Doug Austin: Defendants’ Attorney Directed to Pay Expenses Due to Failing to Comply with Order

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Extract from Doug Austin’s article “Defendants’ Attorney Directed to Pay Expenses Due to Failing to Comply with Order: eDiscovery Case Law”

The shark image can only mean one thing – it’s time for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel!  Which also means it’s time for eDiscovery Case Week on eDiscovery Today, where we’ll cover five cases in the next five days!  In Heath v. Vill. of Cent. City, No. 3:22-cv-3120-DWD (S.D. Ill. June 14, 2024), Illinois District Judge David W. Dugan granted the plaintiff’s motion for sanctions in part, ordering Defendants’ attorney “to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, associated with Plaintiff’s preparation of the Motion for Sanctions” for failing to timely comply with the Court’s Discovery Order.

Case Background

In this case, the parties submitted a Joint Written Discovery Report (JWDR) and a Supplemental JWDR, but these failed to comply with the Court’s Case Management Procedures, so the parties were directed to meet, confer, and further report on their discovery disputes in a compliant JWDR. The parties did so; therefore, Plaintiff was granted leave to file a Motion to Compel and Defendants had until April 1, 2024, to file a Response. Plaintiff filed its Motion to Compel on March 20, 2024, but Defendant did not file a Response. On April 19, 2024, the Court resolved Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel largely in his favor. Defendants were directed to take nine specific actions toward compliance in discovery.

Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, claiming that Defendants failed to comply with eight of the nine directives from the Court’s Discovery Order. They requested the following sanctions: (1) bar Defendants from using or mentioning Karlie Patten’s written complaints, or their contents, about Plaintiff; (2) again order Defendants to fully comply, within 5 days, with the directives in ¶¶ 2-8 of its Discovery Order at Doc. 38; (3) deem it admitted by Defendants that “[b]etween April 5, 2021, and April 21, 2021, plaintiff and Mayor Buchanan decided that Officer Patten’s discipline would be a one-day suspension and write-up”; (4) grant Plaintiff 5 days to review and assess Defendants’ attempted compliance with (2); and (5) order Defendants to pay Plaintiff the attorney fees associated with his attempts to secure compliance in discovery.

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