36. As noted, Plaintiff did not oppose the motion and the
Court required Plaintiff to “serve on Defendants, by no
later than May 31, 2019, his complete responses to Defendant
City Light's First Interrogatories and Requests for
Production” and to “appear for a videotaped
deposition on June 7, 2019.” Dkt. #39 at 5 (emphasis
omitted). Plaintiff was specifically warned that failure to
respond to the discovery requests “may result in
sanctions, including dismissal of his case.”
Id. (emphasis omitted).
Light indicates that on May 30, 2019, Plaintiff requested
another extension of time to comply with the Court's
order, a request that City Light denied. Dkt. #41 at
¶¶ 4-8. Plaintiff did not provide any responses by
May 31, 2019. Id. at ¶ 7. Plaintiff did appear
for his deposition on June 7, 2019 but did not provide any
documents other than a “two-page document listing names
of other engineers that he said the union had provided
him” earlier that day. Id. at ¶ 8.
Throughout his deposition, Plaintiff “testified
repeatedly that he could not answer questions without
reviewing documents” in his possession but which he has
never provided to City Light. Id.; see also Dkt. #41
scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
is broad. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Parties are required to respond
to both interrogatories and requests to produce documents
within 30 days of being served with the requests.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(2) (“responding party must serve its
answers and any objections within 30 days after being served
with the interrogatories”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 (b)(2)(A)
(responding party must “respond in writing within 30
days after being served”). The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure also provide for sanctions for failing to comply
with a court order and for failing to respond to
interrogatories or document requests. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2),
(d)(3). Under Rule 37, the court have broad discretion in the
crafting of appropriate sanctions, up to and including
dismissal. Id.; Liew v. Breen, 640 F.2d
1046, 1050 (9th Cir. 1981).
court considers dismissal as a remedy for failure to comply
with a court order, the court is to consider: “(1) the
public's interest in expeditious resolution of
litigation; (2) the court's need to manage its docket;
(3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public
policy favoring disposition of cases on their merits; and (5)
the availability of less drastic sanctions.” In re
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Prod. Liab. Litig., 460 F.3d 1217,
1226 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Malone v. U.S. Postal
Serv., 833 F.2d 128, 130 (9th Cir. 1987). The
“factors are ‘not a series of conditions
precedent before the judge can do anything,' but a
‘way for a district judge to think about what to
do.'” Id. (quoting Valley Eng'rs
Inc. v. Elec. Eng'g Co., 158 F.3d 1051, 1057 (9th
Cir. 1998)). Additionally, the Court should consider the
willfulness of the conduct. Henry v Gill Indus., Inc., 983
F.2d 943, 948 (9th Cir. 1995) (“‘disobedient
conduct not shown to be outside the control of the
litigant' is all that is required to demonstrate
willfulness, bad faith, or fault”) (citations omitted).
Dismissal Is Appropriate
consideration of the five relevant factors leads the Court to
conclude that dismissal is the appropriate sanction.
Plaintiff has not indicated any interest in seriously
pursuing this matter. A sanction short of dismissal would
necessitate yet another continuance of the trial
date-currently November 18, 2019. Despite not being heavily
litigated, this case has cluttered the Court's docket for
long enough and should be concluded. While the Court notes
the strong preference for resolution of cases on their
merits, Plaintiff appears unlikely to pursue this matter to
the merits and his failure to provide relevant documentation
or testimony casts serious doubt on the merits of his action.
most seriously, a remedy short of dismissal would appear to
prejudice City Light. Litigation depends on access to
relevant evidence. Nixon v. Adm'r of Gen.
Servs.,433 U.S. 425, 477 (1977) (noting that “the
functioning of our adversary legal system  depends upon the
availability of relevant evidence in carrying out its
commitments both to fair play and to the discovery of truth
within the bounds set by law”) (citations omitted).
Without access to evidence, City Light would certainly be
prejudiced in defending itself at trial. But City Light is
also unable to determine whether this case can be resolved
short of trial or on summary ...