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Brown v. Canyons School District

United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division

September 6, 2017

THOMAS BROWN, for C.B., a minor, Plaintiff,
v.
CANYONS SCHOOL DISTRICT, a Utah governmental entity; JOHN CARRELL, an individual; and JOHN DOES I-V, Defendants.

          DAVID NUFFER CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PAUL M. WARNER CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Chief District Judge David Nuffer referred this case to Chief Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).[1] Before the court are Defendant John Carrell's (“Carrell”) motion to dismiss[2] and Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment.[3] The court has carefully reviewed the written memoranda submitted by the parties. Pursuant to civil rule 7-1(f) of the Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Utah, the court has concluded that oral argument is not necessary and will determine the motions on the basis of the written memoranda. See DUCivR 7-1(f).

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         This case was removed from Utah state court on April 5, 2016.[4] On April 27, 2016, Carrell filed an answer to the complaint.[5]

         On September 1, 2016, Chief Judge Nuffer issued an order for a schedule, which required Plaintiff to propose a schedule for this case to Carrell on or before September 13, 2016, and required the parties to make initial disclosures on or before October 11, 2016.[6]

         On September 19, 2016, Carrell filed a motion to dismiss based upon Plaintiff's failure to prosecute this case, in which he alleged that he never received a proposed schedule from Plaintiff by the above-referenced deadline.[7] Accordingly, the court issued an order directing Plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute under rule 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.[8] Plaintiff was directed to respond to the court in writing on or before September 30, 2016.[9]

         On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a response indicating that he was unsure about how to proceed under the court's September 1, 2016 order, given that Carrell is proceeding pro se and is currently incarcerated.[10] Along with the response, Plaintiff filed a proposed scheduling order.[11]

         On September 26, 2016, the court ordered Carrell to respond to the proposed scheduling order.[12] After receiving Carrell's response, the court denied Carrell's motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute[13] and entered a scheduling order.[14] The scheduling order contained the same deadline previously ordered by the court for initial disclosures, October 11, 2016.[15] It appears that Plaintiff did not provide his initial disclosures to Carrell by that deadline. However, Plaintiff now indicates that his initial disclosures were provided to Carrell on November 9, 2016.[16]

         On November 9, 2016, Carrell filed the motion to dismiss before the court.[17] On November 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed the motion for partial summary judgment before the court.[18]

         ANALYSIS

         I. Carrell's Motion to Dismiss

         The thrust of Carrell's motion is that this action should be dismissed based upon Plaintiff's failure to provide initial disclosures and prosecute this case in a timely fashion. Plaintiff bases his motion upon rules 37(b)(2)(A) and 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         In relevant part, rule 37(b)(2)(A) provides that if a party “fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, . . . the court where the action is pending may issue further just orders.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A). That rule goes on to provide certain orders that may be issued, including “dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(v). In pertinent part, rule 41(b) provides that “[i]f the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order, a defendant may move to dismiss the action or any claim against it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).

         “A district court undoubtedly has discretion to sanction a party for failing to prosecute or defend a case, or for failing to comply with local or federal procedural rules.” Reed v. Bennett, 312 F.3d 1190, 1195 (10th Cir. 2002).

The court's discretion includes dismissing a case for discovery violations. Dismissal is a severe sanction; therefore, it should be imposed only if a lesser sanction would not serve the ends of justice. The district court should consider the following factors when considering whether dismissal is an appropriate sanction: (1) the degree of actual prejudice to the opposing party, (2) the degree of interference with the judicial process, (3) the litigant's culpability, (4) whether the ...

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