United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHARLES A. SHAW UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on plaintiff Scott Gustafson's
(“plaintiff”) motion for sanctions pursuant to
Rules 30(d)(2) and 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Doc. 76. Defendant Bi-State Development Agency of
the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District
(“defendant”) opposes the motion and it is fully
briefed. For the following reasons, the motion will be
is a visually impaired resident of Missouri. Defendant is an
entity which provides public transportation services,
including the MetroBus and Metrolink, in Missouri and
Illinois. Plaintiff alleges he was discriminated against on
the basis of his vision disability because defendant denied
him equal access to public transportation systems and
services in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act,
§§ 213.065 and 213.070(3) (“MHRA”),
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 12101, et seq. (“ADA”), and
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.
§ 794 (“Rehab Act”).
September 12, 2019, Patricia Hall, defendant's designated
ADA Services Director from 2001 to 2018, was scheduled to be
deposed by plaintiff's counsel. Ms. Hall appeared for the
deposition, which lasted approximately four hours. In his
motion for sanctions, plaintiff argues defendant's
counsel improperly disrupted, prolonged, and frustrated the
deposition by: (1) asserting an excessive number of
unnecessary objections; (2) objecting without a reasonable
basis; and (3) objecting with the purpose of leading deponent
to provide “I don't know” answers. Plaintiff
also takes issue with defense counsel's assertion of
attorney-client privilege objections when prior to the
deposition defense counsel stated Ms. Hall was unrepresented.
Plaintiff's motion does not seek to reopen the deposition
or compel answers, but instead suggests that the Court should
order “the parties to confer on a reasonable amount to
be awarded and stipulate as to fees and costs[.]” Doc.
responds that plaintiff's motion for sanctions does not
comply with the procedural requirements of Local Rule
3.04(A), which requires “a statement that movant's
counsel has conferred in person or by telephone with the
opposing counsel in good faith or has made reasonable efforts
to do so[.]” Defendant further argues that the conduct
of its counsel during Ms. Hall's deposition did not
violate Rule 30(d)(2), Fed. R. Civ. P., because all
objections were made in good faith and were not presented in
an argumentative, obstructive, or suggestive manner. As to
the attorney-client privilege objection, defendant argues it
was Ms. Hall's decision to assert the privilege to
preserve a specific communication which occurred between her
and defendant's counsel during her employment.
district court has broad discretion in imposing sanctions.
Everyday Learning Corp. v. Larson, 242 F.3d 815, 818
(8th Cir. 2001). Under Rule 37, a court may issue orders
imposing sanctions for discovery abuses and pretrial order
violations. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)-(f). The district court has
“a large measure of discretion in deciding what
sanctions are appropriate for misconduct.” Hutchins
v. A. G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., 116 F.3d 1256, 1260
(8th Cir. 1997). However, the sanction must be proportionate
to the litigant's transgression. Keefer v. Provident
Life and Acc. Ins. Co., 238 F.3d 937, 941 (8th Cir.
2000). Rule 30(d)(2) provides that a “court may impose
an appropriate sanction - including the reasonable expenses
and attorney's fees incurred by any party - on a person
who impedes, delays, or frustrates the fair examination of
the deponent.” See also Dapron v. Spire, Inc. Ret.
Plans Comm., 329 F.R.D. 223, 228 (E.D. Mo. 2019)
(“Rule 30(d)(2) permits the Court to impose an
appropriate sanction on a person who ‘impedes, delays,
or frustrates the fair examination' of a Rule 30
deponent, and this rule is permissive in nature and may be
applied at the Court's discretion.”).
preliminary matter, defendant's argument that this Court
should not consider plaintiff's motion for sanctions
because plaintiff's counsel did not “meet and
confer” with defendant's counsel before filing his
motion is not well taken. Local Rule 3.04(A) requires parties
to meet and confer before filing discovery and disclosure
motions, such as a motion to compel, but it “does not
require counsel to meet and confer before seeking
sanctions.” CitiMortgage, Inc. v. Chicago Bancorp,
Inc., 2013 WL 3946116, at *3 (E.D. Mo. July 31, 2013)
(citing Lindstedt v. City of Granby, 238 F.3d 933,
936 (8th Cir. 2000)). Thus, plaintiff had no obligation to
meet and confer with defendant prior to filing the instant
plaintiff's motion for sanctions, the Court finds it
significant he does not seek to schedule a re-deposition of
Ms. Hall, but only requests monetary sanctions to be imposed
upon defendant. Plaintiff cites to Van Pilsum v. Iowa
State University of Science and Technology, 152 F.R.D.
179 (S.D. Iowa Dec. 3, 1993), Morales v. Zondo, 204
F.R.D. 50 (S.D.N.Y. May 4, 2001), Lund v. Matthews,
2014 WL 517569 (D. Neb. Feb. 7, 2014) and Harp v.
Cityy, 161 F.R.D. 398 (E.D. Ark. Apr. 10, 1995), among
other cases, for support that sanctions are appropriate.
However, these cases are distinguishable from the instant
action because the movants therein sought to compel a second
deposition or obtain additional discovery responses as the
result of the allegedly inappropriate behavior by counsel
during the depositions. Here, plaintiff makes no such request.
reviewing the deposition transcript, the Court does not find
defendant's objections to rise to the level where the
imposition of sanctions is justified, especially considering
plaintiff does not seek to reopen the deposition or compel
answers. See, e.g, , Dapron, 329
F.R.D. at 228 (finding sanctions to be inappropriate when a
second deposition was unnecessary). The Court agrees with
plaintiff that some of the objections were inappropriate,
such as defense counsel's standing objections; however,
it would be a stretch for this Court to conclude that the
deposition was seriously disrupted, prolonged, or frustrated.
Ms. Hall answered each question asked of her, despite
defendant's objections, and plaintiff s attorney had the
opportunity to clarify Ms. Hall's answers or rephrase his
questions. See Quinio v. Aala, 2017 WL 8646668, at
*3 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 2017) (finding no frustration in the
deposition when, despite opposing counsels objections, the
deponent answers the questions asked subsequent to the
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff Scott
Gustafson's (“plaintiff) motion for sanctions under
Rule 30(d)(2), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure, ...