United States District Court, D. Nevada
ROBERT A. GREENE, et al., Plaintiff(s),
ALAN WAXLER GROUP CHARTER SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendant(s)
ORDER DENYING IN PART MOTION FOR SANCTIONS (Docket No. 185)
NANCY J. KOPPE, Magistrate Judge.
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for sanctions. Docket No. 185. Defendants filed a response and Plaintiffs filed a reply. Docket Nos. 190, 194. The Court finds the motion properly decided without oral argument. See Local Rule 78-2. For the reasons discussed more fully below, the Court hereby DENIES the motion in part.
As an initial matter, the Court notes that the motion seeks sanctions both for alleged discovery violations under Rule 37 and for alleged vexatious conduct under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and Rule 11. See Docket No. 185 at 19-20. This order addresses only the request for sanctions under Rule 37, and a separate order will be issued addressing the request for sanctions under 28 U.S.C. § 1927 and Rule 11.
This is a wage and hour lawsuit brought on behalf of limousine drivers, filed in 2009. Although an exact date is not clear from the record, initial disclosures appear to have been due in early 2010. See Docket No. 171 at 1 & n.2. The Court subsequently extended the discovery cutoff on two occasions, but discovery closed on June 30, 2011. See Docket No. 69. On October 25, 2013, Defendants filed a motion for discovery sanctions seeking, inter alia, case-dispositive sanctions against Plaintiffs for failing to provide initial disclosures. See Docket No. 149. The undersigned granted the sanctions motion in part, but denied the requested case-dispositive sanctions. See Docket No. 171. Judge Mahan has recently denied Defendants' motion to reconsider that order. See Docket No. 196.
In the interim, Plaintiffs brought their own motion for discovery-related sanctions. Plaintiffs assert that discovery sanctions should be imposed against Defendants because (1) Defendants failed to supplement their responses to discovery requests; and (2) Defendants failed to provide initial disclosures. Plaintiffs' motion for discovery sanctions is the motion currently before the Court.
Plaintiffs make two overarching arguments in support of their motion for discovery sanctions. First, they argue that Defendants failed to supplement their responses to Plaintiffs' propounded discovery requests. Second, they argue that Defendants failed to provide initial disclosures. The Court addresses each argument in turn below.
A. Failure to Supplement Discovery Responses
On or about February 22, 2011, Defendants responded to various discovery requests propounded by Plaintiffs. See Docket Nos. 185-4, 185-5. Plaintiffs argue that Defendants should be sanctioned for failing to supplement these discovery responses. In particular, Plaintiffs argue that Defendants violated their obligation to supplement because they failed to provide class-wide information following the order certifying the class in this case. See Docket No. 185 at 9-14. Defendants counter by asserting that class-wide information was not sought in the initial discovery propounded, so they had no duty to supplement. Docket No. 190 at 6.
As an initial matter, although Plaintiffs refer to serving requests for admission, requests for production, and interrogatories, they do not identify with specificity which discovery requests they contend required supplementation following class certification. See Docket No. 185 at 8. Nonetheless, the focus of Plaintiffs' arguments relate to class-wide wage-and-hour records, see, e.g., Docket No. 185 at 3, so the Court will focus its analysis on the requests for production seeking such information.
Problematically for Plaintiffs, however, the relevant requests for production were limited to the named Plaintiffs and did not seek documents related to the claims of absent class members. See, e.g., Request for Production 1 (Docket No. 185-3) (seeking time sheets for "each of the plaintiffs named in the consolidated action of Sam Baum, et al. v. Alan Waxler, et al. (Consolidated Case No. 2:09-cv-00914) (Baum Plaintiffs')"). An obvious predicate to an obligation to supplement is that the information at issue was actually sought in the first place; the supplementation requirements in Rule 26(e) do not require "that a party volunteer information not fairly encompassed by the earlier request." Bowers v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 475 F.3d 524, 540 (3d Cir. 2007) (quoting In re Air Crash Disaster, 86 F.3d 498, 539 (6th Cir. 1996)). Defendants did not violate any obligation to supplement their discovery responses with class-wide information because such information was not sought in the discovery that was propounded. Accordingly, to the extent Plaintiffs seek sanctions for Defendants' purported failure to supplement their discovery responses with class-wide information, the motion is DENIED.
B. Failure to Provide Initial Disclosures
Plaintiffs also argue that Defendants failed to provide initial disclosures. When a party fails to meet its initial disclosure obligations, the Court turns to Rule 37(c) to determine whether sanctions are appropriate. Rule 37(c)(1) provides that a non-compliant party is "not allowed to use the information... at trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or harmless." The party facing the sanction has the burden of showing substantial ...