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Carrie Hawecker, et al v. Rawland Leon Sorenson

June 27, 2012

CARRIE HAWECKER, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RAWLAND LEON SORENSON, DEFENDANT.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RAWLAND LEON SORENSON,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART THE GOVERNMENT'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS (Docs. 139, 140)

The Government seeks sanctions against Rawland Leon Sorenson ("Defendant") for failure to comply with the Court's discovery order. (Docs. 139-40). The Government requests Defendant be precluded from presenting any evidence or argument regarding his financial condition. Id. The Court heard argument regarding the motion on June 26, 2012. For the reasons set forth below, the Government's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

I. Procedural History

Plaintiffs Carrie Hawecker and Michelle Broussard initiated this action by filing a complaint 3 against Defendant on January 15, 2010. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs allege violations of the Fair Housing Act 4 (42 U.S.C. §§ 3604 and 3617), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (Cal. Gov. Code 5 § 12955, et seq.), and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq.), and the 6 California Business and Professions Code § 17200, et seq. (Doc. 1 at 9-10). In addition, Plaintiffs 7 raise claims for unfair business practices under the California Business and Professions Code § 17200, 8 et seq., and wrongful eviction under the California Code of Civil Procedure §§1159 and 1160. Id. at 9 10. Given these allegations, Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages. Id. at 11.

On March 25, 2011, the Government initiated a separate action against Defendant, alleging he violated the Fair Housing Act by engaging in a pattern or practice of sexually harassing female tenants and prospective tenants. (See United States of Am. v. Sorenson, Case. No. 1:11-cv-00511-OWW-JLTDoc. 1).*fn1 The Government filed a notice of the related case, and Plaintiffs moved to consolidate the cases. (Docs. 77-78). Plaintiffs' motion to consolidate was granted on April 29, 2012. (Doc. 89).

The Court issued a scheduling order for the consolidated action on June 20, 2011. (Doc. 95). Pursuant to the order, the parties were "to complete all discovery, including experts, on or before March 2, 2012." Id. at 6. During the course of discovery, the Government propounded interrogatories and requests for production of documents related to Defendant's financial condition and net worth. (Doc. 127 at 2). In addition, the Government served a Request to Permit Entry on February 21, 2012, requesting entry upon March 2, 2012, to which Defendant objected.

In compliance with the deadlines set forth in the Court's scheduling order, the Government filed the motion to compel discovery on March 16, 2012. (Doc. 116). The Government's motion was granted in part and denied in part on April 17, 2012. (Doc. 131). The Government's request for inspection of and entry onto Defendant's property was denied. Id. at 12. However, Defendant was 2 ordered to provide further responses to interrogatories and requests for production of documents 3 related to his financial net worth. Id. at 12-13. 4

On May 24, 2012, the Government filed a motion seeking sanctions for Defendant's failure to 5 comply with the Court's order (Doc. 139), which was amended on May 25, 2012. (Doc. 140). 6

Plaintiffs Carrie Hawecker and Michelle Broussard filed a notice of joinder to the motion on May 25, 7 2012. (Doc. 143). Although Defendant did not file an opposition to the motion, he was represented at 8 the hearing by counsel, who was appointed by the Court on June 5, 2012. 9

II. Legal Standards

Pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, if a party "fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery . . . the court where the action is pending may issue further just orders." Fed. R. Civ.

P. 37(b). "Just orders" may include the following:

(i) directing that the matters embraced in the order or other designated facts be taken as established for the purposes of the action, as the prevailing party claims;

(ii) prohibiting the disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated claims or defenses, or from introducing ...


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