United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
KARLA J. WEINHOFER, and JOSEPH S. SPAGNOLA, Plaintiffs,
WEIS MARKETS, INC. Defendant.
S. PERKIN, M.J.
matter is before the Court on Defendant, Weis Markets,
Inc.'s Motion for Sanctions Directed to Plaintiffs. A
Hearing on Defendant's motion for sanctions was held
before the Court on December 13, 2016. Following the Hearing,
a Supplemental Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for
Sanctions was filed by Defendant on December 16, 2016, and a
Second Supplemental Memorandum of Law was filed by Defendant
on December 20, 2016. Having considered the motion,
supporting documentation, and oral argument presented by
counsel for Defendant at the December 13, 2016 hearing, the
Court is prepared to rule on this matter.
upon the record, the relevant facts and procedural history
are as follows:
Karla J. Weinhofer (“Weinhofer”) and Joseph S.
Spagnola (“Spagnola”) initiated this matter by
filing a Complaint against Defendant Weis Markets, Inc.
(“Weis”) following an alleged slip-and-fall
accident in a grocery store operated by Weis. See
Dkt. 1. Plaintiffs claim Weis allowed a liquid to exist on
the store's floor for an unreasonable amount of time and
without a warning of the spill, and Weis' negligence in
doing so caused Weinhofer to slip and fall. See id.
Further, Weinhofer claims to have suffered a knee injury and
several other bodily injuries, including a traumatic brain
injury. See id. In addition to this claim against
Weis, Spagnola also brings a claim for loss of consortium
relating to his wife's injuries. See Id.
Plaintiffs seek consequential, compensatory, and punitive
damages against Defendant. See id.
filed an Answer to the Complaint along with Affirmative
Defenses on October 13, 2015. See Dkt. 5. Following
a series of Rule 16 Conferences and status conferences,
counsel for Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Withdraw as Attorney
on January 20, 2016. See Dkt. 14. On January 29,
2016, the Motion was granted and the Order was mailed to
Plaintiffs' last known mailing address. See Dkt.
16. On March 10, 2016, Plaintiffs were notified that they
were expected to proceed with or without counsel.
See Dkt. 19. The immediate action was referred to
the undersigned on April 28, 2016. See Dkt. 29.
Following a Rule 16 Conference held on June 1, 2016,
parties were notified of the dates and deadlines for
discovery, pretrial motions, motion for summary judgment, and
several other case management deadlines related to the
action. See Dkt. 33 and 34.
October 6, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion for Sanctions.
See Dkt. 35. Plaintiffs were served with a copy of
the Motion, memorandum, and proposed order. See id.
On November 22, 2015, the Court ordered that a Hearing for
oral argument on Defendant's Motion for Sanctions would
be held on December 13, 2016. See Dkt. 36. The
Court's Order was entered and delivered to both parties
by the Clerk's Office. See id. Plaintiffs did not
appear for the Hearing scheduled for December 13, 2016, and
they did not respond to the Court's Order. See
Dkt. 37. Counsel for Defendant appeared at the December 13
Hearing and provided oral argument with respect to the motion
for sanctions. Following the Hearing, the Court ordered both
parties to submit supplemental briefs and/or responses to
Defendant's Motion for Sanctions. See Dkt. 38.
The Court's Order was entered and delivered to both
parties. See id. Defendant filed a Supplemental
Memorandum in Support of Motion for Sanctions on December 16,
2016. See Dkt. 40. A Second Supplemental Memorandum
was filed on December 20, 2016. See Dkt.
Motion for Sanctions contains information relevant to the
steps Defendant took in an effort to advance discovery and
move this action forward. See Dkt. No. 35. The Court
finds the following uncontested averments relevant to its
determination of this matter:
In December of 2015, former counsel for the Plaintiffs and
Weis took steps to arrange for the depositions and
independent medical examinations of the Plaintiffs, who are
Texas residents, to occur in Philadelphia in January 2016.
This cooperative effort required numerous telephone calls,
correspondence, numerous communications with experts and
The parties agreed Plaintiffs would appear in Pennsylvania
for their depositions and examinations. Thus, Weis
accommodated Plaintiffs' scheduling needs and agreed to
complete depositions and expert activity in a condensed
schedule over several days.
In fact, Weis agreed to provide transportation to Plaintiffs
to and from their hotel in Philadelphia, PA, and agreed to
complete depositions on a Sunday at[Weis] counsel's
Philadelphia, PA office.
Weis further agreed to provide transportation to Plaintiffs
to and from IME's with neurology and neuropsychology
On December 30, 2015, former counsel for the Plaintiffs
confirmed Plaintiffs' availability on January 24, 2016
for depositions, and January 25 and 26, 2016 for independent
Thereafter, on January 6, 2016, Notices of Deposition were
distributed for the confirmed date provided by
Plaintiffs independent medical examinations were properly
Noticed and scheduled, and Weis submitted records to the
experts at its own cost and expense.
On January 17, 2016, former counsel for the Plaintiffs
advised that their representation had been terminated.
Thereafter, on January 19, 2016, Plaintiff Weinhofer wrote to
Weis unilaterally canceling her depositions and examinations.
This unilateral action required the cancellation of the three
IMEs that had been scheduled for the Plaintiff, along with
depositions of the Plaintiffs themselves.
On March 15, 2016, counsel for Weis re-engaged in efforts to
schedule the IMEs and depositions of the Plaintiffs.
In response, Plaintiff [Weinhofer] suggested that she was
considering appearing for these activities between May 13,
2016 and May 18, 2016 in Pennsylvania.
Accordingly, on May 2, 2016, Weis scheduled IMEs with its
experts to occur on May 13, 2016, May 16, 2016 and May 18,
On May 3, 2016, Plaintiff [Weinhofer] responded in a manner
that appeared to confirm the proffered IME dates.
Notices of these activities were properly issued on May 4,
Despite numerous requests for the provision of
Plaintiffs' travel schedule in order to enable Weis to
take steps to schedule depositions, Plaintiff failed to
Therefore, Weis issued Notices of Depositions for the
Plaintiffs to occur on May 19, 2016, to coincide with
Plaintiffs' expected travel itinerary.
Thereafter, on May 10, 2016, despite failing to provide dates
for depositions upon Weis's request, Plaintiffs sent an
email refusing to appear on May 19, 2016 for their
depositions, without providing any ...