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Stillman v. City of Terre Haute

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

March 19, 2019

MONTY STILLMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF TERRE HAUTE, Defendant.

          ENTRY

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         As the subject of this entry demonstrates, the failure to diligently respond to a discovery request can carry serious consequences. At the final pretrial conference held on March 15, 2019, the Court heard argument on the City of Terre Haute's (“City”) Objections to Mr. Stillman's untimely production of evidence concerning his earnings. The parties confirmed that, despite receiving a request for production of the documents on October 23, 2017, Mr. Stillman failed to meaningfully produce evidence to support his lost wage claims until the week before the final pretrial conference-some two and a half months after the close of damages discovery. [Filing No. 16 at 5.] Mr. Stillman has not identified any substantial justification for the failure to supplement his document production until the eve of trial, and the failure was not harmless. Accordingly, the Court SUSTAINS the City's Objections to Mr. Stillman's untimely-produced tax transcripts, W-2s, and earnings statements, [Filing No. 82], and will, as set forth below, limit Mr. Stillman's wage claim to damages through the date of his deposition.

         I.

         Background

         On March 15, 2019, the Court held a final pretrial conference in this matter. The Court provided both parties with the opportunity to be heard and present argument on the City's Objections to the tax and earnings exhibits listed on Mr. Stillman's Amended Final Exhibit List. At the final pretrial conference, the parties confirmed the accuracy of the following facts concerning discovery in this matter.

         On October 23, 2017, the City served Mr. Stillman with the following Requests for Production:

5. The original or copy (wherein the original is not available) of all of the plaintiff's state and federal income tax returns filed with any taxing authority, including all W-2s forms and 1099 forms and schedules for the past five (5) years. . . .
18. Any and all exhibits which plaintiff intends to offer or use at the trial at the above-captioned matter, which request is to include items whether real, photographic or documentary, which plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel intend to offer at trial.

[Filing No. 82 at 2.] On November 16, 2017, the Magistrate Judge entered a Case Management Plan (“CMP”), setting forth discovery deadlines to facilitate the efficient and orderly development of this matter. [Filing No. 16.] In relevant part, the CMP provided that damages discovery “shall be completed by December 14, 2018.” [Filing No. 16 at 5.]

         At some point, Mr. Stillman answered an interrogatory explaining that he did not have the tax documents and would supplement his production upon receipt. But Mr. Stillman never answered Request 5 for tax returns. Rather, the only information the City received concerning Mr. Stillman's earnings from his work after he was terminated by the City came from nonparty productions and Mr. Stillman's April 2018 deposition.

         On February 20, 2019, the Court scheduled the final pretrial conference in this matter and ordered the parties to file a trial exhibit list by March 1, 2019, “listing only the exhibits the party anticipates actually presenting at trial.” [Filing No. 58 at 2.] The Order further provided that, “[a]bsent consent of the opposing party, no exhibit that has not been previously listed may be included.” [Filing No. 58 at 2.] Pursuant to this Order, Mr. Stillman filed his trial exhibit list on March 1, 2019, [Filing No. 69], and the City duly objected to certain exhibits on March 8, 2019, [Filing No. 72]. Also on March 8, after the City had properly filed its objections to Mr. Stillman's trial exhibit list, and without seeking or obtaining leave of Court, Mr. Stillman filed a new, Amended Final Exhibit List. [Filing No. 77.] This new exhibit list, filed without consent of opposing counsel, listed the following exhibits:

27. Plaintiff's tax transcripts for the years 2013 through 2017
28. Plaintiff's W-2 for 2018
29. Plaintiff's Earnings Statement ...

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