United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION RE: ECF NO. 52
MAUREEN P. KELLY, Magistrate Judge.
Pending before the Court is a Motion for Sanctions filed by Plaintiffs Ruben Grigoryants and Mariana Grigoryants (collectively "Plaintiffs" or "the Grigoryants"). (ECF No. 52). After review of the docket and considering the evidence presented and the arguments of Plaintiffs and Defendant Safety-Kleen Corporation ("Defendant" or "Safety-Kleen"), the Grigoryants' Motion for Sanctions will be granted.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing a civil complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Pennsylvania. On November 7, 2011, Defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania - Erie Division. (ECF No. 1). The case was assigned to Judge Sean J. McLaughlin.
Soon thereafter, on November 30, 2011, Plaintiffs' counsel notified defense counsel that he wanted to promptly schedule the videotape deposition of Mr. Grigoryants for use at trial because he was gravely ill. (ECF No. 11-1 at p. 8).
On December 8, 2011, counsel for Plaintiffs provided Plaintiffs' Initial Disclosures Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 26, a CD containing medical records, photographs of Mr. Grigoryants and a CD containing a "Day in the Life" film of Mr. Grigoryants. Plaintiffs' Initial Disclosures identified the names and addresses of nine treating physicians, as well as pathology slides from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York University School of Medicine and Hoboken University Medical Center. (ECF No. 11-2).
Following these disclosures, the docket entries reflect that the parties engaged in discovery throughout 2012 and the first half of 2013, relative to the allegation that Mr. Grigoryants contracted myelofibrosis and myelodysplastic syndrome as the result of his exposure to Safety Kleen - 105 Solvent at Erie Specialty Products where he worked from 1994 to 1996. Discovery included, but was not limited to: interrogatories, requests for production of documents, third party document requests and the production of medical records. (ECF Nos. 13, 14, 18, 21).
On August 28, 2013, upon the resignation of then Chief Judge McLaughlin, the case was reassigned to Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti. (ECF No. 32).
Following a telephone status conference between Chief Judge Conti and counsel for the parties on September 26, 2014, Chief Judge Conti entered an order referring the case to a mediation and/or a settlement conference with District Judge Mark R. Hornak. (ECF No. 40). Thereafter, Chief Judge Conti conducted a case management and status conference on October 8, 2014. During the conference, the Court again addressed the referral of the case to mediation with Judge Hornak. (Minute Entry - 10/8/13).
On October 28, 2013, Judge Hornak conducted an initial pre-mediation conference call with counsel for the parties. (ECF No. 44). The settlement conference was scheduled for January 14, 2014. Judge Hornak also scheduled a second pre-mediation telephone planning conference for January 7, 2014. (ECF No. 46).
In the Order for Mediation, Judge Hornak expressly directed, in pertinent part, that:
The mediation shall be attended by an authorized representative of each party, together with lead trial counsel for each party. An insured party need not attend unless the settlement decision will be made in part by the insured. When the settlement decision will be made in whole or part by an insurer, the insurer shall send a representative in person with full and complete unilateral authority to make settlement decisions. A corporate party shall send a representative with full and complete unilateral authority to bind the company. A governmental entity shall send a representative authorized to act on its behalf. Failure to produce the appropriate persons at the mediation may result in an award of costs and attorney fees incurred by the other parties in connection with the mediation and/or other sanctions against the noncomplying party and/or counsel.
( Id. at ¶ 2). Judge Hornak also directed that each party was to submit a confidential mediation statement to him prior to the settlement conference.
The mediation statement shall contain a recitation of the pertinent facts, a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the case, the parties' position on settlement, including its present settlement proposal, and a report on settlement efforts to date. Legal arguments need not be included unless they are critical to the evaluation or settlement of the case and, if included, should be limited to basic legal arguments. The statement should not be more than 6 pages. Copies of any agreements, business records, photographs or other documents or exhibits may be attached to the mediation statement if important to the negotiations. The parties are to be candid in their statements, but are not required to disclose their final settlement authority.
( Id. at ¶ 4). Judge Hornak further ordered that:
At least 15 days in advance of the mediation, plaintiffs' counsel shall submit a settlement demand to defendant's counsel with a brief explanation of why such a settlement is appropriate. No later than 3 days prior to the settlement conference, defendant's counsel shall submit a written offer to plaintiff's counsel with a brief explanation of why such a settlement is appropriate. These steps will enable the mediation to progress more expeditiously.
( Id. at ¶ 6).
On December 30, 2013, counsel for Plaintiffs sent a demand letter to counsel for Defendant in accordance with Judge Hornak's Order for Mediation. (ECF No. 52, ¶ 8).
The second pre-mediation planning telephone conference was conducted by Judge Hornak with all counsel on ...