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Drummer v. Corizon LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 13, 2019

CORIZON, LLC, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Lawrence Drummer, Jr.'s motion for sanctions. ECF No. 106. Defendants[1] oppose the motion. ECF No. 107. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for sanctions will be granted in part and denied in part.


         This prisoner civil rights case was filed by Plaintiff, who was at that time proceeding pro se, on July 18, 2016. He named as Defendants certain medical professionals who treated him at the prison, including Dr. Fe Fuentes, Dr. Brenda Mallard, and Nurse LaCinda Jones.

         The Court appointed Plaintiff's counsel to represent Plaintiff in this matter on August 14, 2017. Since then, the parties have exchanged discovery and various discovery disputes have necessitated resolution by the Court and extensions of case deadlines. The following is a recitation of facts relevant to the instant motion for sanctions.

         On November 30, 2017, Defendants provided Plaintiff with 860 pages of initial disclosures, including Plaintiff's medical records and informal grievance requests. On March 20, 2018, Plaintiff served his first set of discovery requests. Discovery disputes ensued and ultimately resulted in Plaintiff filing a motion to compel on April 12, 2019. Meanwhile, Plaintiff proceeded with the depositions of Dr. Mallard and Ms. Jones on March 15, 2019, and later, Dr. Fuentes on April 29, 2019. Three days before Dr. Fuentes's deposition, Defendants provided Plaintiff with 226 pages of discovery materials pertaining to job descriptions, policies and procedures, and standards. Defendants provided an additional 935 pages of discovery materials after Dr. Fuentes's deposition, on May 7, 2019.

         On May 8, 2019, the Court entered a lengthy order addressing the written discovery disputes raised in Plaintiff's motion to compel. On May 23, 2019, Defendants provided Plaintiff with 1, 496 pages of additional discovery materials related to Corizon's orientation materials and its policies and procedures. On June 4, 2019, Defendants sent a notice of intent to serve a subpoena on the St. Louis City Justice Center. ECF No. 107-3.

         On June 15, 2019, two days before Corizon's corporate representative deposition, Defendants provided Plaintiff with 2, 308 pages of discovery materials relating to the upcoming deposition. On the morning of the corporate representative deposition, Defendants sent Plaintiff more relevant documents. Most recently, on July 2, 2019, Defendants filed their second supplemental answers to Plaintiff's discovery requests, including 94 pages of offsite log sheets, Plaintiff's call logs, employee agreements, and W-2s.

         Plaintiff contends that Defendants' untimely production included offsite treatment logs, Plaintiff's call logs wherein he discusses his lack of medical treatment, communications between Dr. Mallard and the regional medical director pertaining to Plaintiff's scheduled surgery being missed, Corizon policies pertaining to when to refer inmates for outside medical treatment, job descriptions of several defendants, documents referencing Ms. Jones failing to respond to Plaintiff's grievance complaint, and grievance records that Plaintiff was told did not exist.

         On August 1, 2019, Plaintiff filed this motion for sanctions for Defendants' piecemeal document production that occurred over the course of one year, as well as their failure to provide many of the requested documents as part of their initial disclosures. Plaintiff asks the Court to strike the Corizon Defendants' answers and affirmative defenses for their unfair document production delay tactics, which resulted in Plaintiff's inability to use relevant materials during the depositions of Ms. Jones, [2] Dr. Fuentes, Dr. Mallard, and Corizon's corporate representative.

         Defendants respond that they have worked diligently and in good faith to answer Plaintiff's requests for production of documents, which numbered over 500 and which, according to Defendants, sought materials beyond the scope of Plaintiff's alleged constitutional violations. Further, Defendants maintain that several of the documents requested were in the possession of a third party, which necessitated a subpoena and caused a delay in production. Defendants maintain that they sent subpoenas to obtain those records and produced them upon receipt.

         In reply, Plaintiff contends that he has been substantially prejudiced by Defendants' late disclosures and demands reimbursement for deposition preparation, court reporting services, and time spent preparing his motion to compel, totaling $9, 612.68.


         “The Court's authority to sanction a party for its discovery misconduct flows from its inherent power to ‘manage [its] own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases, including fashion[ing] an appropriate sanction for conduct which abuses the judicial process.'” HM Compounding Servs., LLC v. Express Scripts, Inc., 349 F.Supp.3d 794, 799 (E.D. Mo. 2018) (quoting Knapp v. Convergys Corp., 209 F.R.D. 439, 442 (E.D. Mo. 2002)). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, a district court has broad discretion to impose sanctions for discovery violations, see Nat'l Hockey League v. Metro. Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 642-43 (1976), including “entering default judgment, striking pleadings, providing an adverse jury instruction, or awarding attorney's fees and costs.” Lapidus v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., No. ...

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