Magistrate Shows Mercy and Gives Truculent Pro Se Litigant One More Chance To Comply with Discovery


No lawyer would receive this much slack from a federal judge. The case was filed by a jewelry company claiming that a designer violated its copyrights and trademarks. The defendant, who was pro se, was not a model of cooperation in the discovery process. This passage gives the reader some flavor of the problems courts have in dealing with angry pro se litigants:

On October 21, 2016, Ronaldo filed its Motion for Discovery Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Court Order [83], pointing out that Prinzo failed to produce his pre-discovery disclosures or respond to Ronaldo’s discovery requests as ordered by the Court. Ronaldo argues that the Court should impose discovery sanctions against Prinzo pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b).

Prinzo has frustrated the progression of this case in other ways as well. During the second case management conference held on March 30, 2016, the Court set a settlement conference for June 9, 2016. See Case Management Order [40]. On June 7, 2016, the deputy clerk called Prinzo to remind him of the conference and to request that he submit a settlement memorandum. Though the settlement conference was set at a time and place selected to minimize any inconvenience to Prinzo[3] and he had been reminded of the conference, he nevertheless failed to appear. Thereafter, the Court entered an Order [51] directing Prinzo to appear in Court on August 2, 2016, and show cause why he should not be sanctioned for failing to appear at the settlement conference.

A few weeks after the cancelled settlement conference, Ronaldo noticed Prinzo’s deposition. The deposition notice requested that Prinzo provide certain records, but Prinzo appeared at the deposition without the records. Additionally, about two hours into the deposition, he abruptly left the deposition before its conclusion. Ronaldo promptly reset the remainder of the deposition for the next day, but Prinzo did not appear.

That same day, Prinzo’s girlfriend, Janice Bintrim, appeared for her deposition. She, too, was to bring certain records with her. However, she did not do so, claiming that Prinzo instructed her not to bring them. Thereafter, Ronaldo filed a Motion for Sanctions [67], seeking sanctions as a result of Prinzo leaving the deposition, failing to appear the next day to continue the deposition, and instructing Bintrin to ignore the document request served with the deposition subpoena. The Court set a hearing on the Motion [67] for August 2, 2016, the same day as the show cause hearing. See Order [69].

The court gave Prinzo ten days to comply with discovery and pay an outstanding sanction award. In my opinion, the Magistrate showed a great deal of patience with the pro se litigant.

Source: RONALDO DESIGNER JEWELRY, INC. v. PRINZO, Dist. Court, SD Mississippi 2016 – Google Scholar

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