Wells v. Gourmet Services Inc. et al (MAG+)
ORDER that the 169 Motion to Reconsider is DENIED as further set out in the order. Signed by Chief Judge William Keith Watkins on 6/17/2016. (dmn, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
GOURMET SERVICES, INC., et al.,
) CASE NO. 2:13-CV-516-WKW
Before the court is Defendants’ motion to reconsider the imposition of
sanctions for violating a court order. (Doc. # 169.)
As explained in the May 23, 2016 Order (Doc. # 163) that is the subject of
the motion to reconsider, the court carefully considered the appropriate
consequences for the violation, including (as Plaintiff urged) the comparatively
harsher sanction of striking the noncompliant answer and again barring Defendants
from raising FLSA defenses altogether.1 However, the court concluded that a more
appropriate resolution would be to grant Defendants’ motion for leave to amend
The order that Defendants violated clearly set out what was and was not to be included
in the answer and warned of potential sanctions if the answer did not comply. The order
specifically warned that failure to file an answer that complied with the court’s instructions “may
result in the striking of all affirmative defenses and in denial of the pending summary judgment
motion.” (Doc. # 146 (emphasis omitted).) The subsequent wholesale violation of the very
specific terms of that order was so blatant that it could only have been willful.
their noncompliant answer, but require Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for
attorney fees incurred as a result of the noncompliance.
The court acknowledges Defendants’ contrite apology and confidently
expects that defense counsel will abide by their representation that Defendants will
commit no further violations of court orders.
However, the apology is not
sufficient grounds for reconsideration because punishment and prevention of future
violations were not the primary reasons for the sanctions. The court has a duty to
manage this case by ensuring compliance with its orders. On the basis of that duty
and the necessity of ameliorating undue prejudice to Plaintiff, in the interest of
justice, the sanctions were necessary if an amendment was to be allowed. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 15 (amended pleadings are to be allowed “when justice so requires”);
Maynard v. Bd. of Regents, 342 F.3d 1281, 1287 (11th Cir. 2003) (“A motion to
amend may be denied on numerous grounds such as undue delay, undue prejudice
to the [opposing party], and futility of the amendment.” (citations and internal
quotation marks omitted)).
The sanctions imposed are reasonably and narrowly tailored to the offense,
and they effectively eliminate any prejudice caused by the allowance of the
amendment. The sanctions were not an abuse of discretion, and Defendants do not
Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the motion to reconsider (Doc. # 169) is
DONE this 17th day of June, 2016.
/s/ W. Keith Watkins
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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