Law School Case Brief
Heller v. City of Dall. - 303 F.R.D. 466 (N.D. Tex. 2014)
Rule 26(g) imposes an affirmative duty to engage in pretrial discovery in a responsible manner that is consistent with the spirit and purposes of Rules 26 through 37, and Rule 26(g) is designed to curb discovery abuse by explicitly encouraging the imposition of sanctions. Accordingly, it is generally no defense to a Rule 26(g)(3) sanctions request to assert that many litigants and their counsel are similarly conducting themselves in discovery.
Plaintiffs, six individuals, served Defendant City of Dallas with two sets of requests for production of documents and one set of interrogatories. Defendant timely served its responses and objections to Plaintiffs' First Set of Requests for Production but served its responses and objections to Plaintiffs' Second Set of Requests for Production and Plaintiffs' First Set of Requests for Interrogatories to Defendant City of Dallas seven days late. Plaintiffs then filed their Motion to Compel Discovery Responses and Request for Sanctions Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(g). In that motion, they based on their assertion of "Defendant's counsel's repeated bad-faith behavior," which included a refusal to withdraw all out-of-time objections excepting those relating to attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine (an offer Plaintiffs made to avoid filing this Motion to Compel), and continual assertion of invalid privilege claims. Plaintiffs seek as a sanction attorneys' fees for all time Plaintiffs' counsel spent on this case.
Were the plaintiffs entitled to attorney's fees as a sanction for the City's abuse of discovery?
Plaintiffs' requests for sanctions were granted in part and denied in part. The court granted their request for their reasonable attorneys' fees incurred in connection with opposing Defendant's vague, ambiguous, overbreadth, and undue burden objections to Plaintiffs' First Set of Requests for Production and seeking full responses to Plaintiffs' discovery requests. The court noted that the Plaintiffs' counsel and Defendant's counsel were directed to meet face-to-face and confer about the reasonable amount of these attorneys' fees awarded as Rule 26(g)(3) sanction as a requirement. If the parties did not reach an agreement as to the amount of fees to be awarded to Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs may file an application for attorneys' fees that is accompanied by supporting evidence establishing the amount of the attorneys' fees to be awarded as Rule 26(g)(3) sanction.
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