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Mia Tyler v. Guardian Protection Services

July 13, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.


Presently before the Court is Plaintiff, Mia Tyler's ("Plaintiff"), Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's February 16, 2012 Order (Doc. No. 42) directing Plaintiff to pay Defendant, Guardian Protection Services' ("Defendant"), "reasonable expenses incurred in making" a Motion for Sanctions, including reasonable attorneys' fees. For the reasons stated below, we will deny the Motion. However, we will also expound and clarify our prior Orders concerning expenses and attorneys' fees regarding several of the discovery Motions filed by the parties.


Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint on January 31, 2011, for unlawful race and gender

discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff, an African-American, asserts that she was employed by the Defendant from July 2, 2008, until June 16, 2009, and that she was a highly successful employee. (Compl. ¶¶ 14-16.) Plaintiff alleges that she "received a bogus evaluation which was pretextual in nature for allegedly making administrative mistakes." (Id. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff further avers that Defendant intentionally discriminated against her as a result of her race, and thereby denied her the benefits of "the contractual relationship she had entered with Defendant by disciplining her for pretextual reasons, subjecting her to harassment as a result of her race, and terminating her employment for pretextual reasons." (Id. ¶ 24.)

On May 2, 2011, the parties entered into a joint discovery plan setting forth that all fact discovery would be completed by September 5, 2011, and dispositive motions filed by October 3, 2011. (Doc. No. 13.) Subsequent to this agreement, the parties began to be involved in a number of discovery disputes which have led to the current Motion. We will outline several of the discovery disputes below.

On August 10, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion to Compel Discovery Responses. (Doc. No. 16.) In such, Defendant asks this Court to order Plaintiff to produce, among other documents, a number of documents that she had referred to during her deposition taken on June 30, 2011. (Id.) Defendant also requested "reasonable expenses incurred in making Defendant's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses, including attorney's fees." (Id.) On August 26, 2011, we granted Plaintiff's Motion to extend fact discovery until October 5, 2011, and on September 16, 2011, we granted Defendant's Motion for additional time to depose Plaintiff. On October 7, 2011, we granted the parties' joint Motion to extend the discovery period until November 4, 2011.

On October 24, 2011, Defendant filed another "Motion to Compel Discovery Responses-Electronically Stored Information." (Doc. 24.) In this Motion, Defendant asked this Court to compel Plaintiff to produce any electronically stored information ("ESI") in her possession that responds to Defendant's First Request for Production of Documents, and pay the cost for the search and production of such ESI. (Id.) Defendant also requested "reasonable expenses incurred in making this Motion, including reasonable attorney's fees." (Id.) On November 18, 2011, we granted the Motion in part ordering that Plaintiff produce all ESI in her possession, and ordering that Plaintiff shall bear the costs of the search and production of the ESI. (Doc. No. 28.) We also ordered the parties to contact us within seven days to establish a deadline for the search and production of the ESI, and ordered that each party "shall bear their own costs, expenses, and attorney fees pertinent to this Motion." (Id.)

On November 21, 2011, we granted Defendant's prior Motion to Compel (Doc. 16), which was filed on August 10, 2011, as "unopposed." We also granted Defendant's Motion for an extension of discovery.*fn1 (Doc. No. 29.) The next day, November 22, 2011, Defendant filed another Motion to Compel, this time seeking "complete and verified answers to interrogatories, authorizations for release of medical records, and production of documents." (Doc. No. 30.) On November 29, 2011, the parties filed a stipulated Order which stated that Plaintiff "shall produce the documents and ESI ordered in the Court's November 18 and the Court's November 21 Order by December 12, 2011." (Doc. No. 32.) The parties further stipulated that fact discovery was to be completed by February 3, 2012, and dispositive motions filed by March 2, 2012. (Id.)

On December 16, 2011, Defendant filed a Motion for "Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Discovery Orders." (Doc. No. 35). In this Motion, Defendant moved this Court to sanction Plaintiff for failing to comply with the November 18, 2011 Order (Doc. No. 28), the November 21, 2011 Order (Doc. No. 29), and the December 5, 2011 Order (Doc. No. 33). (Id.) Defendant also asked for Plaintiff to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorneys' fees, incurred in Plaintiff's non-compliance with these Orders.*fn2 (Id.)

On February 16, 2012, we denied as moot Defendant's Motion to Compel Complete and Verified Answers to Interrogatories, Authorizations for Release of Medical Records, and Production of Medical Records. (Doc. No. 30.) On this same date, we ordered that in consideration of Defendant's Motion for Sanctions (Doc. No. 35), "Plaintiff shall pay Defendants reasonable expenses incurred in making said Motion, including reasonable attorney's fees." (Doc. No. 42.) We furthered ordered that all other sanctions requested in this Motion were denied. (Id.)

Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on March 3, 2012. On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for an Extension of Time to Complete Discovery, asking for additional discovery time to complete more depositions so as to be able to properly respond to the Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 46.) On March 23, 2012, we granted this Motion and set April 9, 2012, as the deadline for Plaintiff to respond. (Doc. No. 48.) All other pre-trial deadlines were stayed. (Id.)

We held a telephone conference with the parties on April 4, 2012, to discuss a Motion for a Continuance that the Plaintiff was asking for to take five depositions of employees and former employees of Defendant. Following the telephone conference, we wrote a letter to the parties stating, in relevant part, the following:

This will confirm the conference call of today in which I directed that counsel for the parties are to immediately arrange the taking of three depositions designated by plaintiff. Any difficulties arising in attempting to arrange for these depositions shall be ...

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