United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
J.S., a minor, by and through his mother and next friend, LAQUANDRIA JAMES; and J.W., a minor by and through his mother and next friend, SHERIKA WILBON PLAINTIFFS
LOWNDES COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT and JOHN LOVE DEFENDANTS
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BROWN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
civil rights action is before the Court on the Lowndes County
School District's motion to dismiss, or in the
alternative, for summary judgment. Doc. #39.
March 14, 2016, J.S. and J.W., two minors, filed a complaint
in this Court through their mothers, Laquandria James and
Shenika Wilbon, respectively. Doc. #1. The
complaint asserts state and federal claims against the
Lowndes County School District and John Love, a District bus
driver, based on a school bus altercation among J.S., J.W.,
and Love. Love and the District filed separate answers to the
complaint. Doc. #8; Doc. #14.
December 13, 2016, United States Magistrate Judge David A.
Sanders issued a case management order directing, among other
things, that plaintiffs execute “an appropriate
HIPAA-compliant medical authorization” and setting a
discovery deadline for July 24, 2017. Doc. #18 at 3-4.
26, 2017, the District served interrogatories and requests
for production on both J.W. and J.S. Doc. #22. The District
represents that these first requests for production included
a HIPAA authorization for each plaintiff. Doc. #41 at 3.
Neither plaintiff responded to the discovery requests.
a telephonic status conference on June 6, 2017, the discovery
deadline was extended through August 10, 2017. Doc. #26. On
June 20, 2017, the District noticed the depositions of James
and Wilbon for July 12, 2017. Doc. #28. Neither James nor
Wilbon appeared at the scheduled depositions. See
Doc. #31. Accordingly, on July 14, 2017, Judge Sanders,
during a telephonic conference with the parties, directed the
plaintiffs to serve their medical records and responses to
discovery no later than July 19, 2017. A minute order
reflecting this direction was docketed the same day.
August 7, 2017, Judge Sanders, on the District's motion,
directed the plaintiffs' counsel to pay $480.50 in costs
associated with the missed depositions no later than August
21, 2017. Doc. #35. The same day, Wilbon and James appeared
for their depositions. Doc. #39-9; Doc. #39-10.
August 24, 2017, the District filed a motion to dismiss based
on the plaintiffs' discovery violations or, in the
alternative, for summary judgment. Doc. #39. To date, the
plaintiffs have not responded to the District's motion
and have not produced the Court-ordered discovery.
Additionally, counsel for the plaintiffs has not paid the
costs associated with the missed depositions.
District's motion seeks dismissal of the plaintiffs'
claims under Rule 37(b). Rule 37(b)(2)(A) grants a court
authority to sanction a party for failure to obey an order
“to provide or permit discovery.” Such sanctions
“may include … dismissing the action or
proceeding in whole or in part.” Id. Dismissal
under this rule is committed to the district court's
discretion. Batson v. Neal Spelce Assocs., Inc., 765
F.2d 511, 514 (5th Cir. 1985).
Fifth Circuit has articulated two similar but distinct tests
for dismissal under Rule 37(b). Under one test, first