United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Court has before it a motion to compel and for sanctions
filed by defendant U.S. Air Force (USAF) seeking answers to
discovery and sanctions against the plaintiff for discovery
abuses. The motion is fully briefed and at issue. For the
reasons expressed below, the Court will grant the motion and
award sanctions against the plaintiff.
Idaho Waste Systems Inc. (IWS) filed this lawsuit against
USAF, Protech Coatings Inc., and Snake River Rubbish LLC,
alleging that they dumped hazardous waste in IWS’s
landfill and have refused to remove the waste. IWS seeks to
recoup its response costs and damages to its business.
lawsuit was filed on May 23, 2018, and the parties have been
engaged in discovery. USAF claims that IWS has delayed
responding to discovery requests and required USAF to expend
time and resources to force IWS to comply with its discovery
obligations. USAF’s motion seeks to compel answers to
discovery and to sanction IWS in the sum of $11, 692 for its
discovery abuses. IWS denies these allegations and objects to
the request for sanctions.
Court will examine USAF’s allegations regarding
IWS’s conduct in discovery and determine whether
sanctions are warranted.
filed this lawsuit on May 23, 2018, and filed its initial
disclosures on September 7, 2018. With regard to the initial
disclosures required by Rule 26(a)(1)(ii) (documents that may
be used to support claims or defenses) and Rule 26(a)(1)(ii)
(a computation of each category of damages), IWS submitted no
documentation but merely stated that the material is
“being prepared” and “will be provided in a
supplemental disclosure when available.” See Rey
Declaration (Dkt. No. 44-2) at pgs. 1-2.
months passed and IWS failed to provide these initial
disclosures, USAF’s counsel tried various informal
methods to prompt IWS to fulfill its Rule 26 obligations.
These methods included the following: (1) letter dated
December 14, 2018; (2) email dated February 12, 2018; (3)
email and telephonic meet and confer on February 28, 2019;
(4) letter dated March 15, 2019; (5) telephonic meet and
confer on March 22, 2019; (6) mediation with the
Court’s staff on May 1, 2019. Id. ¶¶
6 to 17. It was not until May 30, 2019, that IWS produced the
initial disclosures required by Rule 26(a)(1)(ii) &
December 10, 2018, USAF sent its first set of Requests for
Production of Documents, requesting, among other things,
“documents concerning any alleged damages and response
costs resulting therefrom.” See Request for
Production No. 9 (Dkt. No. 44-2). Months passed and IWS
failed to respond. On several occasions, USAF contacted IWS
counsel requesting answers to the discovery. USAF’s
efforts either (1) went unanswered by IWS’s counsel, or
(2) when answered, were accompanied by promises of production
that were never fulfilled. See Rey Declaration (Dkt.
No. 44-2). Frustrated by these unsuccessful informal direct
efforts to get the discovery, USAF used the Court’s
informal mediation process during which IWS counsel would
again promise to provide answers and then again fail to
follow through. Id. On March 8, 2019, and again on
May 30, 2019, IWS did send to USAF a statement of the dollar
amounts it was seeking in damages. For example, IWS claimed
damages of $33, 106 “for environmental consulting,
evaluation and mitigation” and $147, 000 “for
remobilization and plaintiff’s remedial efforts.”
But IWS failed to provide any supporting documentation as
requested by USAF.
almost six months had gone by, USAF filed this motion to
compel on June 7, 2019, at 10:25 a.m. That motion sought in
part to compel documents supporting IWS’s damage
claims. Almost five hours after USAF’s motion was
filed, IWS emailed to USAF a spreadsheet along with 62 pages
of documents relating to damages, the first time IWS had
produced any documentation concerning its damages. Finally,
after nearly six months of delay, IWS produced documentary
discovery concerning its ...