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Superior Composite Structures, LLC v. Parrish

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

June 12, 2013

SUPERIOR COMPOSITE STRUCTURES, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MALCOLM PARRISH, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S RENEWED MOTION FOR SANCTIONS

KAREN E. SCHREIER, District Judge

Plaintiff, Superior Composite Structures, LLC, brought suit against defendant, Malcolm Parrish, who is proceeding pro se, alleging causes of action for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, and deceit. Superior Composite previously moved for sanctions after Parrish failed to comply with this court's order to fully answer interrogatories and requests for production of documents. The court granted Superior Composite's motion for sanctions-awarding attorneys' fees-because Parrish willfully violated the previous order and again ordered Parrish to fully answer the interrogatories and requests for production of documents. Parrish has failed to do so, and Superior Composite moves to renew its motion for sanctions and asks the court to enter a default judgment in its favor. Parrish resists the motion. For the following reasons, Superior Composite's motion for sanctions is granted, and default judgment is entered in favor of Superior Composite and against Parrish.

BACKGROUND

The facts in this case were discussed in detail in this court's October 19, 2012, order. Docket 124. The following is a brief summary of those facts and a description of what has taken place since the October 19, 2012, order.

Parrish is the chief executive officer for Abersham Commercial Services, Ltd., which is involved in producing modular housing panels out of high-tech materials made from recycled glass. After Superior Composite expressed interest in selling modular houses made from these panels, Superior Composite and Parrish entered into a series of written agreements. Docket 1-1. The contractual relationship eventually disintegrated, and Superior Composite brought this action against Abersham and Parrish on June 14, 2010.

In the early stages of this lawsuit, counsel for Abersham and Parrish withdrew because "despite repeated attempts by [counsel] to obtain defendants' compliance with Rule 26(a)... and despite the undeniable fact that a significant amount of such information exists, defendants have failed to comply with their disclosure obligation." Docket 11 at 1. Abersham was unable to secure substitute counsel, which led the clerk of court to enter a default against it because corporations cannot proceed pro se in court. Dockets 29, 32. After holding a hearing on damages, where no representative of Abersham appeared, the court granted Superior Composite's motion for default judgment against Abersham in the amount of $849, 895.98. Docket 57. Only Parrish remains as a defendant in this action.

All prediscovery disclosures required by Rule 26(a) were originally due on February 28, 2011. Docket 33-1 at 1. Superior Composite, however, did not hold Parrish to this deadline because of the aforementioned attorney problems. After failing to find counsel, Parrish represented to the court on March 21, 2011, that he would be proceeding pro se.

Superior Composite requested an April 20, 2011, deadline for the prediscovery disclosures. Parrish emailed Superior Composite two days before the deadline and asked for a seven-day extension, which Superior Composite approved. Then, on April 27, 2011, Parrish emailed Superior Composite and informed them that he was having problems with the court's electronic filing system and for that reason he was unable to provide the prediscovery disclosures. Superior Composite responded to the email by reminding Parrish that discovery did not need to be filed with the court but instead needed to be given to the agreed upon third-party intermediary. Docket 33-1 at 2. Parrish did not respond, and Superior Composite brought a motion to compel discovery on May 4, 2011. Docket 33. Superior Composite's motion was granted by United States Magistrate Judge John Simko on June 15, 2011, after Parrish failed to respond to the motion. Docket 43 at 4.

Superior Composite then served its requests for admissions on Parrish on May 19, 2011. The requests for admissions informed Parrish that the requests for admissions would be deemed admitted if he failed to answer. Docket 46-1 at 1. On June 29, 2011, after not receiving a response from Parrish within the allotted time, Superior Composite brought a motion to deem the requests for admissions admitted. Docket 45. Parrish finally provided his responses to Superior Composite's requests for admissions on September 13, 2011, and asked the court to admit the late documents, which the court did. Dockets 73; 81.

On December 5, 2011, Superior Composite sent Parrish a set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents (RFPs). On December 8, 2011, Parrish's second set of attorneys filed a notice of appearance. Docket 84. Superior Composite sent Parrish's newly acquired attorneys copies of the interrogatories and RFPs on December 27, 2011. Docket 89-1 at 1. On January 6, 2012, counsel for Parrish requested and was given a two-week extension to answer the interrogatories and RFPs, which were originally due on January 9, 2012. Counsel for Parrish requested an additional extension on January 23, 2012. Superior Composite agreed to a January 26, 2012, deadline. Superior Composite finally received Parrish's answers to the interrogatories on January 26, 2012, and it received Parrish's responses to the RFPs on January 30. Docket 89-1 at 1-2.

After reviewing Parrish's responses to the interrogatories and RFPs, Superior Composite sent a letter to Parrish's counsel on February 7, 2012, indicating that the responses were deficient and asking for complete answers. Docket 89-1 at 2. Parrish's counsel responded two days later and indicated that they would respond within a "reasonable amount of time." Id. After no word from Parrish or his attorneys, Superior Composite filed a motion to compel full answers to its interrogatories and RFPs on February 14, 2012. Docket 89. On March 14, 2012, after Parrish failed to respond to the motion, the court entered an order to compel, requiring Parrish to fully answer the interrogatories and RFPs by April 13, 2012. Docket 91.

On March 16, 2012, Parrish's attorneys withdrew, with permission from the court, because Parrish had not paid them. Dockets 92-95. On April 13, 2012, Parrish responded to the court's March 14, 2012, order, which response included additional answers to the interrogatories, but no additional responses to the RFPs. Docket 101. After reviewing Parrish's additional answers, Superior Composite moved for sanctions on April 24, 2012, asking the court to sanction Parrish for failing to comply with the March 14, 2012, order. Parrish, on May 8, 2012, moved for reconsideration of the court's order compelling discovery dated March 14, 2012.

On October 19, 2012, the court granted Superior Composite's motion for sanctions and denied Parrish's motion for reconsideration. The court found that Parrish willfully violated the March 14, 2012, order, and such violation caused prejudice to Superior Composite. Although the court seriously considered granting default judgment against Parrish at that time, it chose not to and instead gave "Parrish one additional 30-day time period to respond to the interrogatories and RFPs in compliance with the findings in [the October 19] order as well as the March 14 order of this court." Docket 124 at 27. The court also warned Parrish that failure to comply may lead to the entry of a default judgment in Superior Composite's favor.

Parrish had until November 19, 2012, to respond to Superior Composite's interrogatories and RFPs. Rather than complying with this court's previous orders, on November 19, 2012, Parrish filed a "Response to Order Dated 10/19/12." In this filing, Parrish argued, irrelevantly, the merits of his case and implicitly suggested that his reason for not complying with this court's previous orders was because doing so would cause him to disclose proprietary and confidential information, some of which may not belong to him.[1] Docket 127 ...


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