Echon et al v. Sackett et al
ORDER by Judge Philip A. Brimmer on 02/02/2018, re: 184 Sanction Appeal filed by Leonida Sackett, William Sackett, is OVERRULED, 182 Request for Interpreter filed by Leonida Sackett, William Sackett, is DENIED. (sphil, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Judge Philip A. Brimmer
Civil Action No. 14-cv-03420-PAB-NYW
ESMERALDO VILLANUEVA ECHON, JR.,
MARIBEL ECHON, and
WILLIAM SACKETT and
This matter is before the Court on defendants’ filings entitled “My Witness Needs
an Interpreter” [Docket No. 182] and “Sanction Appeal” [Docket No. 184].
A detailed overview of this case can be found in Magistrate Judge Nina Y.
Wang’s recommendation [Docket No. 116] on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket No. 106], which was adopted by this Court on November 1, 2017. See Docket
No. 138. Plaintiffs Esmeraldo, Maribel, and Justin Echon assert claims for breach of
contract and unjust enrichment, as well as violations of the Trafficking Victims
Protection Reauthorization Act, the Colorado Minimum Wage of Workers Act, and the
Colorado Wage Claim Act. See Docket No. 1. Defendants William and Leonida
Sackett have chosen to proceed in this matter without the benefit of an attorney.
The case is presently set for a three-day jury trial beginning on February 12,
2018. Docket No. 123. On January 26, 2018, this Court held a trial preparation
conference in which it ruled on a number of pretrial motions filed by plaintiffs. See
Docket No. 181. Among those motions were plaintiffs’ Motions in Limine Nos. 1-2
[Docket No. 160, 161], which requested that the Court preclude defendants from
introducing at trial evidence inconsistent with facts previously deemed established, see
Docket No. 160 at 1, and exhibits not disclosed during discovery. See Docket No. 161
at 1. The Court granted both motions. See Docket No. 181. In doing so, the Court
relied on earlier orders precluding defendants from offering evidence not disclosed in
discovery, see Docket No. 91 at 16 (magistrate judge recommendation); Docket No. 92
(order adopting recommendation), and deeming certain facts established for the
purposes of the action, see Docket No. 116 at 11-14, 39 (magistrate judge
recommendation); Docket No. 138 (order adopting recommendation), as sanctions for
defendants’ discovery conduct.
On January 31, 2018, defendants filed two motions entitled “My Witness Needs
an Interpreter” [Docket No. 182] and “Sanction Appeal” [Docket No. 184].
II. DEFENDANTS’ PRO SE STATUS
Because defendants are proceeding pro se, the Court will construe their filings
liberally. See Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). Althoug h it is not
clear what relief defendants are seeking with their most recent filings, the Court will
construe defendant’s filing entitled “My Witness Needs an Interpreter” [Docket No. 182]
as a motion seeking a court-appointed interpreter for defendants’ trial witness, Laurel
Echon. The Court will construe defendants’ “Sanction Appeal” [Docket No. 184] as an
objection to that portion of the Court’s January 26, 2018 order [Docket No. 181]
granting plaintiffs’ Motions in Limine Nos. 1-2 [Docket Nos. 160, 161].
A. Request for an Interpreter
Defendants request a Tagalog interpreter for a witness they intend to call at trial.
Docket No. 182. Defendants do not explain why they are unable to procure an
interpreter themselves. Nor do they cite any authority for the proposition that the Court
is required to appoint an interpreter in a civil case. There is no federal rule or statute
requiring a court to appoint an interpreter for a pro se litigant in a civil case not brought
by the United States. See, e.g., Gonzalez v. Bopari, 2012 WL 6569776, at *1 (E.D. Cal.
Dec. 17, 2012) (denying pro se litigant’s request for interpreter in civil rights action);
Herrera v. Zavares, No. 09-cv-01229-MSK-KLM, 2010 WL 3853312, at *13 (D. Colo.
Sept. 28, 2010) (noting that “there is no statutory obligation for the Court to supply an
interpreter to a civil litigant” and that the decision to do so is “conf ined to the sound
discretion of the Court”); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1827(b) (providing that the “Director [of
the Administrative Office of the United States Courts] shall prescribe . . . persons who
may serve as certified interpreters . . . for . . . persons who speak only or primarily a
language other than the English language, in judicial proceedings instituted by the
United States” (emphasis added); Fed. R. Civ. P. 43(d) (providing that “court may
appoint an interpreter of its choosing” (emphasis added)); 5 Guide to Judiciary Policy
§ 260 (2017) (“Interpreter services needed to assist parties to civil proceedings not
instituted by the United States . . . are the responsibility of the parties to the action . . .
