United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and
Plaintiff's Amended Motion for Sanctions. (Docs. 73, 92.)
The motions are fully briefed and neither party requested
oral argument. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's
Amended Motion for Sanctions is denied and Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
AMENDED MOTION FOR SANCTIONS
than two months after the completion of briefing on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff filed
her Amended Motion for Sanctions, which relates to three
requests for production that Plaintiff served on Defendants
during the course of this litigation. Plaintiff contends that
Defendant failed to properly respond to these requests and
asks that the Court draw negative inferences regarding the
contents of these documents as a sanction.
and in relevant part, Plaintiff requested:
1. All the cover sheets (top page) of Enumerator
Questionnaires (EQ), D-1(E), I, Plaintiff, personally worked
on during my census work in 2010.
3. Names of Enumerators under the supervision of Crew Leader
Hall from April 1, 2010 through May 4, 2010 who had their
fingerprints taken more than once.
9. Please provide a transcript of the teleconference between
administrative Judge Warmee, Kyle P. Symanowitz and Plaintiff
on December 2, 2011; and including any correspondence, notes,
memoranda, diaries, records, journals, written materials, web
“blogs” or similar electronic filings, or records
of any kind which were shared and/or complied that contain
any reference to Plaintiff's employment with the U.S.
(Doc. 95-1 at 6-7.)
responded and lodged objections to each of these requests. As
to Request Number 1, Defendant objected that the information
was protected from disclosure under 13 U.S.C. §§
8-9, 214, and was not relevant to any claims or defenses.
(Id. at 9-10.) As to Request Number 3, Defendant
objected on the basis of relevance, and that the request
would require disclosure of personal information of
non-parties and was prohibited by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C.
§ 552a(b). (Id. at 11.) Finally, in response to
Request Number 9, Defendant objected on the basis of
relevance, explained that it did not have the transcript in
its custody or control, and that it had no other responsive
documents. (Id. at 12-13.)
Court conducted a telephonic discovery dispute conference on
June 21, 2016, during which it directed Defendant to
supplement its responses to Request Number 1 and, for
documents that do not exist, to explain why they do not
exist, when they were disposed of, and who Plaintiff can
depose to confirm the information. (Doc. 69.) Defendant
thereafter served supplemental responses, which continued to
assert the prior relevance and privacy objections, but also
explained the whereabouts of the requested documents. (Doc.
95-1 at 16-18.) Specifically, for Request Number 1 Defendant
explained that the documents were scanned into a computer
system and their images were saved, but that the original
documents were destroyed. Defendant also explained that the
scanned images were transferred to the custody and control of
the National Archives. Finally, Defendant identified Edmond
Jarrell, Census Program Manager, as a person whom Plaintiff
could depose about the whereabouts and handling of these
however, did not depose Jarrell, nor did she contact the
Court with complaints about Defendant's supplemental
responses. Instead, she waited until months after the close
of discovery and completion of dispositive motion briefing to
file the present motion for sanctions.
are two sources of authority under which a district court can
sanction a party who has despoiled evidence: the inherent
power of federal courts to levy sanctions in response to
abusive litigation practices, and the availability of
sanctions under Rule 37 against a party who fails to obey an
order to provide or permit discovery. Leon v. IDX Sys.
Corp., 464 F.3d 951, 958 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal
quotations and citations omitted). Plaintiff has not
demonstrated that sanctions are appropriate under either
source of authority.
under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 37(b) are not appropriate because
Defendant complied with the Court's order to supplement
its responses to Plaintiff's document production
requests. If Plaintiff believed those responses were
deficient, the Court's scheduling order required her
first to meet and confer with Defendant to resolve the issue.
If the parties reached an impasse, Plaintiff ...