United States of America v. Alaska Housing Finance Corporation
ORDER granting in part 48 Motion for Sanctions. Waldon's response to all of AHFC's outstanding discovery requests due 11/28/2011. If the parties' mutually agree on a time and location, Waldon to appear for her deposition on 12/14/2 011 [if the parties cannot agree, then Waldon to appear for her deposition on 12/14/2011 at 9:00 AM. If Waldon complies with this order, the deadline for dispositive motions is extended to 1/9/2012; if Waldon does not comply with this order, Waldon i s WARNED that the court will likely dismiss her claims with prejudice and without further notice to her. On 12/15/2011, AHFC's counsel to file a notice advising whether Waldon complied with this order. Signed by Judge John W. Sedwick on 11/14/11. (GMM, CHAMBERS STAFF)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ALASKA
ALASKA HOUSING FINANCE CORP.,
ORDER AND OPINION
Motion at doc. 48]
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 48, defendant Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (“AHFC”) moves to
dismiss the claims of intervenor plaintiff Laura Waldon (“Waldon”), alternatively to limit
her ability to introduce evidence in support of her claims, or failing either of those
remedies to allow for further discovery and extend the time for dispositive motions as a
sanction for Waldon’s conduct in this litigation. The time for responding to the motion
has run, and Waldon has not done so.
This case was commenced by the United States, which filed suit against AHFC
on behalf of Laura Waldon for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of
1988, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq. (“Act”).1 The underlying dispute arose because
Ms. Waldon’s family composition qualified her to receive a voucher for a one-bedroom
apartment, but she sought three bedrooms as a reasonable accommodation for her
disability. Initially, her request had been approved by AHFC, but when Waldon sought a
renewal, AHFC determined that she needed only a two-bedroom apartment–one
bedroom for Ms. Waldon, one bedroom for her live-in helper, but no bedroom for her
exercise equipment. The United States’ claims were resolved by a consent decree
which the court approved.2 The consent decree required AHFC to follow a reasonable
accommodation policy, provide training, and make certain reports. With respect to
Waldon specifically, the decree requires AHFC to continue providing Waldon with a
The consent decree was filed on September 3, 2010. It gave Waldon sixty days
to intervene on her own behalf if she wished to do so. After Waldon sought and
received multiple extensions of time to file a motion to intervene, her motion was
granted.4 Thereafter, the court entered a scheduling order which, inter alia, provided
that discovery would close on September 9, 2011.5 AHFC commenced discovery, and
Waldon sought and received an extension of time to respond to its interrogatories,
requests for production, and requests for admissions.6
After Waldon failed to appear for her deposition on September 1, 2011, AHFC
moved to extend the time for completion of discovery, compel her to attend her
deposition, and to provide responses to written discovery prior to the deposition. The
court extended the deadline for discovery, ordered Waldon to provide discovery
responses by October 10, 2011, and ordered her to appear for her deposition the week
of October 17, 2011.7 Waldon’s failure to provide responses to the written discovery
requests and her failure to appear for her deposition have given rise to the motion for
sanctions at docket 48.
Mr. Clement’s affidavit filed at docket 49 in support of the motion for sanctions
establishes that AHFC served its written discovery requests on Waldon on July 28,
2011. A very incomplete response was provided on August 31, 2011, as detailed by Mr.
Clement. Waldon then failed to appear for her deposition in direct violation of the
court’s order that she do so. From Mr. Clement’s affidavit, it also appears that Waldon
refused to communicate with him when he tried to assure her attendance at the
Before imposing a case dispositive sanction such as AHFC requests, this court
must consider five criteria: the public interest in prompt conclusion of litigation; need to
manage the court’s docket; risk of prejudice to the party asking for the sanction; policy
favoring disposition of disputes on their merits; and suitability of less drastic sanctions.8
Here, the record of delay and recalcitrance by Waldon, coupled with the significant
duration of this litigation which has been kept alive even after it was settled by the
original plaintiff, convincingly shows that the first three factors support imposition of a
case dispositive sanction. However, the fourth factor weighs against doing so.
Moreover, at present the fifth factor appears to be the most significant, for less drastic
sanctions can be imposed, and they should be sufficient to redress or at least reduce
AHFC’s concerns. Specifically, the court will order Waldon to respond fully to all the
written discovery requests forthwith and to appear for her deposition after AHFC’s
lawyer has had a reasonable time in which to review her responses.
If Waldon fails to comply with the court’s order, it will be the second time she has
failed to comply with a court order. Should that circumstance arise, then the court
would very likely find that the only appropriate sanction would be to dismiss with
prejudice any claims Waldon may have which arise from or relate in any way to the
matters raised in the United States’ complaint.
Connecticut General Life Ins. Co. v. New Images of Beverly Hills, 482 F.3d 1091, 1096
(9th Cir. 2007).
IV. CONCLUSION AND ORDER
For the reasons set forth above, the motion at docket 48 is GRANTED in part as
follows: Notwithstanding that the deadline for discovery has passed, Waldon shall
(1) truthfully and completely respond to all of AHFC’s outstanding discovery requests no
later than November 28, 2011, and (2) Waldon shall appear for her deposition at a
mutually agreeable time and location on or before December 14, 2011, and if the
parties cannot agree, then at 9:00 AM on December 14, 2011, in the offices of defense
If Waldon does comply with this order, the deadline for dispositive motions is
extended to January 9, 2012. If Waldon does not comply with this order, Waldon is
WARNED that the court will very likely dismiss her claims with prejudice and without
further notice to her.
On December 15, 2011, counsel for AHFC shall file a notice advising whether
Waldon provided discovery responses and whether she appeared for her deposition.
DATED this 14th day of November 2011.
/s/ JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?