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Williams v. Johanns

July 26, 2007

ROBERT WILLIAMS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MIKE JOHANNS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case was referred to me for all discovery disputes. Plaintiffs have recently filed several motions for consideration, including (1) Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of Imposition of Sanctions Against Plaintiffs and Counsel for Failure to Respond to Discovery; (2) Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Reconsideration of Imposition of Sanctions Against Plaintiffs and Counsel for Failure to Respond to Discovery ("Pls. Amend. Recon."); (3) Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Witness List and Respectful Request for Expedited Ruling ("Pls. Mot. Wit."); and (4) Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Leave to File Witness List and Respectful Request for Expedited Ruling ("Pls. Amend. Wit."). For the reasons stated below, the requests for expedited rulings will be granted; the initial motion for reconsideration of sanctions will be denied as moot in light of the amended motion for reconsideration of the same, and the amended motion for reconsideration and the requests to file witness lists will be denied. The Court will also order the Clerk to send a copy of this Memorandum Opinion and accompanying Order directly to Plaintiffs Laverne and Robert Williams to ensure they understand that the sanctions imposed are due entirely to the conduct of their counsel and do not result from any judgment on the merits of their case.

I. BACKGROUND

The motions before me are the culmination of a unique and incredible discovery process. To understand them, and what happened during discovery, one has to put them in the context of this case's history. I have provided that history in an Appendix to this opinion. See Appendix ("App."). That history establishes that:

1. Plaintiffs' counsel is unaware of the most fundamental principles of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure pertaining to (1) the timeliness of an answer to a complaint while a motion to dismiss is pending; (2) the response time for discovery requests; and (3) counsel's obligation to certify discovery responses. App. ¶¶ 4-5, 12, 15, 25, 29-30, 52, 54.

2. Plaintiffs' counsel failed to provide reasons to support his motions for additional time to perform certain acts after having been ordered to do so by the court. He also failed to provide proper case citations, references to the federal rules on which he relied, and relevant legal standards. App. ¶¶ 2, 5, 9, 14, 55.

3. Plaintiffs' counsel violated the confidentiality of settlement discussions. App. ¶ 24.

4. Plaintiffs' counsel failed to follow court directives to refile pleadings that had been filed incorrectly and correctly filed the pleadings only after the deadline for filing had elapsed. App. ¶¶ 32-33.

5. Plaintiffs' counsel failed to cooperate with opposing counsel in scheduling times and locations for depositions and independent medical examinations. Plaintiffs' counsel's repeated failure to respond to opposing counsel's inquiries for scheduling such times and locations resulted in unnecessary delays and motions to quash and required intervention by this Court. App. ¶¶ 27-29, 31, 33-34, 43.

6. Plaintiffs' counsel failed, on multiple occasions, to respond to Defendants' discovery according to federal and local rules, then, on at least two separate occasions, by court-imposed deadlines, as well as at least two self-imposed deadlines. Plaintiffs' counsel likewise repeatedly failed to move to extend the time within which he had to respond prior to the passing of the relevant deadlines. App. ¶¶ 15, 20, 26, 29-30, 36, 38, 40, 43, 49, 54.

7. Plaintiffs' counsel failed to comply with a court order to consult with government counsel to submit a joint discovery plan before a date specified by the Court. App. ¶¶ 38-39.

8. Plaintiff's counsel failed to prepare to propound discovery of any kind whatsoever on the Defendants until at least March of 2007.*fn1 App. ¶¶ 49-50.

9. Plaintiffs' counsel failed to pursue depositions of certain high-level officials according to proper procedure and regulations, and he tried to circumvent the process by which such depositions are taken. App. ¶¶ 54, 56-57.

Nonetheless, Plaintiffs' counsel has asked the Court to reconsider sanctions imposed for repeatedly and blatantly violating court orders, even as he continued to violate the very court orders he ...


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