United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
E. Fallon U.S. District Court Judge.
the Court is a motion seeking reconsideration of the
Court's dismissal of Civil Action Number 16-13346,
Bolton v. International Paper as a result of
Plaintiff's failure to comply with several court orders,
including a rule to show cause why this action should not be
dismissed. R. Doc. 78. The Motion is opposed. R. Doc. 81. The
Court heard oral argument on the Motion on April 3, 2019.
case is one in a series of class actions arising out of
injuries allegedly sustained by Plaintiffs as a result of an
eruption at the Bogalusa Paper Mill on June 10, 2015. R. Doc.
1-2 at 1. Following the incident, Plaintiffs filed four
separate class actions in state court, which Defendant
International Paper Company subsequently removed to this
Court. In each action, Plaintiffs assert claims
against Defendant for failure to provide complete and
accurate information about the chemical composition and known
risks presented by “black liquor, ” the chemical
allegedly discharged from a ruptured evaporator tank. R. Doc.
1-2 at 1. Relevant to the instant motion is the case brought
by Jamia Bolton, Bolton v. International Paper Co.
No. 16-13346. Ms. Bolton is represented by Mr. Barry Bolton.
the Court's December 2018 telephone status conference,
the Court ordered the parties to pick four individual
Plaintiffs' cases that would proceed to trial.
Thereafter, Magistrate Judge van Meerveld advised the Court
that Mr. Bolton had not been participating in status
conferences set before her and that he had not been
responding to Defendants' discovery requests. This became
an issue for all parties, as one of Mr. Bolton's
purported clients, Ms. Patrice Belton, had been selected as
one of the Plaintiffs in the upcoming Bellweather trial.
Notably, since this action was removed to this Court in 2016,
Mr. Bolton has made an appearance at only four out of
twenty-four status conferences.
result of Mr. Bolton's failure to participate and
Defendant's motion to dismiss Ms. Belton's claims for
failure to prosecute, R. Doc. 71, the Court issued a Rule to
Show Cause on February 21, 2019, ordering Mr. Bolton to
appear before the Court to explain his failure to respond to
opposing counsel and comply with the Court's orders, R.
Doc. 72. This was Mr. Bolton's second rule to show cause.
See R. Doc. 9 (ordering Mr. Bolton to show cause for
his failure to participate in a status conference). Mr.
Bolton failed to appear, and the Court dismissed his case. R.
Doc. 76. On March 21, 2019, Mr. Bolton filed a motion seeking
reconsideration, arguing that he had not received notice of
the Rule, nor had he received any other Court orders. R. Doc.
78. Notably, Mr. Bolton confirmed that the email address
listed on the docket was correct. Id. The Court set
the motion for oral argument. R. Doc. 80.
March 26, 2019, Defendant International Paper filed an
opposition, arguing that allowing Mr. Bolton to reopen this
case would be prejudicial to them, given his repeated
failures to comply with the Court's orders and discovery.
Defendant also points out that Mr. Bolton's conduct has
been an issue since the case was removed in 2016.
Specifically, it points to:
1. October 13, 2016, when the Court required Mr. Bolton to
explain his reason for being absent from a status conference
and why he should not be held in contempt for that absence
and ordered Mr. Bolton to explain why his case should not be
dismissed for failure to prosecute. R. Doc. 9.
2. June 15, 2018, after Mr. Bolton filed three deficient
pleadings, the Court ordered “that before filing
further pleadings Plaintiffs' counsel shall familiarize
himself with the Federal and Local Rules and the Courts'
electronic filing system.” R. Doc. 39. Mr. Bolton has
since filed several deficient documents.
3. The February 8, 2019 status conference before Magistrate
Judge van Meerveld, during which Judge van Meerveld ordered
Plaintiffs to provide Defendant with written discovery
responses by February 12, 2019; Mr. Bolton failed to appear
at the status conference and failed to comply with Judge van
Meerveld's order. R. Doc. 69.
Defendant represents that Mr. Bolton has not propounded
discovery on Defendant since 2016. R. Doc. 81 at 2. Thus,
Defendant contends, Mr. Bolton will be unable to prosecute
his claims against it. Id.
Bolton's main defense of his failure to participate in
discovery is that he never received notice from the Court
regarding any status conferences, orders, or the rule ...