Legal Memorandum: Imposing Sanctions Pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(C)

Issue: May a Magistrate Judge order sanctions against a defendant pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(C), based on the fact that the court ‘was unnecessarily tasked with re-reviewing documents that were identical to documents previously ordered to be produced’?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Sanctions; Re-reviewing documents
Jurisdiction: Federal, Minnesota
Cited Cases: 238 F.3d 937; 382 F.3d 1374; 357 U.S. 197; 427 U.S. 639; 184 F.3d 924
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(C)
Date: 09/01/2008

A magistrate judge enjoys considerable discretion in choosing appropriate sanctions in such a case.  See Chrysler Corp. v. Carey, 186 F.3d 1016, 1022 (8th Cir. 1999); see also Monsanto Co. v. Ralph, 382 F.3d 1374, 1380 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (applying 8th Cir. Law) (stating that “[d]istrict courts have wide latitude in fashioning an appropriate sanction [under Rule 37(b)(2)]”); United States v. Big D Enters., 184 F.3d 924, 936 (8th Cir. 1999) (also observing that F. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2) permits broad discretion to impose sanctions for a party’s failure to comply with a discovery order). 

Generally, sanctions are triggered simply by noncompliance with an underlying discovery order.  Best Buy Stores, L.P. v. Developers Diversified Realty Corp., Civ. No. 05-2310 (DSD/JJG) (D. Minn. June 12, 2008).  A finding of willfulness or contumacious conduct is not necessary to support sanctions that are less severe than dismissal of the case or entry of a default judgment.  Id. 

Moreover, prejudice is not a prerequisite for the imposition of sanctions under Rule 37(b).  Id.  Rather, Rule 37 sanctions are intended to penalize those whose conduct may be deemed to warrant such a sanction, and to deter those who might be tempted to engage in such conduct in the absence of such a deterrent.  Id. (citing NHL v. Metro. Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 643 (1976) (per curiam)).  In fashioning an appropriate sanction, the court need not impose the least onerous […]

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