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Jean-Louis v. Capital One

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 5, 2018

FRANCIS JEAN-LOUIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAPITAL ONE, Defendant.

          Frances Jean-Louis, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Barry M. Willoughby, Esquire, and Lauren E.M. Russell, Esquire, Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CONNOLLY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Frances Jean-Louis ("Plaintiff'), who proceeds pro se, filed this employment discrimination case on June 22, 2015, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. (D.I. 2) She also alleges defamation. Defendant Capital One ("Defendant") moves to dismiss for failure to prosecute and failure to cooperate in discovery or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (D.I. 25) Defendant also moves to strike exhibits and related portions of Plaintiffs response and answer to its motion to dismiss. (D.I. 28) Plaintiff opposes both motions. (D.I. 27, 30)

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff alleges employment discrimination by reason of religion when she was not promoted in October 2013 and then terminated from her employment in December 2013. (D.I. 2) After Plaintiff failed to timely serve Defendant, the Court issued an order on April 29, 2016, for Plaintiff to show cause why her case should not be dismissed for failure to timely serve. (D.I. 8) Plaintiff responded, she was given an extension of time to serve, and Defendant was served on May 31, 2016. (D.I. 9, 12, 20)

         Once Defendant answered the Complaint, the Court entered a scheduling order on June 21, 2016. (D.I. 16) The order set a discovery deadline of December 22, 2016 and a summary judgment deadline of February 22, 2017. (D.I. 16)

         On June 22, 2016, Defendant served Plaintiff a request for production of documents. (D.I. 19) When Plaintiff failed to respond to the discovery requests, she was contacted by defense counsel and, as of March 22, 2017 has not responded to the discovery requests. (D.I. 26-2 at 1) On June 22, 2016, Defendant also served Plaintiff with a notice to take her deposition on August 2, 2016. (D.I. 17) Plaintiff did not appear for her deposition. (Id.) Plaintiffs deposition was rescheduled for August 26, 2016. (D.I. 22) According to Defendant, on August 25, 2016, Plaintiff requested postponement of her deposition because she was trying to acquire counsel, and Defendant agreed to postpone the deposition. (D.I. 26 at 5)

         On November 21, 2016, Plaintiff asked the Court for an extension to "seek legal counsel." (D.I. 23) Defendant advised the Court that it did not oppose Plaintiffs request to the extent she sought an extension of the December 22, 2016 discovery deadline. (D.I. 24) Plaintiff did not seek an extension of the discovery deadline, and it was not extended by the Court. Defendant states that, since November 2016, Plaintiff has not contacted Defendant's attorney to explain her failure to engage in discovery, and Plaintiff has failed to respond to Defendant's attempts to contact her which includes attempts to reschedule her deposition. (D.I. 26 at 6)

         On February 22, 2017, Defendant filed the pending motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute and failure to cooperate in discovery, or in the alternative for summary judgment.[1] (D.I. 25)

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         Federal Rule Civil Procedure 37(b)(2) provides for sanctions once a court has ordered a party to answer discovery and the party fails to comply with the order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2). Rule 37(d) provides for sanctions when a party fails to attend its own deposition, serve answers to interrogatories, or respond to a request for inspection. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(d). Dismissal of an action pursuant to Rule lies within the discretion of the trial court. See Curtis T. Bedwell and Sons, Inc. v. International Fidelity Ins. Co., 843 F.2d 683, 691 (3d Cir. 1988).

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 41 (b), a court may dismiss an action "[f]or failure of the plaintiff to prosecute or to comply with [the Federal Rules] or any order of court Although dismissal is an extreme sanction that should only be used in limited circumstances, dismissal is appropriate if a party fails to ...


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