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Sadler v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


November 19, 2008

BILL AND LORI SADLER, HUSBAND AND WIFE, AND MARCEL AND PAMELA THIRY, HUSBAND AND WIFE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY CO., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

ORDER OF COURT GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO WITHDRAW DEEMED ADMISSIONS AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court are Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 21) and Plaintiffs' Motion to Withdraw Deemed Admissions (doc. no. 31). Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 21) is predicated entirely upon plaintiffs' deemed admissions to interrogatories as a sanction for violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 36, in that plaintiffs did not respond to defendant's interrogatories within 30 days. Plaintiffs respond, in their Motion to Withdraw Deemed Admissions (doc. no. 31), that they filed their responses a mere 15 days late, and that the failure to respond in a timely fashion was due to difficulties in communication and trust between plaintiffs and their counsel, which has now been resolved. (The difficulties in communication and trust between plaintiffs and their counsel are a matter of record. See docs. no. 16, 17 and 18.)

Although the Court does not approve of plaintiffs' failure to communicate with their attorney in participating in the discovery process, if the Court does not allow plaintiffs to withdraw their deemed admissions and grants the motion for summary judgment based solely upon said deemed admissions, the Court will have essentially granted default judgment because plaintiffs' answers to interrogatories were submitted 15 days late. Entry of dismissal as a discovery sanction is a "drastic" approach that is "disfavored absent the most egregious circumstances." United States v. $8,221,877.16 in U.S. Currency, 330 F.3d 141, 161 (3d Cir. 2003), citing Poulis v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 747 F.2d 863, 867 (3d Cir. 1984) . After careful consideration of the Poulis factors,*fn1 the Court finds that such a drastic sanction is simply not warranted under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (doc. no. 21) is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Withdraw Deemed Admissions (doc. no. 31) is GRANTED.

SO ORDERED this 19th day of November, 2008


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