First Circuit Affirms Default Judgment Discovery Sanction

CRISPIN-TAVERAS v. MUNICIPALITY OF CAROLINA, Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit 2011 – Google Scholar.

In this case the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a sanction of a default on liability against defendants who did not respond to discovery requests.

The court noted that the defendants did not appeal to file discovery responses or make Rule 26 disclosures.  More seriously, the defendants did not respond to plaintiff’s motion for sanctions, which under a local rule, meant that the allegations in the motion were deemed admitted.  The First Circuit explains:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b) gives the district court a “veritable arsenal of sanctions” for failure to comply with discovery orders, including designating facts as established, striking pleadings, or rendering a default judgment. Malot v. Dorado Beach Cottages Assocs., 478 F.3d 40, 44 (1st Cir. 2007). Although a “drastic sanction,” “[t]he entry of a default judgment provides a useful remedy when a litigant is confronted by an obstructionist adversary and plays a constructive role in maintaining the orderly and efficient administration of justice.”Remexcel Managerial Consultants, 583 F.3d at 51 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

When faced with a motion for sanctions, the non-moving party must file an opposition. District of Puerto Rico Local Rule 7(b) states, “Unless within fourteen (14) days after the service of a motion the opposing party files a written objection to the motion, incorporating a memorandum of law, the opposing party shall be deemed to have waived objection.” A party’s failure, on account of ignorance or neglect, to timely oppose a motion in the district court constitutes forfeiture. See Rivera-Torres v. Ortiz Velez, 341 F.3d 86, 102 (1st Cir. 2003).”

The Court of Appeals also noted that the district court gave adequate warnings to the defendants that they risked the entry of a default judgment.

Edward X. Clinton, Jr.

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