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Leads Club, Inc. v. Peterson

March 26, 2007

LEADS CLUB, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
LINDA PETERSON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jan M. Adler U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS [Doc. No. 59]

This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Sanctions Against Plaintiff Leads Club, Inc. and Plaintiff's Counsel, James Bentson, brought by Defendants Linda Peterson and Victoria Taus ("Defendants") pursuant to Rule 16(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff did not file an opposition. The motion was referred to the undersigned for disposition on March 16, 2007. The Court decides the matter on the papers submitted and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1 d.1. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for sanctions IN PART.

BACKGROUND

On August 30, 2006, the Court issued a Notice and Order for Early Neutral Evaluation ("ENE") Conference to be held on September 28, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. See Aug. 30, 2006 Order, Doc. No. 57. On the morning of the scheduled conference, the undersigned's chambers received a telephone call from Lisa Chapman, Esq., counsel for Defendants, to advise that she and her clients, who were flying in from out of town to attend the conference, would be late for the conference because of the temporary closure of the airport in San Diego due to fog. The undersigned's chambers called the office of Plaintiff's counsel, Mr. Bentson, to advise counsel to appear at 10:30 a.m., rather than 10:00 a.m., for the scheduled conference.

Mr. Bentson did not appear for the conference until after 11:30 a.m., and he did not have a client representative with him, as required by the Court's ENE Conference Order. See Aug. 30, 2006 Order. Mr. Bentson reported to the Court that he thought he had been substituted out of the case, and thus did not have the scheduled conference on his calendar and had not contacted his client representative regarding her appearance for the conference. In short, Mr. Bentson was fully unprepared to discuss the case.

Defendants' counsel, Lisa Chapman, Esq., and Defendants Peterson and Taus are located in Northern California, and flew from there to San Diego to attend the ENE Conference. Chapman Decl. at ¶ 2. Ms. Chapman and her clients missed their flight back to Northern California, due to Mr. Bentson's tardiness at the conference, and had to wait at the airport for 2 1/2 hours. at ¶ 6. Defendants now seek monetary sanctions against Plaintiff and Mr. Bentson in the amount of $4,422.00 as compensation for the reasonable cost of attending the ENE Conference, based on the following fees and expenses:

Attorney's fees $3,780.00

(10.5 hours x $360 per hour)

Airplane tickets 594.00 (3 x $198.00 each)

Airport parking 30.00 Ground transportation in San Diego 18.00 at ¶ 7.

LEGAL STANDARDS

Rule 16(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in relevant part:

If a party or party's attorney fails to obey a scheduling or pretrial order, or if no appearance is made on behalf of a party at a scheduling or pretrial conference, or if a party or party's attorney is substantially unprepared to participate in the conference, or if a party or party's attorney fails to participate in good faith, the judge, upon motion or the judge's own initiative, may make such orders ...


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