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Guion v. Bonner Homeless Transitions Board of Directors Formally T.I.P.S.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 18, 2019

JOSEPHINE GUION, Plaintiff,
v.
BONNER HOMELESS TRANSITIONS BOARD OF DIRECTORS formally T.I.P.S.; MARY JO AMBROSAINI, individually, and in her official capacity as THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT OF THE BONNER HOMELESS TRANSITIONS AND THE BONNER COUNTY HOMELESS TASK FORCE; JOANNE BARLOW, individually and in her official capacity as the PROGRAM MANAGER FOR THE BONNER COUNTY HOMELESS TASK FORCE; BONNIE EDGECOMB and MICHELLE LANG, FORMER T.I.P.S. PARTICIPANTS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye, Chief District Court Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Pro Se Plaintiff Josephine Guion’s (“Guion”) Motion for Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkt. 38), Motion for Intervention and Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkt. 39), Motion for Extension of Time to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 42), Motion for Process of Service by the U.S. Marshal Service (Dkt. 49), Motion for Deposition by Remote Means (Dkt. 52), and Motion for Depositions of Defendants by Written Questions (Dkt. 53). Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will address the motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1)(B).

         For the reasons outlined below, the Court finds good cause to DENY Guion’s Motion for Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkt. 38) and Motion for Intervention and Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkt. 39); GRANT Guion’s Motion for Extension of Time to Amend Complaint (Dkt. 42) and Motion for Process of Service by the U.S. Marshal Service (Dkt. 49); and DISMISS AS MOOT Guion’s Motion for Deposition by Remote Means (Dkt. 52) and Motion for Depositions of Defendants by Written Questions (Dkt. 53).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The background of this case is set forth in the Court’s prior order (Dkt 14). The Court incorporates that background by reference here.

         On May 14, 2019, James Stoll, counsel for Defendants,[1] initiated a phone conversation with Guion to discuss negotiations and the possibility of mediation. The two talked about Guion’s settlement demands and their respective positions on the strength of her claims. They also attempted to resolve certain discovery disputes. During a follow-up phone conversation on June 13, 2019, Stoll informed Guion that Defendants would not accept her demands for settlement. They then discussed more discovery issues and the timeline for the remaining litigation in this case.

         Based on her view of the conversations, the following day Guion called Stoll’s firm and informed it that she intended to file a complaint against Stoll with the Court and the Idaho State Bar Association for his inappropriate and unethical conduct during the phone conversations.

         On June 18, 2019, Phillip J. Collaer (“Collaer”), another attorney working on the case, emailed Guion. This email contained a meet and confer letter, pursuant to the recent discovery disputes. At the end of the email, Collaer informed Guion that due to her allegations, all future communications between Guion and Defendants’ counsel would have to occur in writing. The day after Guion received the email, she filed her Motion for Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkt. 38).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Guion has filed various motions. The Court considers each in turn:

         A. Motions for Sanctions Against Defense Counsel (Dkts. 38–39)[[2]]

         Guion moves this Court to sanction Stoll for violating Rules 16(f) and 37(b)(2)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as Rule 3.1 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct. Rule 16(f) allows a court to sanction an attorney who “(A) fails to appear at a scheduling or other pretrial conference; (B) is substantially unprepared to participate-or does not participate in good faith-in the conference; or (C) fails to obey a scheduling or other pretrial order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(f)(1)(A)–(C). Rule 37(b)(2)(A) authorizes a court to impose specific sanctions on a party for failing “to obey an order to provide or permit discovery.” Id. 37(b)(2)(A). Lastly, Rule 3.1 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct states, in relevant part, that “[a] lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.” Idaho Rules of Prof’l Conduct R. 3.1 (2004).

         Here, Guion claims that Stoll used threats and intimidation in an attempt to force her to drop her claims. She states he threatened to call the Court and tell the judge that she was not completing discovery the way he wanted her to, was belligerent and oppressive when she tried to discuss discovery issues and proceeded in bad faith regarding settlement discussions. Stoll claims that he ...


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