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Quick v. The Geo Group, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 16, 2019

EUGENE QUICK, Plaintiff,
THE GEO GROUP, INC., Defendant.



         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions. (ECF No. 25.) This Motion is fully briefed (see ECF Nos. 30, 31) and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         On April 19, 2018, Plaintiff Eugene Quick filed a three-count Complaint against his former employer, Defendant The Geo Group, Inc., in the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. (See ECF No. 1-3.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendant violated the Pennsylvania Human Resources Act by creating a hostile work environment (Count I) and wrongfully terminating Plaintiff's employment (Count II), and that Defendant intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Plaintiff (Count III). (See id.) Defendant removed the case to this Court on May 8, 2018. (See ECF No. 1.)

         The instant discovery dispute arose based on Defendant's disclosure of electronically stored information. On November 6, 2018, Plaintiff sent Defendant a broad request for "all non- privileged letters, emails, or other correspondence in Defendant's possession that Defendant or its representative have had with anyone ... regarding the facts at issue in this matter. (ECF No. 30 at 3.) After Defendant objected, Plaintiff submitted a second request for production on February 15, 2019. (Id.) Plaintiff requested "all non-privileged emails in Defendant's possession referring to 'Eugene,' 'Eugene Quick,' 'Mr. Quick,' or 'Training Administrator/ which were either sent or received between March 1, 2016, and the present." (Id. at 4.) Defense counsel objected to the scope of that request and requested that Plaintiff's attorney narrow the scope of the request. (Id. at 4-5.) Fact discovery ended on April 1, 2019, and Defendant did not disclose 10, 000 pages of emails until April 10, 2019. (Id. at 5.)

         In his Motion for Sanctions, Plaintiff argues that Defendant should be sanctioned for disclosing 10, 000 pages of emails to Plaintiff on April 10, 2019 -ten days after the period for fact discovery ended under the Court's scheduling order. (ECF No. 25 at 1.) Plaintiff requests that discovery in the matter be reopened so that he can conduct second depositions of Plaintiff's former supervisors, Shon Kuta and Edwin Uhlig. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff argues that "had Mr. Quick received the more than 10, 000 pages of documents that were disclosed after the discovery deadline, the depositions in this matter would have been approached much differently." (Id.)

         In response, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Motion must be denied because Plaintiff did not confer in good faith prior to filing the Motion. (ECF No. 30 at 8.) Defendant contends that Plaintiff's Motion did not comply with the Federal Rules of Procedure and Local Rules because it (1) did not to include a certification that he conferred in good faith with defense counsel, and (2) did not include the specific discovery request which is the subject of the motion. (Id. at 8-9.) Finally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff does not demonstrate why the Defendant's late disclosure of the emails necessitates additional depositions. (Id. at 10.)

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Venue is appropriate under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because a substantial portion of the events giving rise to this case took place within the Western District of Pennsylvania.

         III. Legal Standard

         To modify a scheduling order, a party must demonstrate "good cause." Fed.R.Civ.P. 14(b)(4). "The 'good cause' inquiry focuses on the moving party's burden to show due diligence." Courtney v. Ivanov, No. 3:13-cv-227, 2016 WL 1367755, at *2 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 6, 2016) (Gibson, J.) (citing Race Tires Am., Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., 614 F.3d 57, 84 (3d Cir. 2010)). In the context of requests to extend deadlines, courts have defined "good cause" to include "circumstances beyond the control of a party." See Id. (citing Partners Coffee Co., LLC v. Oceana Servs. and Prods. Co., No. 09-cv-23, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41695, 2010 WL 1726829 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 28, 2010); Lord v. Consolidated Rail Corp, No. 13-784, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142119, at *9, 2015 WL 6163951 (D. N.J. Oct. 19, 2015)) ("A court may find good cause to amend the scheduling order where the movant learns of the facts supporting [the motion] after the expiration of the relevant deadline.").

         Rule 37 authorizes the Court to levy sanctions when a party fails to comply with discovery deadlines. See FED. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(3)(B)(iv); Yoder v. Frontier Nursing Univ., Inc., No. 17-cv-18, 2018 WL 1524395, at *1 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 28, 2018) (Gibson, J.). Under Rule 37(d), "[t]he court where the action is pending may . . . order sanctions if ... a party, after being properly served with [discovery requests] .. . fails to serve its answers, objections, or written response. FED. R. Civ. P. 37(d)(1)(A). "[T]he court must require the party failing to act, the attorney advising that party, or both to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure, unless the failure was substantially justified or other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(d)(3).

         IV. Discussion

         The Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions and permit him to take second ...

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