Failure To Serve Initial Disclosures Did Not Merit Rule 37 Sanctions


The federal rules of civil procedure require each party to make initial disclosures. In Doe v. Coomes, No. 21-cv-67 (N.D. Oklahoma January 18, 2022), the plaintiff failed to serve initial disclosures. The defendant moved for Rule 37 sanctions. The motion was denied because the failure to serve timely disclosures was “harmless.”

However, Rule 37 calls for use-exclusion or other sanctions only if the failure to disclose harmed the receiving party. Examples of a harmless violation of the initial disclosure duty include “the failure to list as a trial witness a person so listed by another party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 37, 1993 Advisory Committee Notes. As noted, Plaintiff has not identified individuals or documents other than those in Defendants’ disclosures. There has been no identified harm as contemplated under the rule.

Defendants argue that, nonetheless, the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint are “inherently prejudicial to the reputation of both CareATC as a company and Jeff Coomes as an individual.” (Doc. 20 at 4). However, they offer little basis to find that any alleged reputational harm might have been spared, had Plaintiff submitted her initial disclosures earlier. Contrary to Defendants’ assertion that the allegations have been “allowed to sit stagnant,” the Court ruled on all motions to dismiss within a matter of weeks after the end of the period for briefing those motions. Id.; see also Doc. 18. The Court shortly thereafter entered a Scheduling Order, under which the time period for discovery remains open until January 24, 2022. (SeeDoc. 19). Finally, as noted, Plaintiff’s initial disclosures identify the same individuals and documents Defendants have already identified

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