PlayUp, Inc. v. Mintas

Filing 467

ORDER Denying without prejudice 425 Motion for Sanctions and Denying as moot 453 Motion for Leave to File Supplement. Signed by Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe on 2/6/2024. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - RJDG)

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1 2 3 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 4 DISTRICT OF NEVADA 5 6 PLAYUP, INC., Case No. 2:21-cv-02129-GMN-NJK Plaintiff(s), 7 Order 8 v. 9 DR. LAILA MINTAS, Defendant(s). 10 11 [Docket Nos. 425, 453] Pending before the Court is the motion for discovery-related sanctions filed by 12 Defendant/Counterclaimant Laila Mintas. Docket No. 425. Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant PlayUp, 13 Inc. and Counter-Defendant Daniel Simic filed a response in opposition. Docket No. 441.1 Mintas 14 filed a reply. Docket No. 444. Also pending before the Court is PlayUp’s motion to supplement. 15 Docket No. 453. Mintas filed a response in opposition. Docket No. 456. PlayUp filed a reply. 16 Docket No. 462. The motions are properly resolved without a hearing. See Local Rule 78-1. For 17 the reasons discussed below, Mintas’ motion for sanctions is DENIED without prejudice and 18 PlayUp’s motion to supplement is DENIED as moot. 19 I. REQUEST FOR ADVERSE INFERENCE INSTRUCTION 20 The bulk of Mintas’ motion is targeted at obtaining adverse inference jury instructions 21 based on an assertion of spoliation. See, e.g., Docket No. 425 at 29; see also, e.g., id. at 17-23 22 (arguing that certain evidence was not preserved). 23 Federal courts have broad discretion in controlling their dockets. See, e.g., Landis v. N. 24 American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). Courts also have a general duty to avoid deciding 25 unnecessary issues. See, e.g., U.S. Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. Jensen, 835 F.3d 1100, 1113 n.6 (9th 26 Cir. 2016). “To that end, courts may sequence motion practice to avoid deciding unnecessary 27 28 1 The Court will refer to PlayUp, Inc. and Simic collectively hereafter as “PlayUp.” 1 1 issues and generally resolve trial-related motions after it is clear that there will likely be a trial.” 2 Motley v. Malta, 2023 WL 2529778, at *1 n.1 (D. Nev. Mar. 14, 2023) (Navarro, J.). “Typically, 3 adverse inference instructions are provided to the jury at the end of trial and not at summary 4 judgment.” Cardenas v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 2019 WL 2918162, at *10 n.6 (S.D. Cal. July 8, 2019). 5 Given that such relief is specific to trial, courts may find that a spoliation motion seeking an 6 adverse inference jury instruction is premature when presented during the summary judgment 7 phase or earlier in the case. See Ingram v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 690 Fed. Appx. 527, 530 (9th 8 Cir. 2017) (“Since adverse inference instructions are provided to juries at the conclusion of trial, 9 the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Ingram’s request for an adverse inference 10 at the summary judgment stage of these proceedings”); Swindell Dressler Int’l Co. v. Travelers 11 Cas. & Sur. Co., 827 F. Supp. 2d 498, 508 (W.D. Penn. 2011) (finding spoliation motion for an 12 adverse inference premature given that discovery had not closed, summary judgment motions had 13 not yet been filed, a pre-trial order had not been issued, a trial date had not been set, and the parties 14 had not submitted proposed jury instructions); see also, e.g., Cardenas, 2019 WL 2918162, at *10 15 n.6; On Demand Direct Response, LLC v. McCart-Pollak, 2018 WL 11409439, at *2 (D. Nev. 16 Sept. 24, 2018); Kolas v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2018 WL 11444060, at *1 (D. Nev. Mar. 23, 17 2018). 18 The Court will follow that same course here. The deadline for filing motions for summary 19 judgment has not yet expired, see Docket No. 449 at 4, and it is not clear that there will be a trial.2 20 Given the current procedural posture, the Court declines to decide trial-related issues. If this case 21 proceeds past the summary judgment phase and Mintas continues to seek adverse inference jury 22 instructions, a renewed motion for that relief must be filed concurrently with the joint proposed 23 pretrial order. 24 II. OTHER RELIEF SOUGHT 25 In addition to seeking the adverse jury instructions identified above, Mintas seeks myriad 26 other relief based on various factual assertions, including: (1) an order compelling production of 27 2 The Court expresses no opinion herein as to the merits of either potential motions for 28 summary judgment or the request for adverse inference jury instructions. 2 1 documents reviewed in preparation for a deposition, Docket No. 425 at 16-17; (2) sanctions for 2 alleged discovery misconduct in the form of fees, an order compelling production of documents, 3 a second Rule 30(b)(6) deposition, and an order that unproduced discovery be precluded from trial, 4 id. at 23-25; and (3) a forensic examination of PlayUp’s electronics, id. at 25-28. PlayUp contends 5 as an overarching matter that Mintas’ motion “improperly combines [numerous discovery issues] 6 into one, omnibus Frankenstein of a motion.” Docket No. 441. PlayUp is correct. 7 Omnibus motions are improper because they impede the clear presentation of the facts and 8 the law, along with meaningfully developed argument on each of the issues for which relief is 9 sought. See, e.g., Underwood v. O’Reilly Auto Enterps., LLC, 2022 WL 1184883, at *2 (D. Nev. 10 Apr. 20, 2022). In this case, Mintas appears to have thrown at the wall any discovery-related 11 conduct she believes to be problematic in the hopes something will stick. By presenting her request 12 in this omnibus fashion, however, the factual and legal issues are convoluted, and the clear 13 articulation of arguments has been hampered.3 The Court will not endorse this “spaghetti 14 approach” and will not “sort through the noodles” to attempt to resolve the arguments on their 15 merits. Cf. Independent Towers of Wash. v. Wash., 350 F.3d 925, 929 (9th Cir. 2003). 16 Accordingly, the Court declines to address the other requests raised in the pending motion. 17 If Mintas seeks relief beyond the adverse inference jury instructions discussed in the preceding 18 section, she must file a motion focused on the specific issues pertinent to that particular request. 19 III. CONCLUSION 20 For the reasons discussed above, Mintas’ motion for sanctions is DENIED without 21 prejudice and PlayUp’s motion to supplement is DENIED as moot. 22 IT IS SO ORDERED. 23 Dated: February 6, 2024 ______________________________ Nancy J. Koppe United States Magistrate Judge 24 25 26 3 This is a problem in any context, but it is especially unfortunate when significant relief is 27 being sought. The more significant the relief being sought, the more mindful a movant must be to clearly and fully develop both the factual showing and the legal arguments. Taddeo v. Am. Invsco 28 Corp., 2015 WL 751072, *1 (D. Nev. Feb. 20, 2015). 3

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