Eramo v. Rolling Stone LLC et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by District Judge Glen E. Conrad on 4/12/2017. (ssm)
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APR 12 2017
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA
) Civil Action No. 3: 15-CV-00023
) MEMORANDUM OPINION
) Ron. Glen E. Conrad
) Chief United States District Judge
NICOLE P. ERAMO,
ROLLING STONE LLC, et al.,
The case is presently before the court on plaintiffs motion for reconsideration of the
court's October 11, 2016 order imposing sanctions. For the reasons that follow, the court will
grant in part and deny in part plaintiffs motion.
Factual and Procedural History
Plaintiff Nicole P. Eramo ("Eramo") filed the instant action alleging several counts of
defamation against defendants Sabrina Rubin Erdely ("Erdely"), Rolling Stone, LLC ("Rolling
Stone"), and Wenner Media, LLC ("Wenner Media"). On November 7, 2016, following a
seventeen-day bifurcated jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff.
During discovery, the parties agreed to an amended stipulated protective order, governing
the disclosure of certain confidential information. See Docket No. 36. One week before trial,
defendants filed an emergency motion for sanctions upon learning that plaintiff's counsel had
provided video copies of certain depositions to at least one news outlet. After a hearing, the court
found that plaintiff's counsel was in violation of the parties' amended stipulated protective order
and granted defendants' emergency motion for sanctions. As a sanction, the court prevented the
plaintiff from presenting at trial the video deposition of defendant Sabrina Rubin Erdely or any
other video deposition disclosed by plaintiff to third-party media outlets and aired by those
outlets. See Docket No. 267. Additionally, the court enjoined the plaintiff from further violations
of the amended stipulated protective order. Id. Plaintiff now seeks an order reversing the court's
October 11, 2016 imposition of sanctions. The court held a hearing on the issue on February 9,
2017. The matter is now ripe for review.
In reaching the conclusion that plaintiff had violated the amended stipulated protective
order, the court determined that the amended stipulated protective order contemplated a
difference between transcripts of depositions and videos of those same depositions. Hearing Tr.
Oct. 11, 2016 at 15:16-16:2. Prior to the summary judgment deadline, at plaintiffs request,
defendants "de-designated" certain portions of deposition transcripts, so that the transcripts could
be filed publicly in support of plaintiffs motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants "dedesignated" the transcripts, but did not "de-designate" the corresponding videos. Nevertheless,
plaintiff sent portions of the videos to at least one media outlet.
To the extent plaintiff seeks reconsideration of the order imposing sanctions, the court
believes the motion is moot. The sanctions related only to what plaintiff could present at trial and
only prevented plaintiff from presenting the video deposition of Erdely, who was available to
testify. However, the court recognizes that its earlier ruling was based upon the understanding
that plaintiff intentionally violated the amended stipulated protective order. Upon further
consideration, and given the apparent confusion as to whether the "de-designation" included both
the transcripts and the video recordings of the depositions, the court believes that plaintiffs
violation of the amended stipulated protective order was not intentional. Accordingly, the court
will grant in part and deny in part plaintiffs motion for reconsideration.
For the reasons stated, the plaintiffs motion for reconsideration will be granted in part
and denied in part. The Clerk is directed to send certified copies of this memorandum opinion
and the accompanying order to all counsel of record.
I ~ />4 day of April, 2017.
Chief United States District Judge
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