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McClure v. Prisoner Transportation Services of America, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 3, 2019

TERRY RENEE MCCLURE and DUSTIN HUBBARD, Plaintiffs,
v.
PRISONER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES OF AMERICA, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO COMPEL DISCOVERY RESPONSES AND GRANTING IN PART REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS (DOC. 89)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On July 30, 2019, Defendants Leticia Monique Avalos and Fausto Avalos (“Defendants”) filed a motion to compel Plaintiff Terry Renee McClure (“McClure”) to respond to discovery requests. (Doc. 89.) Defendants' motion is based on McClure's complete and total failure to respond to discovery requests served on May 3, 2019. (Id. at 2.) McClure filed an untimely[1]response in opposition to Defendants' request for sanctions on August 10, 2019. (Doc. 92.) Defendants filed a reply brief on August 12, 2019. (Doc. 93.)

         After having reviewed the motion and supporting documents, the matter was deemed suitable for decision without oral argument, and the Court vacated the hearing set for August 14, 2019. (Doc. 91.) For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion to compel is GRANTED and the request for appropriate sanctions is GRANTED IN PART.

         II. PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On February 1, 2018, McClure filed a complaint against Defendants Prisoner Transportation Services of America, LLC, Cleveland Robert Wheeler, Leticia Monique Avalos, and Fausto Avalos, alleging causes of action for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 1.) The allegations of the complaint are related to a car accident that occurred on July 8, 2016, involving a van operated by Prison Transportation Services of America, LLC and driven by Cleveland Robert Wheeler, and a car driven by Leticia Avalos and owned by Fausto Avalos. (Id. at 2-9.) McClure was a passenger in the van operated by Prison Transportation Services of America, LLC, at the time of the accident. (Id. at 2-3.) McClure seeks special damages, general damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. (Id. at 22-23.) On January 9, 2019, a Second Amended Complaint was filed, adding Plaintiff Dustin Hubbard as a party. (Doc. 65.) On May 22, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint. (Doc. 83.)

         The Court held a scheduling conference on January 17, 2019, and entered its Scheduling Order on January 18, 2019. (See Doc. 67.) The Scheduling Order set the non-expert discovery deadline for November 15, 2019, the non-dispositive motions deadline for January 17, 2020, the dispositive motions deadline for January 31, 2020, and a trial date of July 21, 2020. (Id.)

         On May 3, 2019, Defendants served their first set of Special Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions, and Requests for Production on McClure, making McClure's responses due by no later than June 3, 2019. (Doc. 89-1 at 1-2, 6-12, 14-18, 20-24.) McClure failed to respond by the deadline and failed to request an informal extension from counsel for Defendants or communicate with opposing counsel regarding the requests. (Id. at 2.) On June 13, 2019, Defendants' counsel sent an email and letter to McClure's counsel, attorney Stratton Scott Barbee, requesting that responses be provided by no later than June 24, 2019. (Id.) On June 14, 2019, an assistant to McClure's counsel emailed Defendants' counsel that McClure was working to provide discovery responses, but gave no indication of when the responses would be provided. (Id. at 2, 29.)

         On June 25, 2019, Defendants' counsel called McClure's counsel to meet and confer regarding McClure's discovery responses. (Id. at 2.) During that conversation, McClure's counsel told Defendants' counsel full and complete responses would be served on or before July 5, 2019. (Id. at 2-3.) Defendants' counsel attached to the motion to compel an email to McClure's counsel memorializing the conversation. (Id. at 32.) Defendants' counsel also stated she would allow an additional 14 days, until July 19, 2019, for verifications (separate from the responses themselves) signed by McClure to be mailed to Defendants' counsel, due to McClure's incarceration. (See id.) McClure did not provide responses by the agreed deadline of July 5, 2019. (Id. at 3.)

         On July 10, 2019, Defendants' counsel emailed McClure's counsel, seeking responses by no later than July 15, 2019. (Id.) Although McClure's counsel's assistant responded that they had nearly completed the responses, McClure failed to provide responses by July 15, 2019. (Id.)

         On July 16, 2019, Defendants' counsel emailed McClure's counsel to request that McClure's discovery responses be provided by the end of the day and stated that “[f]ailure to do so will result in an immediate motion seeking responses as well as all appropriate sanctions.” (Id. at 47.) McClure failed to provide responses by the end of the day on July 16, 2019. (Id. at 3.)

         On July 22, 2019, McClure's counsel, who also represents Plaintiff Dustin Hubbard, provided discovery responses as to Hubbard to Defendants' counsel. (Doc. 92 at 3.) No responses as to McClure were provided. (See id.; Doc. 89-1 at 3.) On July 29, 2019, Defendants' counsel sent a letter to McClure's counsel acknowledging receipt of the responses as to Hubbard, but did not mention the outstanding discovery requests as to McClure. (See Doc. 92 at 11-12.)

         To date, McClure has not served responses to the May 3, 2019, discovery requests. (See Doc. 89-1 at 3.)

         III. ...


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