.”). Because defendants have failed to justify their request for a court-appointed
interpreter, their request will be denied.
B. Objection to Court’s Rulings on Plaintiffs’ Motions in Limine
In their filing entitled “Sanction Appeal,” defendants appear to object to that
portion of the Court’s January 26, 2018 oral ruling granting plaintiffs’ motions in limine to
preclude defendants from introducing certain evidence at trial pursuant to the Court’s
prior sanctions orders. See Docket No. 184.1 Defendants argue that the Court’s rulings
are unfair because (1) defendants disclosed all information requested of them during
discovery and (2) defendants were not familiar with the meaning and purpose of
plaintiffs’ motions in limine. Id. at 2-3.
The Court finds that defendants’ first argument is untimely. The Court’s rulings
merely enforce orders previously issued by this Court. On January 23, 2017, the
magistrate judge recommended that the Court grant plaintiffs’ request to preclude
defendants from “offering evidence that [had] not been disclosed in discovery” as a
sanction for defendants’ repeated violation of the discovery rules. Docket No. 91 at 16.
Defendants never filed an objection to the magistrate judge’s recommendation, see 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (permitting party to file written objections to magistrate judge
recommendation within fourteen days), and the recommendation was adopted by this
Court on February 24, 2017. Docket No. 92. The Court’s January 26, 2018 order
granting plaintiffs’ motion to exclude all exhibits defendants failed to disclose during
As noted previously, this portion of the Court’s order grants the relief requested
in plaintiffs’ Motions in Limine Nos. 1-2 [Docket Nos. 160, 161].
discovery [Docket No. 161] enforces the Court’s February 24, 2017 order. To the
extent defendants argue that this is an unfair sanction for their conduct during
discovery, the time for such an objection has passed. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.
R. Civ. P. 72(b) (imposing fourteen-day deadline for filing objections to proposed
findings and recommendations of magistrate judge).
The Court’s ruling granting plaintiffs’ motion in limine to preclude defendants
from introducing evidence inconsistent with facts deemed established [Docket No. 160]
also enforces a prior order of this Court. See Docket No. 181. On September 20,
2017, the magistrate judge issued a recommendation on plaintiffs’ summary judgment
motion, proposing that certain facts be accepted as true for purposes of the action.
See Docket No. 116 at 11-14, 39. Neither party objected to the magistrate judge’s
recommendation, which was adopted by this Court on November 1, 2017. Docket No.
138. On December 8, 2017, the magistrate judge issued a second amended final
pretrial order incorporating those facts deemed established and undisputed for
purposes of the action. Docket No. 146 at 15-18. The Court’s ruling on plaintiffs’
Motion in Limine No. 1 [Docket No. 160] enforces these prior orders by prohibiting
defendants from introducing at trial evidence that is inconsistent with facts deemed
established. Although defendants suggest that this is an unfair outcome, their recourse
was to file an objection to the magistrate judge’s recommendation on summary
judgment. Because they failed to do so, they have no basis for challenging the Court’s
January 26, 2018 ruling.
Defendants contend that the Court’s order was unfair because defendants did
not know what a motion in limine is. As the Tenth Circuit has previously stated, a
party’s “pro se status does not relieve him of the obligation to comply with procedural
rules.” Murray v. City of Tahlequah, Okla., 312 F.3d 1196, 1199 n.3 (10th Cir. 2002).
By choosing to go to trial without an attorney, defendants have “volitionally assume[d]
the risks . . . which accompany self-representation,” including the risk that they will not
understand every aspect of the proceedings. Graham-Humphreys v. Memphis Brooks
Museum of Art, Inc., 209 F.3d 552, 561 (6th Cir. 2000). W hether or not defendants
understood what a motion “in limine” is, each motion in limine provided a clear
description of the basis of the motion and the relief sought. Accordingly, defendants
cannot now challenge the Court’s January 26, 2018 order on the basis that they did not
understand the meaning or import of plaintiffs’ pretrial motions.
For the foregoing reasons, it is
ORDERED that defendants’ filing “My Witness Needs an Interpreter” [Docket No.
182], which the Court construes as a motion for a court-appointed interpreter for
defendants’ trial witness, Laurel Echon, is DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that defendants’ “Sanction Appeal,” which the Court construes as an
objection to that portion of its January 26, 2018 order [Docket No. 181] granting
plaintiffs’ Motions in Limine Nos. 1-2 [Docket Nos. 160, 161], is OVERRULED.
DATED February 2, 2018.
BY THE COURT:
s/Philip A. Brimmer
PHILIP A. BRIMMER
United States District Judge
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