Dunn v. Hatch et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER denying 71 Motion for Entry of Judgment; 86 Motion in Limine, and 89 Motion for Sanctions. Signed by Judge B. Lynn Winmill. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (st)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
ELI DUNN and COLIN ALLEN,
Case No. 1:15-cv-00479-BLW
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND
BRYCE HATCH, an individual; HATCH
MARINE ENTERPRISE, LLC, et al,
The Court has before it a motion by plaintiffs to take an interlocutory appeal, and
motions by the defendant Hatch – in limine and for sanctions – that together seek to strike
all of plaintiffs’ evidence. The motions are fully briefed and at issue. For the reasons
explained below, the Court will deny the motion to take an interlocutory appeal, and will
deny Hatch’s motions without prejudice to raise the motions again at trial.
Motion to Take Interlocutory Appeal
Plaintiffs seek an interlocutory appeal to challenge the Court’s dismissal of their
claim for punitive damages. The Ninth Circuit has held that an order dismissing a
punitive damage count is not a final appealable order. Arizona State Carpenters Pension
Trust Fund v. Miller, 938 F.2d 1038, 1040 (9th Cir. 1991). Given this authority, the
motion must be denied.
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 1
Motion in Limine & Motion for Sanctions
In these two motions, Hatch asks the Court to exclude all of plaintiffs’ evidence
because they failed to comply with the requirements of the Federal Rules. The effect of
granting the motions would be to dismiss plaintiffs’ action.
Before imposing terminating sanctions, the Court must consider several factors:
(1) the public’s interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; (2) the court's need to
manage its docket; (3) the risk of prejudice to the defendants; (4) the public policy
favoring disposition of cases on their merits and (5) the availability of less drastic
sanctions. Connecticut Gen. Life Ins. Co. v. New Images of Beverly Hills, 482 F.3d 1091,
1096 (9th Cir. 2007). Where a sanction amounts to a terminating sanction, the Court
must also consider whether the noncompliance was willful or in bad faith. See R & R
Sails, Inc. v. Ins. Co. of Pennsylvania, 673 F.3d 1240, 1247 (9th Cir.2012) (“sanction
amounted to dismissal of a claim, [so] the district court was required to consider whether
the claimed noncompliance involved willfulness, fault, or bad faith, ... and to consider the
availability of lesser sanction”).
Here, the plaintiffs admit that they failed to provide summaries of their witnesses’
testimony. About a month before trial, plaintiffs’ counsel did email defense counsel and
told him that “[m]y only witnesses will be the two plaintiffs and Hannah McFarland, the
handwriting expert (by deposition).” The parties had earlier taken the trial deposition of
McFarland. Plaintiffs have also failed to respond to discovery requests and failed to
provide initial disclosures.
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 2
On the other hand, this is an exceedingly simple case. Hatch has known of the
general wage claims of the two plaintiffs for years. About a month ago, the plaintiffs
filed their trial brief detailing their simple damage calculations, which were in line with
what has been alleged throughout this case. The parties have taken the deposition of
McFarland and her testimony will consist of that deposition, nothing more. The Court
can find no bad faith or willfulness on the part of the plaintiffs’ counsel.
The Court is certainly troubled by the failure of plaintiffs’ counsel to follow the
Rules. But dismissal is a drastic remedy that does not appear justified at this time;
monetary sanctions may be more appropriate, a decision the Court can reserve until after
trial. Nevertheless, the Court may need to reevaluate this decision at trial, depending on
how the evidence comes in. The Court is therefore denying the motions without
prejudice to the right of the defendant to raise the motions again during trial and seek a
reconsideration of the Court’s ruling.
In accordance with the Memorandum Decision set out above,
NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the motion for
interlocutory appeal (docket no. 71) is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that the motion for sanctions (docket no. 89) and
the motion in limine (docket no. 86) are DENIED.
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 3
DATED: November 9, 2017
B. Lynn Winmill
United States District Court
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 4
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?