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Springer v. Hunt

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 28, 2019

RUTH-ANN SPRINGER, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER BRIAN HUNT, ET AL., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS HUNT, WAKITA, TINGLE, TAVARES, AND ISHII'S MOTION FOR TERMINATING SANCTIONS, ECF NO. 182

          J. MICHAEL SEABRIGHT CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendants Officer Brian Hunt, Sergeant Wakita, Sergeant Tingle, Officer Shaine Tavares, and Officer Kenneth Ishii's (collectively, “Defendants”) Motion for terminating sanctions (“Motion”) for Plaintiff's failure to comply with an August 28, 2018 discovery order, ECF No. 124, (the “August 28 Order”). ECF No. 182. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         This case arises from State of Hawaii foreclosure and eviction, and subsequent criminal, proceedings against Plaintiff. Plaintiff asserts claims against Defendants for unlawful seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and state-law claims for assault and battery and intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress. ECF No. 1.

         The instant Motion arises from a discovery dispute and a July 10, 2018 Order compelling Plaintiff to respond to an interrogatory, produce certain documents, and authorize the disclosure of medical information. See ECF No. 104. The July 10, 2018 Order warned Plaintiff that failure to comply by July 24, 2018, may result in the imposition of sanctions. Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff wrote a letter to the court and filed documents opposing disclosure of private medical information, discussing her health condition, and/or seeking extensions of time to meet various deadlines. See ECF Nos. 106, 110, 115, 121, 122. The court issued orders recognizing that Plaintiff “regularly flouts rules and deadlines, ” reminding Plaintiff that she must comply with all deadlines and the Local Rules, warning that failure to comply with the rules may result in sanctions, and advising Plaintiff that if she wishes to obtain an extension of a particular deadline, she must submit a formal request in advance. See ECF Nos. 107, 112, 123.

         On July 31, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Sanctions based on Plaintiff's failure to comply with the July 10, 2018 Order, ECF No. 113, which was granted in part and denied in part on August 28, 2018. ECF No. 124. The August 28, 2018 Order directed Plaintiff to comply, by September 4, 2018, with the discovery previously ordered, imposed a sanction against Plaintiff of Defendants' fees and costs in an amount to be determined, and directed Defendants' counsel to submit a declaration of the fees and costs reasonably incurred in connection with the Motion for Sanctions. Id. at 6. The August 28, 2018 Order again warned Plaintiff that “her failure to timely comply with this order will result in the imposition of additional sanctions, which may include dismissal of this action, ” and “encourage[d] the parties to confer regarding the entry of a stipulated protective order” with respect to Plaintiff's medical records. Id. at 7. On September 14, 2018, the parties filed a Stipulated Protective Order. ECF No. 141.

         Meanwhile, on August 29, 2018, Defendants' counsel filed his Declaration of fees and costs, ECF No. 126, and on September 20, 2018, the court ordered Plaintiff to pay by October 9, 2018, Defendants' reasonably incurred fees and costs of $787.50. ECF No. 146.

         On October 11, 2018, the court stayed all proceedings until January 31, 2019, based on Plaintiff's documented “active treatment” for a serious health condition. ECF No. 157. On January 28, 2019, the court sua sponte extended the stay through February 28, 2019. ECF No. 166.

         B. Procedural Background

         On March 30, 2019, Defendants filed the instant Motion for Plaintiff's failure to comply with the August 28, 2018 Order. ECF No. 182. A hearing was held on May 6, 2019, and Plaintiff appeared by telephone. ECF No. 193. Although Plaintiff had failed to file an opposition memorandum, during the hearing, Plaintiff stated that she did not get the Motion until that day and that she lacks the financial ability to pay the sanction. The court granted Plaintiff leave to file an opposition by May 20, 2019. Id. As of May 22, 2019, no opposition was filed.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Defendants contend that terminating sanctions are warranted based on Plaintiff's “willful and repeated refusal to comply with Court directions and deadlines, ” specifically, Plaintiff's failure to pay the sanction of $787.50 and her repeated assertions to Defendants' counsel that she will not pay the sanction. Mot. at 2, ECF No. 182; Declaration of D. Kaena Horowitz ¶¶ 15-16, ECF No. 182-1. Defendants' counsel contends that the stay of proceedings from October 11, 2019 through February 28, 2019, “did not alter the deadline for payment, ” and states that Plaintiff has made “no attempts to contact [counsel] to settle ...


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