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Ronaldo Designer Jewelry, Inc. v. Prinzo

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Western Division

December 20, 2016

RONALDO DESIGNER JEWELRY, INC. PLAINTIFF
v.
PHILLIP PRINZO DEFENDANT

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          DAVID BRAMLETTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on the plaintiff's Motion for Discovery Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Court Order (docket entry 83), on the plaintiff's Motion to Hold Defendant in Contempt for Failure to Comply with Order Entered August 26, 2016 (docket entry 85), and on the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Michael T. Parker (docket entry 90). Having considered the plaintiff's submissions and the R&R (to which no responses or objections have been filed by the defendant), and having considered the applicable law, the Court finds as follows:

This action involves claims of copyright and trademark infringement. Plaintiff Ronaldo Designer Jewelry, Inc. (“Ronaldo”) claims that defendant Phillip Prinzo (“Prinzo”) is making and selling jewelry that infringes upon its designs or trademarks. Prinzo denies these allegations. On September 19, 2016, the Court entered a Preliminary Injunction enjoining Prinzo from making and selling jewelry that infringes upon Ronaldo's designs and/or trademarks. Docket Entry 79.

         Magistrate Judge Parker's R&R recites that Prinzo, who is proceeding pro se, has repeatedly ignored court rules and orders throughout this case, and has intentionally obstructed the discovery process. Magistrate Judge Parker warned Prinzo that his failure to respond to Ronaldo's discovery requests could result in the Court imposing sanctions. See Order Granting Motion to Compel (Docket Entry 71). Despite the warning, Prinzo has failed to produce his pre-discovery disclosures, respond to the interrogatories and requests for production, or respond to the requests for admissions.

         On September 2, 2016, Ronaldo filed its renewed Motion to Deem Admitted (Docket Entry 76). Prinzo did not respond to the Motion. Magistrate Judge Parker granted the Motion on October 3, 2016, and held that each request in Ronaldo's first set of requests for admissions is deemed admitted by default.

         On October 21, 2016, Ronaldo filed its Motion for Discovery Sanctions for Failure to Comply with Court Order, 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).

         Magistrate Judge Parker recites that 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. On June 7, 2016, Magistrate Judge Parker's deputy clerk called Prinzo to remind him of the conference and to request that he submit a settlement memorandum. Although the settlement conference was set at a time and place selected to minimize any inconvenience to Prinzo, and although Prinzo had been reminded of the conference, he nevertheless failed to appear. Thereafter, Magistrate Judge Parker entered an Order 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. Also, some two hours into the deposition and before its conclusion, Prinzo abruptly left the deposition. Ronaldo's attorney 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 as a result of Prinzo leaving the deposition, failing to appear the next day to continue the deposition, and instructing Bintrim to ignore the document request served with the deposition subpoena. Magistrate Judge Parker set a hearing on the motion for August 2, 2016, the same day as the show cause hearing.

         Following the August 2, 2016, hearing, Magistrate Judge Parker entered an Order stating:

The Court finds that Prinzo left his deposition without good cause or substantial justification, did not attend his deposition when it was re-noticed, wrongfully instructed Bintrim not to comply with a deposition subpoena, and has generally obstructed the discovery process. Likewise, the Court finds no good cause or substantial justification for Prinzo's failure to appear for the settlement conference. The Court is not aware of any circumstances that would make an award of fees and expenses unjust. To the contrary, to allow Prinzo to multiply the costs and expenses for Ronaldo with his pattern of obstructive behavior would be unjust.

Docket Entry 74, pp. 5-6.

         Ronaldo sought $27, 809.26 in sanctions against Prinzo.

         Magistrate Judge Parker, however, sanctioned Prinzo in the amount of $1, 447.31 for his failure to attend the settlement conference and declined to impose monetary sanctions for his actions regarding the depositions. Instead, he ordered Prinzo to appear at the offices of Ronaldo's counsel for the continuation of his deposition, and ordered him to produce the records identified in Exhibit A to the Amended Notice to Take Deposition. Magistrate Judge Parker's Order also stated:

The Court will not impose additional sanctions at this time. However, if Prinzo continues to ignore the orders of this Court or further obstruct the discovery process, the Court will revisit the issue of additional sanctions. These additional sanctions ...

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