Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Piazza v. Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 13, 2019

MICHAEL PIAZZA, JR.
v.
ASSOCIATED WHOLESALE GROCERS, INC.

         SECTION “H” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          KAREN WELLS ROBY, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion for Sanctions (Rec. Doc. 101)[1] filed by the Defendant seeking sanctions against the Plaintiff in the form of attorneys' fees and cost, dismissal of Plaintiff's Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) claims, or in the alternative, for an adverse jury instruction addressing Plaintiff's abuse of the discovery process and perjury. The motion is opposed. Rec. Doc. 52. The motion was heard with oral argument and supplemental briefs were required.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff, Michael Piazza, a former employee of Defendant, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (“AWG”), filed this action contending that his employer violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and the ADA when they refused to allow him time off for his lung condition. R. Doc. 1. According to Piazza, AWG allegedly threatened him with termination if he took time off. Id.

         In this motion, AWG contends that Piazza claims he was unable to work due to his medical condition and sought the assistance of a pulmonologist, Dr. Mark T. Knower. Piazza was absent from work from August 15, 2016 to October 3, 2016 as a result of his lung condition. R. Doc. 35-1, p. 2. According to AWG, Piazza contends that after his hospitalization due to pneumonia in August 2016, he was placed on light duty work by Dr. Knower. However, his treating physician, Dr. Knower, testified during his deposition that he released Piazza without restrictions to return to work and had not seen the plaintiff since the August 29, 2016. The only evidence thus far presented regarding whether Piazza was placed on light duty is Piazza's own deposition testimony when he claims that either Dr. Knower or Dr. Janine Parker placed him on a light duty limitation.

         Despite the fact that neither doctor recalls placing him on light duty, when Piazza tried to return to work on October 3, 2016, he presented a note to AWG indicating that he could return to light duty. AWG, however, rejected the note and refused to allow him to return to work requiring that he provide a letter from the treating physician. In this motion, AWG contends that despite this, the note produced by Piazza that day was forged and his testimony that he was placed on light duty constitutes perjury.

         AWG contends that it was severely prejudiced by expending time and resources to investigate and establish the Plaintiff's perjurious behavior. It therefore filed the subject motion, based on Piazza's alleged perjury, seeking the ultimate sanction of dismissal, reimbursement of its attorney's fees and costs incurred in the motion, or alternatively an adverse jury instruction. Id. at p. 1.

         Piazza opposes the motion contending that: (1) he produced all requested information in response to the discovery requests; (2) the note is not relevant to prove credibility, because the Plaintiff made use of the note and took no steps to conceal it; and (3) AWG cannot show that this evidence would have led him to being fired, because the Defendant admitted that it never had this record in its possession. Id. Trial in this matter and the consolidated cases is set to begin on July 12, 2019 before the District Judge.

         II. Standard of Review

         It is axiomatic that this court has the inherent power to impose sanctions, up to and including dismissal,

upon proof that a fraud has been perpetrated upon the court. . . . [This power] is necessary to the integrity of the courts, for tampering with the administration of justice in [this] manner . . . involves far more than an injury to a single litigant. It is a wrong against the institutions set up to protect and safeguard the public. . . .

Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 44 (1991) (quotations and citations omitted).

         However, “[b]ecause of their very potency, inherent powers must be exercised with restraint and discretion.” Id., at 44-45. The Supreme Court has further decreed that “[a] primary aspect of that discretion is the ability to fashion an appropriate sanction for conduct which abuses the judicial process. . . . [O]utright dismissal of a lawsuit . . . is a particularly severe sanction, yet is within the court's discretion.” Id. The Court further recognized that “the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.