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Project Sentinel v. Komar

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 9, 2019

PROJECT SENTINEL, Plaintiff,
v.
MEYER KOMAR; JEANETTE KOMAR; and SARAH KOMAR, Defendants.

          ORDER DISCHARGING ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY DEFENDANT MEYER KOMAR FAILED TO APPEAR AT SCHEDULING CONFERENCE (ECF NO. 12)

         On September 11, 2019, this Court issued an order to show cause requiring Defendant Meyer Komar to show cause for failing to comply with the Court's order requiring all parties to appear at the mandatory scheduling conference. (ECF No. 12.) On September 16, 2019, Mr. Komar filed his response. (ECF No. 13.) As discussed below, the Court finds that Mr. Komar has failed to provide an adequate justification for his failure to appear. Nonetheless, the Court declines to impose sanctions at this time, and discharges the order to show cause, but cautions Mr. Komar that any future violations of the Court's orders, failures to appear at court hearings, or failures to otherwise comply with Court procedures and rules, will be met with less tolerance and could result in the imposition of sanctions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 5, 2019, Plaintiff, Project Sentinel, filed this action against Defendants, Meyer Komar, Jeanette Komar, and Sarah Komar. (ECF No. 1.) In the Order Setting Mandatory Scheduling Conference, entered on May 21, 2019, the Court set an initial scheduling conference for September 10, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. (ECF No. 3-1.) The parties were instructed that attendance at the scheduling conference was mandatory. (Id. at 2 (“Attendance at the Scheduling Conference is mandatory for all parties. Parties may appear by their counsel, if represented. If a party is not represented by counsel, they must appear personally at the Scheduling Conference.”).) The parties were also advised: “Should counsel or a party appearing pro se fail to appear at the Mandatory Scheduling Conference . . . contempt sanctions, including monetary sanctions, dismissal, default, or other appropriate judgment, may be imposed and/or ordered.” (Id. at 7.) The parties were also provided instructions on how to attend the scheduling conference. (Id. at 1, 2.)

         On July 2, 2019, summons for Defendants were returned executed. (ECF Nos. 4, 5, 6.) The return of service for Mr. Komar demonstrates that he was personally served with the summons, complaint, and the Court's Order Setting Mandatory Scheduling Conference. (ECF No. 4.) On May 8, 2019, Mr. Komar filed an answer on his own behalf, and is proceeding pro se. (ECF No. 8.)

         On September 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Scheduling Report. (ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff represented in the Scheduling Report that its counsel has been in touch with Mr. Komar and received preliminary input from him, which Plaintiff included in the Scheduling Report. (ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff indicated that after this initial exchange with Mr. Komar, Plaintiff's counsel made subsequent attempts to contact Mr. Komar but that such attempts were unsuccessful. (Id.)

         The Court held the initial scheduling conference in this case on September 10, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. Plaintiff appeared telephonically through its counsel, Liza Cristol-Deman. Mr. Komar failed to appear for the hearing and did not file a request for a continuance or otherwise notify the Court that he would not be able to appear. The Court therefore issued an order to show cause requiring Mr. Komar to show cause why sanctions, up to and including entry of judgment against him, should not be issued for his failure to comply with the Court's order requiring him to appear at the mandatory scheduling conference. (ECF No. 12.)

         On September 16, 2019, Mr. Komar filed a response to the Court's order to show cause. (ECF No. 13.) In this response, Mr. Komar states:

I have previously informed the Project Sentinal attorney Liza-Cristal in writing that my family & I have NEVER refused to rent to a person of color. We currently have person of color as a tenant in one of our rentals.
Any attempt by Project Sentinal to prove that we are guilty of discrimination has not merit and can not be proven as there is no valid evidence supporting their charges.
I had informed Liza-Cristal in writing that I would not appear at any mediation meeting or conference or answer any future request for information but was prepared to appear and defend my family at trial if Project Sentinal moved the case to that level.
I did not appear at the September 10th, 2019 scheduling conference for the above stated reason that I am innocent of any and all of the Project Sentinal charges and did not wish to be subjected to further harrasment. If project Sentinal plans to move their case against me to trial I will represent and defend my family at that time.

(ECF No. 13.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that the Rules are to be “construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of” an action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 1. To effectuate this purpose, the Rules provide for sanctions against ...


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