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Romines v. Vitran Express, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

September 29, 2014

MICHAEL ROMINES, Plaintiff,
v.
VITRAN EXPRESS, INC., Defendant.

OPINION and ORDER

ROGER B. COSBEY, Magistrate Judge.

On August 28, 2014, this Court granted Defendant Vitran Express, Inc.'s motion to compel discovery responses from pro se Plaintiff Michael Romines and took its request for attorney's fees under advisement. (Docket #24.) The Court afforded Vitran through September 2, 2014, to file an affidavit concerning the fees sought, and Romines through September 12, 2014, to respond to Vitran's request for fees.

Vitran timely filed the affidavit. (Docket #25.) Romines, however, has not responded to Vitran's request for fees, and the time to do so has since passed. Accordingly, Vitran's motion for fees will be GRANTED, except that the requested award will be reduced from $1, 504.50 to $1, 199.00.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Romines filed his state court complaint on December 31, 2013, alleging wrongful termination, and Vitran then removed the case to this Court. (Docket #1, 2.) At the March 31, 2014, preliminary pretrial conference, the Court set an October 1, 2014, discovery deadline. (Docket #18.)

On June 9, 2014, Vitran served its first set of discovery requests, but Romines did not respond by the July 14, 2014, deadline. (Dft.'s Mot. to Compel 1.) On July 22, 2014, Vitran emailed Romines inquiring on the status of his discovery responses. ( Id. at Ex. C.) Romines replied stating that Vitran would need to obtain the information from nonparty Hal Briand (the President of Vitran). ( Id. at Ex. D.) Vitran explained to Romines that his refusal to provide discovery responses was improper, warning him that his failure to comply by August 8, 2014, would result in the filing of a motion to compel. ( Id. ) Romines, however, again refused to comply and directed Vitran to Briand. ( Id. at Ex. F.)

Vitran filed the motion to compel and request for attorney's fees on August 11, 2014. (Docket #19.) Romines timely responded, essentially repeating his prior explanation-namely, that Briand should be responsible for providing his discovery responses. (Docket #21.) As explained above, this Court granted Vitran's motion to compel and ordered Romines to file his responses to Vitran's discovery requests by September 12, 2014, but took Vitran's request for fees under advisement. (Docket #24.) The Court afforded Vitran through September 2, 2014, to file an affidavit concerning the fees sought, and Romines through September 12, 2014, to respond to Vitran's request. (Docket #24.) Vitran timely filed the affidavit (Docket #25), but Romines has not filed his discovery responses or responded to Vitran's request for fees.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(5) governs the imposition of expenses and sanctions related to a motion to compel. It provides, in pertinent part:

(A) If the motion is granted-or if the disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the motion was filed-the court must, after affording an opportunity to be heard, require the party... to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees. But the court must not order this payment if:
(i) the movant filed the motion before attempting in good faith to obtain the disclosure or discovery without court action;
(ii) the opposing party's nondisclosure, response, or objection was substantially justified; or
(iii) other circumstances make an award of expenses unjust.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(5(A). This Rule "presumptively requires every loser to make good the victor's costs[.]" Rickels v. City of South Bend, 33 F.3d 785, 786 (7th Cir. 1994). Such fee-shifting "encourages... voluntary resolution" of discovery disputes and "curtails the ability of litigants to use legal processes to heap detriments on adversaries (or third parties) without regard to the merits of the claims." Id. at 787. ...


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