United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.
ORDER AND OPINION (1) DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
TO DISMISS, AND (2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
motions are pending: (1) Defendant's motion to dismiss
(Doc. #24), and (2) Plaintiff's motion to strike (Doc.
#27). For the reasons below, both are denied.
5, 2017, Defendant removed this matter from the Circuit Court
for Clinton County, Missouri. Doc. #1. On October 6, 2017,
Plaintiff filed an amended complaint. Doc. #20.
Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges Defendant violated
the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) by
supplying inaccurate information about Plaintiff in a credit
report provided by Defendant to an automobile dealership.
Plaintiff intends to seek certification of two separate
punitive classes. Plaintiff requests statutory and punitive
damages, as well as costs and attorney's fees. On October
20, 2017, Defendant answered Plaintiff's amended
complaint. Doc. #23.
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
argues Plaintiff gave “false, incomplete, and
inaccurate” answers to written interrogatories, and
committed perjury at his deposition taken on September 26,
2017, by failing to mention criminal and other civil matters
in which he was involved. As a result, Defendant filed the
now pending motion to dismiss, requesting dismissal of
Plaintiff's claims, or alternatively, disqualification of
Plaintiff as the representative of the purported classes.
Doc. #24. Defendant also seeks an award of attorney's
fees associated with taking Plaintiff's deposition and
filing the instant motion.
argues the Court has the power to sanction Plaintiff for his
conduct under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, and the
authority “necessarily vested in courts to manage their
own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious
disposition of cases.” Chambers v. NASCO,
Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991). To impose sanctions under
Rule 37, “there must be an order compelling discovery,
a willful violation of that order, and prejudice to the other
party.” Chrysler Corp. v. Carey, 186 F.3d
1016, 1019 (8th Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2). To impose sanctions under
the Court's inherent authority to manage its docket, the
Court must find (1) clear and convincing evidence that
misconduct occurred, and (2) that a lesser sanction would not
sufficiently punish and deter the abusive conduct while
allowing a full and fair trial on the merits. Martin v.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., 251 F.3d 691, 694-95 (8th Cir.
2001) (citation omitted). Dismissal is a “drastic
sanction” that should be used sparingly because
“the opportunity to be heard [on the merits] is a
litigant's most precious right.” Carey,
186 F.3d at 1020 (quotations and citations omitted).
a discovery dispute about interrogatory and deposition
answers given to Defendant by Plaintiff. The parties are
aware Local Rule 37.1 governs discovery disputes in this
Court. Doc. #12, at 1. The rule requires parties to attempt
to resolve discovery disputes on their own prior to
contacting the Court, at which time the Court will hold a
telephone conference to resolve the dispute. L. R. 37.1. The
rule expressly prohibits parties from filing a discovery
related motion until the Court hears the dispute during a
telephone conference. Id. Although the parties'
briefs indicate some limited discussion about this dispute
was held prior to or shortly after Defendant filed its
motion, the parties did not comply with Local Rule 37.1. For
this reason alone, Defendant's motion is denied.
Court also declines to impose sanctions pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 37. Due to Defendant's failure to
comply with Local Rule 37.1, there is not an order compelling
discovery in this matter. Accordingly, sanctions pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 are not appropriate.
Court also declines to impose sanctions pursuant to its
inherent authority to manage its docket. After a thorough
review of the parties' briefs, and Plaintiff's
deposition and interrogatory answers, the Court cannot find
clear and convincing evidence of misconduct worthy of either
requested sanction. Plaintiff answered Defendant's
interrogatories subject to general objections, and provided
more specific objections to the interrogatories at issue.
Doc. #25-4. Similarly, Plaintiff's deposition testimony
does not reveal clear and convincing evidence of misconduct
as Plaintiff responded to specific questions about the
criminal and civil matters provided in his interrogatory
answers. Doc. #25-3, at 48-62.
Plaintiff apparently omitted some information in his
interrogatory answers, the Court believes Plaintiff's
answers, or lack of information contained therein, are more
appropriately raised by Defendant at trial to impeach
Plaintiff. Accordingly, the Court denies Defendant's
motion to dismiss. Because the Court denies the motion, the
Court also denies Defendant's request for attorney's
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO STRIKE
moves to strike certain answers and affirmative defenses
contained in Defendant's answer (Doc. #23). Doc. #27.
Specifically, Plaintiff asks the Court to strike
Defendant's answers that state: (1) “In response to
the allegations contained in Paragraph (sic), Defendant
states that the document speaks for itself and therefore no
response is required, ” and (2) “Paragraph (sic)
contains a legal conclusion to which no response is required.
To the extent a response is required, Defendant denies the
same.” Plaintiff also asks the Court to strike an
assortment of Defendant's affirmative defenses,
summarized here as defenses related to failure to state a
claim, punitive damages, waiver or estoppel, third-party
conduct, and the statute of limitations.
responding to a pleading, a party must assert its defenses,
and “admit or deny the allegations asserted against it
by an opposing party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(b)(1). A court
may “strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or
any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous
matter.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). The Court has discretion
to strike portions of a pleading, but doing so “is an
extreme and disfavored measure.” BJC Health Sys. v.
Columbia Cas. Co., 478 F.3d 908, 917 (8th Cir. 2007)
(quoting Stanbury Law Firm, P.A. v. Internal Revenue
Serv., 221 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000). “A
motion to strike a defense will be denied if the defense is