United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southern Division
TERRY D. OWENS, Plaintiff,
CENTRAL TRUST BANK, et al., Defendants.
DOUGLAS HARPOOL, District Judge.
Before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment (Docs. 72, 86, 88) and various other procedural motions (Docs. 80, 96, 107, 125, 134) filed by the parties. Upon careful consideration of the issues presented and the legal arguments provided by the parties, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' motions for summary judgment (Docs. 86, 88), DENIES Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 72), and DENIES the parties' various other motions (Docs. 80, 96, 107, 125, 134).
On February 24, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to proceed with the present case in forma pauperis. Plaintiff, proceeding pro se,  filed an initial complaint that named more than ten defendants and included twenty-six pages of single-spaced writing that "intermix[ed] legal arguments, allegation[s] of fact, and references to missing exhibits." The complaint appeared to assert claims under the FDCPA and FCRA. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's initial complaint for failure to comply with the pleading requirements of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8 and 10(b). The Court agreed with Defendants that "it is difficult to decipher what specific allegations are made against them." However, given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court denied Defendants' motion to dismiss and instead allowed Plaintiff to amend his complaint.
Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint on May 19, 2014. Plaintiff's first amended complaint asserted various FCRA claims against ten named defendants and 52 unnamed defendants. Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's first amended complaint for failure to state a claim. The Court, employing a liberal construction,  sustained Defendants' motion. The Court found Plaintiff's allegations under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a) failed to state a claim because the FCRA does not permit private law suits to enforce that section. The Court found Plaintiff's allegations under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b) failed to state a claim because Plaintiff failed to plead a triggering notice from a credit reporting agency and failed to describe the allegedly inaccurate information that was furnished. The Court allowed Plaintiff "one last attempt to amend his complaint" in order to "address the deficiencies discussed... as to his 1681s-2(b) claim."
Plaintiff filed his second amended complaint on September 16, 2014. Defendants again moved to dismiss Plaintiff's pleading for failure to state a claim. The Court reviewed Plaintiff's second amended complaint, including all attached exhibits, and concluded that "[a]lthough the Second Amended Complaint remains disorganized, continues to assert arguments struck down by the Court, and contains over 250 pages of exhibits" the second amended complaint "contains sufficient factual allegations, accepted as true, to state a plausible claim under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b) against the bank defendants." The Court noted that "Plaintiff's other allegations - those relating to section 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a) and those against individual defendants - fail to state a claim. To the extent that Plaintiff attempts to proceed with those allegations, such claims are dismissed." The Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss, stating:
Plaintiff sufficiently states a claim against the bank defendants, Central Bank and Central Trust Bank, under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b). Plaintiff's other attempted claims, including those related to individual defendants and those that arise under 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(a), are dismissed.
Doc. 60, 7.
Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. The Court extended the parties' time for briefing that motion due to an intervening discovery dispute. Defendants filed their own motions for summary judgment at the same time they submitted their suggestions in opposition to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. In addition to the cross motions for summary judgment, both parties have filed various other motions that attack their opponent's compliance with court rules, orders, and procedures and seeking relief including dismissal of the case, dismissal of filings, striking filings, and monetary sanctions. The Court set and held oral arguments in order to clarify and summarize the parties' arguments with respect to the various motions filed in this case. The Court allowed the parties to submit post-hearing briefs presenting legal authority on a limited issue. The time for submitting post-hearing briefs has expired and all pending motions are now ripe for review.
I. Various Procedural Motions
As the Court stated during oral arguments, the Court is not inclined to award sanctions in this case based on procedural and technical errors but, instead, prefers to rule on the merits of the case. Keeping that goal in mind, the Court will discuss the parties' various procedural and sanction-based motions.
A. Defendants' Motion (Doc. 80)
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b), arguing dismissal is warranted based on Plaintiff's failure to comply with court rules and orders regarding discovery. Rule 41(b) dismissals are considered an "extreme sanction" and "should be used in only in cases of willful disobedience of a court order or... persistent failure to prosecute a complaint." Rodgers v. Curators of Univ. of Missouri, 135 F.3d 1216, 1219 (8th Cir. 1998) (quoting Givens v. A.H. Robins Co., 751 F.2d 261, 263 (8th Cir. 1984)). The district court must find the party "acted intentionally as opposed to accidentally or involuntarily." Id. The decision whether to dismiss under Rule 41(b) is largely in the discretion of the trial court. Hunt v. City of Minneapolis, Minn., 203 F.3d 524, 527 (8th Cir. 2000). Under the circumstances presented here, regardless of the truth/falsity of Defendant's ...