United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Durham School
Service, L.P.'s (“Durham”) Motion to Dismiss.
For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.
February 27, 2015, Plaintiff Ebtehag Doud, proceeding pro se,
filed an Amended Complaint against Defendants Durham and
First Student Inc. alleging that these employers
discriminated against her on the basis of her race, national
origin, and religion. (Am. Compl. (Docket No. 11) at 1.)
Durham answered the Amended Complaint, denied the
allegations, and proceeded to discovery.
failed to cooperate with discovery in three ways. First, she
did not serve initial disclosures pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 26(a). Instead, Doud sent Durham a number of
documents including a handwritten letter from her seeking to
postpone discussion of a settlement dollar figure, a copy of
a letter to “His Higness Prince Walid Bin Tilal”
requesting his assistance with this case, and a copy of a
police report from the Bloomington Police Department
indicating that Doud spoke to an officer about a device her
employer had implanted in her brain. (Def.'s Supp. Mem.
(Docket No. 106-6) Ex. 4.) Second, Doud failed to respond to
Durham's discovery requests. Instead, she sent an email
to Durham's counsel on June 13, 2016, stating that
“all answers for the questions you requested as well as
the supporting documents have been provided to you previously
by my former attorney Adam Gillette. You should have them in
your files. Please refer to them.” (Def.'s Supp.
Mem. (Docket No. 106-8) Ex. 6.) Durham, however, never
received any documents from Doud's former counsel. Third,
during her first deposition, Doud repeatedly refused to
answer Durham's counsel's questions, interrupted
Durham's counsel on several occasions, and frequently
alternated between Arabic and English. (Def.'s Supp. Mem.
(Docket No. 106-12) Ex. 10.)
on Doud's failure to cooperate, Durham filed a motion to
compel discovery. Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron granted
Durham's motion and ordered Doud to provide written
responses to Durham's first set of interrogatories,
respond to Durham's first request for production of
documents, and cooperate at a second deposition. (Order
(Docket No. 95) at 1-2.) Judge Mayeron further warned that if
Doud failed to comply with these orders, “Durham may
return to this Court for further relief including dismissal
of this lawsuit as sanctions for failing to comply with this
Order.” (Id. at 3.)
failed to comply with Judge Mayeron's Order. She provided
incomplete written responses to Durham's first set of
interrogatories. For example, in response to Durham's
request for the full names, addresses, and contact
information for persons who may have information related to
this case, Doud provided Durham with an answer that only
included first names and generic job titles for several
individuals. (See Def.'s Supp. Mem. (Docket No.
106-15) Ex. 13.) Durham requested that Doud supplement her
responses, but Doud merely responded with the same previous
answers, along with a number of irrelevant documents.
(Def.'s Supp. Mem. (Docket Nos. 106-17, -18, -19, -20)
Ex. 15, 16, 17, 18.) Doud also failed to respond to
Durham's request for production of documents. Instead,
she sent Durham a packet of documents related to her
son's school and work, a court document related to her
custody battle, a car title, and an incomplete bank
statement, among other things. (Def.'s Supp. Mem. (Docket
No. 106-21) Ex. 19.) None of the documents Doud produced were
responsive to Durham's requests. Finally, Doud again
refused to meaningfully participate in her deposition.
(Def.'s Supp. Mem. (Docket No. 106-24) Ex. 22.)
on Doud's failure to comply with Judge Mayeron's
Order, Durham filed this Motion to Dismiss, and also seeks
attorney's fees for Doud's bad-faith refusal to
cooperate with discovery. Doud failed to respond to
Durham's Motion. Instead, she sent Durham's counsel
two separate handwritten letters accusing Durham of providing
a “false item” and stating that, “I have
court with you guys and you guys have refused to do court . .
. You should immediately do court.” (Def.'s Reply
Mem. (Docket No. 111) Exs. A and B.) Pursuant to D. Minn. LR
7.1(g)(1), the Court cancelled the hearing on Durham's
Motion and considered the matter submitted without oral
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow a court to dismiss an
action for discovery violations. If a party fails to obey an
order to provide discovery, the Court may dismiss the action
in whole or in part. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(v). If a party
fails to provide information or identify a witness pursuant
to Rule 26(a), dismissal may also be appropriate.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(c)(1)(C). Finally, a court may dismiss an
action when a party fails to fully answer interrogatories
under Rule 33 or fails to produce documents under Rule 34.
Fed. R. Civ. P 37(d)(1)(A)(ii), (d)(3). Dismissal as a
discovery sanction is available “only if there is (1)
an order compelling discovery, (2) a willful violation of the
order, and (3) prejudice.” Comstock v. UPS Ground
Freight, Inc., 775 F.3d 990, 992 (8th Cir. 2014)
(citation and quotations omitted). But before dismissing a
case under Rule 37, “the court must investigate whether
a sanction less extreme than dismissal would suffice,
unless the party's failure was deliberate or in
bad faith.” Id. (emphasis in original).
the elements necessary for dismissal exist here. Judge
Mayeron's order compelled Doud to engage in discovery.
Doud willfully violated Judge Mayeron's order in
multiples ways, the most egregious of which was her refusal
to answer questions at her deposition. And these willful
violations prejudiced Durham. See id. (finding a
party prejudiced when it was unable to conduct a deposition).
Moreover, the Court is not required to investigate whether a
sanction less extreme than dismissal would suffice because
Doud's failure was deliberate. The Court need not look
any further than Doud's statement at her hearing with
Judge Mayeron that she is “not going to answer for
[Durham's counsel] anymore. I'm not going to do for
question.” (Def.'s Supp. Mem. Ex. 12 (Docket No.
106-14) at 23.) Dismissal is therefore appropriate.
Durham requests that the Court award it attorney's fees
as an additional sanction for Doud's discovery
violations. A court has discretion to award attorney's
fees under Rules 30 and 37 for discovery violations. Because
Doud is pro se, an additional sanction of attorney's fees
IT IS ...