United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
L.G., as the parent and natural guardian of JANE DOE, a minor, Plaintiff,
CARRIE BROCK, MACK BURGESS, HESTER GADSDEN, and WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants.
Matthew T. Douglas Attorneys for Plaintiff.
L. Williams Attorneys for Defendants.
BRYAN HARWELL, JADGE.
matter is before the Court following a teleconference between
the parties and the Court regarding Defendants' failure
to timely answer and respond to Plaintiff's discovery
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
a Title IX and 1983 action arising from alleged student on
student sexual harassment and discrimination. On August 17,
2018, Plaintiff served the Defendants with Plaintiff's
First Set of Interrogatories and Plaintiff's First Set of
Requests for Production. Following several consultations
between the parties, Plaintiff's counsel contacted the
Court to schedule an informal telephone conference to address
the outstanding discovery issues consistent with this
Court's requirement that the parties engage in an
informal teleconference with the Court prior to the filing of
a discovery motion. On November 2, 2018, the informal
conference was held which resulted in the Court entering a
Text Entry (Dkt. No. 19) which stated, in part, that the
“call concluded with Defendants agreeing to produce the
requested discovery by November 17, 2018.”
November 28, 2018, the Defendants electronically forwarded
Plaintiff's counsel some, but not all, responsive
documents. As of the date of this order, the Defendants have
not served the Plaintiff with any formal Responses to
Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Production nor any
answers to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories.
January 4, 2019, the Court held another informal
teleconference call with the parties' counsel regarding
Plaintiff's still-outstanding discovery requests. In
response thereto, the Court filed a Text Entry (Dkt. No. 22)
which states, in part, as follows, “The Court suggested
the parties attempt to reach a consent order to resolve the
discovery-related delays/issues, and that consent order could
provide for an appropriate sanction for
noncompliance….If the parties cannot reach an
agreement on a consent order, Plaintiff may file an
appropriate motion.” This order comes in response to
the parties' consultation.
Civ. P. 37 (“Rule 37”) permits the district court
to enter orders compelling discovery and to impose an array
of sanctions for the failure to comply with such orders.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A). Rule 37(b)(2)(A) governs the
appropriate sanctions for failure to obey a discovery order,
stating in pertinent part: “If a party...fails to obey
an order to provide or permit discovery...the court...may
issue further just orders...[including]... dismissing the
action or proceeding in whole or in part; rendering a default
judgment against the disobedient party; or treating as
contempt of court the failure to obey any order....”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A). “In exercising its discretion
to select sanctions appropriate to the particular violation,
however, the district court should consider four factors: (1)
whether the noncomplying party acted in bad faith; (2) the
amount of prejudice his noncompliance caused his adversary,
which necessarily includes an inquiry into the materiality of
the evidence he failed to produce; (3) the need for
deterrence of the particular sort of noncompliance; and (4)
the effectiveness of less drastic sanctions.”
McKenna v. Sovran Bank NA, 836 F.2d 546, 1987 WL
30159, at *3 (4th Cir. 1987) (citations omitted). “A
district court must consider all of these factors; however,
no one factor is dispositive.” Elmore v. City of
Greenwood, C/A No. 3:13-cv-01755-TLW-KDW, 2015 WL
3868068, at *7 (D.S.C. June 23, 2015) (quoting Cox v.
Deal, No. CIV. 2:09-CV-2715, 2011 WL 3418397, at *5
(D.S.C. Aug. 3, 2011)).
considering what sanctions are appropriate, the court must
focus on determining a sanction that fits the case at hand,
considering the potential harm to the party seeking discovery
and the conduct of the non-producing party.”
Ashmore v. Allied Energy, Inc., No.
8:14-CV-00227-JMC, 2016 WL 2898007, at *3 (D.S.C. May 18,
2016) (quoting Taylor v. Specialty Mktg., Inc., No.
91-3053, 1993 WL 21080, at *2 (4th Cir. Feb. 2, 1993)).
Defendants have agreed to serve the Plaintiff with full and
complete Answers to Interrogatories and Responses to Requests
for Production on or before January 21, 2019. In the event
the Defendants fail to meet this deadline, the Defendants
shall be imposed sanctions that shall include the following:
(i) attorney's fees and costs related to the
Defendants' failure to timely produce discovery responses
and (ii) any other sanction deemed appropriate by the Court
under the circumstances.
considering the four pertinent factors and determining a
sanction that fits the case at hand in connection with the
undisputed procedural background giving rise to this matter,
this Court finds that the sanctions set forth above are
reasonable, appropriate and necessary in the event the
Defendants fail to meet the January 21, 2019 deadline. This
order does not preclude the Plaintiff from ...