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Ramos v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 28, 2019

Bonnie T. Ramos, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          G. MURRAY SNOW, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are the following motions: the Motion for Reconsideration of Defendant Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (Doc. 78); the Motions in Limine of Defendant Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (Docs. 94, 95) and the Motion for Sanctions of Defendant Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (Doc. 87). The Court will also address the arguments raised by the parties in their proposed Final Pretrial Order regarding the issue of waiver of the right to a jury trial. Here is the resolution of the motions and issues: The Motion for Sanctions is granted. The Motion for Reconsideration is denied. Plaintiff has waived her right to a jury trial and this case will therefore be tried before the Court. The Motion in Limine regarding adjudicated claims is granted in part and denied in part. And finally, the Motion in Limine regarding adjudicated claims is denied as moot.

         BACKGROUND

         Because both parties and the Court are familiar with the background of the various motions here, a detailed factual summary is not necessary at this point.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Wells Fargo's Motion for Sanctions

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 requires parties to provide to opposing parties- without awaiting a discovery request-“the name . . . of each individual likely to have discoverable information-along with the subjects of that information-that the disclosing party may use to support its claims or defenses.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(i). The rule also requires disclosure of “a copy-or a description by category and location-of all documents, electronically stored information, and tangible things that the disclosing party has in its possession, custody, or control and may use to support its claims or defenses.” Id. (ii). Parties are excepted from the disclosure requirements if they plan to only use the individual or information for impeachment purposes. Id. (i)-(ii).

         Rule 26(e) requires parties to supplement those disclosures “in a timely manner if the party learns that in some material respect the disclosure or response is incomplete or incorrect, and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing.” Id. (e)(1)(A).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c)(1) provides that “[i]f a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless.” Rule 37(c) therefore establishes an “automatic sanction to provide a strong inducement for disclosure of material.” Yeti by Molly Ltd. v. Deckers Outdoor Corp., 259 F.3d 1101, 1106 (9th Cir. 2001) (alterations and quotation marks omitted). The rule represents a “broadening of the sanctioning power” and district courts have wide discretion to issue sanctions under it. R&R Sails, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of Pennsylvania, 673 F.3d 1240, 1245 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Yeti by Molly, 259 F.3d at 1106)). The party facing sanctions has the burden to show that the failure to disclose was substantially justified or harmless. Torres v. City of Los Angeles, 548 F.3d 1197, 1213 (9th Cir. 2008).

         B. Analysis

         Initial disclosures as required by Rule 26(a) were exchanged between the parties on or before March 31, 2017. (See Doc. 18 at 1.) The Court's case management order required that all fact discovery in this case conclude on May 4, 2018. (See Doc. 37.) On May 4, 2019, Ramos sent her Fourth Supplemental Rule 26 Disclosure Statement. (See Doc. 87-4.) In that disclosure, Ramos provided the name of Matt Bradbury, a former employee of Wholesale Capital Corporation, as a fact witness. She also disclosed emails exchanged between Bradbury and Leo Ramos in December 2016. Ramos had previously identified Matt Bradbury-in an affidavit supporting her arguments at the summary judgment stage-as the individual who informed her that she was ineligible for a new VA loan for her home because U.S. Bank was the trustee of the property. (See Doc. 69 at 5.) But Ramos did not disclose Bradbury as a fact witness or the emails before the discovery deadline closed.

         Ramos initially contends that she did not in fact violate the requirements of Rule 26(a). Her argument rests on the fact that the Court's Case Management Order did not contain a separate deadline for supplementation of Rule 26(a) disclosures. Ramos contends that under the Rules, therefore, supplementation may occur until thirty days before trial is set to begin, and that since a trial date has yet to be set in this case, she cannot have violated Rule 26(a)'s requirements. But Rule 26(e) requires supplementation of disclosures “in a timely manner” when a party learns that a prior disclosure was incomplete. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(A). Ramos was aware of the evidence she disclosed regarding Matt Bradbury and the emails exchanged with him from the outset of this litigation in January 2017. She referenced both Bradbury and the emails in an affidavit she attached to her Motion for Summary Judgment in November 2018. (See Doc. 69.) And yet she failed to provide either the emails or Bradbury's name to Wells Fargo until May 8, 2019. (See Doc. 84; Doc. 87-4.)

         Ramos fails to adequately justify her decision to wait so long. Instead, Ramos contends that her counsel failed to realize that Bradbury would be needed as a fact witness until she read the Court's order on summary judgment. But that does not make her disclosure timely. Ramos failed to disclose the ...


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