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Zaic v. Giddens

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 23, 2017

JOYCE ZAIC, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL GIDDENS, an individual, and TIMOTHY WALL, an individual, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS (ECF No. 55) ORDER DENYING AS MOOT ZAIC'S MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY (ECF No. 53) ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (ECF No. 48)

          ANDREW P. GORDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joyce Zaic sued College of Southern Nevada police officers Michael Giddens and Timothy Wall for Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations arising from her 2012 arrest. The defendants move for case-ending sanctions based on Zaic's failure to comply with the court's discovery timeline. Zaic moves to stay discovery. In the alternative, the defendants move for reconsideration of Judge Boulware's order granting in part and denying in part their motion to dismiss and denying their motion for summary judgment.

         I find that Zaic did not comply with the discovery process in good faith, despite a warning from Judge Boulware that failure to do so could result in dismissal of the case. I therefore grant the defendants' motion for case-dispositive sanctions. I deny Zaic's motion to stay discovery as moot. To correct the record regarding a point of law in the prior order, I grant in part and deny in part the defendants' motion for reconsideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         I adopt the factual and procedural background described by Judge Boulware in his prior order. ECF No. 46. In that order, Judge Boulware wrote,

discovery shall reopen for 60 days until October 24, 2016. Written discovery must be propounded by September 6, 2016 and responded to by September 20, 2016. . . . All depositions must be noticed by September 30, 2016 and scheduled to be completed within the discovery period. . . . If Plaintiff does not properly engage in discovery in good faith the Court may issue case-dispositive sanctions.

Id. at 10.

         II. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS

         The defendants move to dismiss the case because Zaic failed to comply with Judge Boulware's discovery order. “If a party . . . fails to obey an order to provide . . . discovery, . . . the court . . . may . . . (v) dismiss[] the action or proceeding in whole or in part.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(C).

         The defendants contend that despite Judge Boulware's warnings, Zaic failed to engage in good faith in the discovery process that Judge Boulware laid out. Zaic refused to consent to be contacted by the defendants' counsel by telephone or email, instead requiring that discovery communications be sent to a post office box that she designated for this case. ECF No. 57 at 6. Zaic then neglected to pick up at least five documents from that box, which caused the documents to be returned as “undeliverable.” Id. at 2. Zaic failed to appear at her scheduled deposition, and she never told the defendants she would not attend or was unavailable. ECF No. 55 at 4. Because of Zaic's dilatory tactics, the 60-day discovery period elapsed with important issues unresolved. Id. at 5.

         Judge Boulware held a hearing on January 26, 2017 on all three motions at issue in this order, but recused himself before he could issue a decision. As to the failure to pick up the documents the defendants sent, Zaic vacillated as to whether she had picked up the documents, [1]but concluded that it was unimportant because she could access them through PACER. Judge Boulware responded that many documents are not filed in PACER, which Zaic should have known given her over two years of experience in this lawsuit. Asked why she failed to attend her scheduled deposition, Zaic stated she wanted discovery put on hold while the court considered the defendants' motion for reconsideration. Judge Boulware responded that Zaic was not entitled to unilaterally stay discovery without an order from the court, which he had not issued.

         I agree with Judge Boulware that Zaic's explanations for her conduct in the discovery process are inadequate. This is especially true given that Zaic was put on notice to comply with Judge Boulware's discovery timeline in good faith because of her earlier failures to comply with discovery rules. Judge Boulware also notified Zaic that he would likely dismiss the case if she did not comply. I therefore find that dismissal is just and appropriate under Rule 37(b)(2)(C).

         III. ZAIC'S MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY

         Because I grant the defendants' motion for case-dispositive sanctions, ...


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