United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
WELLS ROBY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Sanctions (R. Doc.
15) filed by Defendants Mix Bros.Tank Services, Inc.
(“Mix Bros.”) and Dave Morrison
“Defendants”) seeking an order from the Court
sanctioning Plaintiffs Kellie Register
(“Register”) and her minor daughter T.R.
(“T.R.”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”)
for failing to obey the Court's prior order (R.Doc. 13).
The motion was submitted on June 7, 2017 and heard with oral
argument on June 14, 2017. For the following reasons, the
motion is GRANTED.
action was removed from the 29th Judicial District Court for
the Parish of St. Charles on January 11, 2017. R. Doc. 1. The
Plaintiffs allege that Register was employed by Mix Bros. for
approximately eight years and was permitted to have T.R.
accompany her to work during summer vacation. R. Doc. 1-1, p.
2. On or about June 1, 2016, while the Plaintiffs where
located at the offices of Mix Bros, Defendant John Kenny
(“Kenny”) threw a snap pop, which is a small
pyrotechnic object, at T.R. The snap pop exploded near
T.R.'s face and caused her fear of harm to her body.
Id. at p. 3. At the time, both Kenny and Morrison
laughed at T.R.'s reaction. The following day, Register
confronted Morrision about the incident; however, Morrison
allegedly insulted the Plaintiffs in response and ordered
them to leave. Id. Register did not return to work
the next day after informing Morrison that she could not
return because of emotional distress, anxiety, and concern
for her daughter. Id. Register was allegedly
terminated thereafter. Id.
Plaintiffs also alleged that Morrison sexually assaulted
Register in May 2016 when he approached her and made
non-consensual contact while placing and removing a stack of
papers from Register's chest. Id.
Plaintiffs also allege that Register has a documented history
of anxiety, depression, and related mental health issues
which were frequently triggered by Morrison screaming in the
office and insulting women. Id. at p. 4. Plaintiffs
further allege that Register respectfully requested
accommodations from Morrison, but that she was denied any
accommodation and further subjected to abuse and harassment
until her termination. Id. Plaintiffs also state
that Register complained about Morrison to another immediate
supervisor as well as personnel in Mix Bros.'s Canada
office, but no remedial action was taken. Id. For
all the foregoing, the Plaintiffs have asserted claims
against the Defendants for negligence, violations of the
Family Medical Leave Act, sexual harassment, and a host other
state and federal law claims.
time, the Defendants have filed a Motion for Sanctions
seeking to have the Plaintiffs sanctioned for failing to obey
a discovery order issued by this Court. R. Doc. 15. On May
23, 2017, the undersigned issued an order to the Plaintiffs
to respond to the Defendants' First Sets of
Interrogatories and First Sets of Requests for Production of
Documents no later than ten days from the issuance of that
order. R. Doc. 13, p. 4. At this time, the Defendants state
that the Plaintiffs have responded only with inadequate
responses to the First Set of Interrogatories to Plaintiff
Kellie Register, but have not responded to the First Set of
Requests for Production of Documents to both Plaintiffs nor
the First Set of Interrogatories to Plaintiff T.R. R. Doc.
15-1, p. 2. As such, the Defendants seek sanctions under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, including dismissal and
an award of attorneys' fees. R. Doc. 15, p. 1.
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b)(2) empowers a district court to
impose ‘just' sanctions on parties who disobey a
discovery order.” F.D.I.C. v. Conner, 20 F.3d
1376, 1380 (5th Cir. 1994). While this power is
“considerable, ” it is “not unlimited,
” and the Court must exercise “discretion in
fashioning appropriate penalties for those who disobey”
discovery orders. Id. (citing Chilcutt v. United
States, 4 F.3d 1313, 1320 (5th Cir. 1993)).
Rule 37(b)(2), the Court “may issue further just
(i) directing that the matters embraced in the order or other
designated facts be taken as established for purposes of the
action, as the prevailing party claims; (ii) prohibiting the
disobedient party from supporting or opposing designated
claims or defenses, or from introducing designated matters in
evidence; (iii) striking pleadings in whole or in part; (iv)
staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed; (v)
dismissing the action or proceeding in whole or in part; (vi)
rendering a default judgment against the disobedient party;
or (vii) treating as contempt of court the failure to obey
any order except an order to submit to a physical or mental
Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A). Additionally, the Court “must
order the disobedient party, the attorney advising that
party, or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including
attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the
failure was substantially justified or other circumstances
make an award of expenses unjust.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
the Defendants have filed a motion requesting that the Court
sanction the Plaintiffs for failing to comply with the
Court's prior discovery order. R. Doc. 15. In particular,
the Defendants seek either the dismissal of the instant
action or ...