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O'Briant v. GAF Corp.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 31, 2019

GAF CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.


          Ellen L. Hollander, United States District Judge.

         The self-represented plaintiff, Phillip O'Briant, filed an employment discrimination suit in August 2018 against defendants GAF Corporation (“GAF”)[1] and Nidia Valenzuela (ECF 1), alleging that GAF and Valenzuela, its Human Resources Manager, “intentionally discriminated against [him] based on his race in the recruiting and hiring process, ” in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Maryland law. Id. at 16; see also Id. at 13. Plaintiff, who is African-American, alleges that when he applied for employment with GAF on January 23, 2016, and again on October 17, 2016, he met the job qualifications, yet he was not selected for the positions, which remained open. Id. at 10-13. Plaintiff appended several exhibits to the suit.

         Two motions are now pending. Defendants have filed a second motion to dismiss (ECF 38), supported by a memorandum (ECF 38-1) (collectively, the “Motion to Dismiss”), and several exhibits. ECF 38-2-ECF 38-9. They complain that plaintiff has refused to comply with his discovery obligations, despite several court orders, so as to warrant dismissal of the case. Plaintiff has responded in opposition. ECF 40 (the “Opposition”). Defendants have replied. ECF 41. In addition, plaintiff has filed his second prediscovery motion for summary judgment. ECF 42 (the “Summary Judgment Motion”). Defendants oppose the motion. ECF 43. Plaintiff did not reply, and the time to do so has expired.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I will deny plaintiff's Summary Judgment Motion and I will grant the Motion to Dismiss, without prejudice.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         As noted, suit was filed in August 2018. ECF 1. On October 19, 2018, the Court entered an amended scheduling order. ECF 12. It set a deadline of March 1, 2019, for completion of discovery. Id. at 3. It also established the date of April 1, 2019, for the filing of dispositive motions. Id. at 4.

         On November 30, 2018, defendants served plaintiff with their “First Set of Interrogatories” and “First Request for Production of Documents.” See ECF 18-1 at 32-56.[2] In response, plaintiff produced some documents but, according to defendants, he provided incomplete production and responses to the interrogatories. ECF 38-1 at 1; see ECF 18-1 at 68-71.

         Plaintiff filed his first motion for summary judgment on January 10, 2019, which was about two months before the discovery deadline that was then in effect. ECF 16 (“First Summary Judgment Motion”). The First Summary Judgment Motion was not supported by any exhibits, nor was it submitted under oath. Id. Defendants filed an opposition (ECF 17), supported by an exhibit. By Memorandum (ECF 37) and Order of August 21, 2019 (ECF 36), I denied the First Summary Judgment Motion, on the ground that it was premature.

         In the interim, defense counsel wrote to plaintiff on January 15, 2019, outlining the deficiencies in plaintiff's discovery responses and asking for plaintiff's availability to schedule his deposition. ECF 18-1 at 73-78. In an email of January 15, 2019, Mr. O'Briant stated, in part: “There is nothing for us to further discuss.” Id. at 88. Thereafter, on January 22, 2019, defendants issued a “Notice of Deposition, ” scheduling plaintiff's deposition for February 19, 2019. Id. at 90-93. In response, plaintiff emailed defense counsel, stating that he “will not be answering any questions or attending any deposition hearings in the future.” Id. at 95. In fact, Mr. O'Briant did not appear for his deposition on February 19, 2019. ECF 18-2 at 3.

         Soon after, on February 27, 2019, defendants filed a “Motion to Compel Discovery Responses and Authorizations, ” pursuant to Local Rules 104.7 and 104.8 (ECF 18-1 at 7-9) (“Motion to Compel”). The Motion to Compel is supported by a certification of counsel (ECF 18) and numerous exhibits. Accordingly, on March 1, 2019, the Court referred this case to United States Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson for all discovery matters. ECF 20.

         By Order of March 18, 2019 (ECF 24), I extended the deadline for the filing of dispositive motions to 45 days after completion of discovery. And, in an Order of March 18, 2019 (ECF 25), Judge Coulson extended until April 1, 2019, the deadline for plaintiff to respond to defendants' Motion to Compel. However, plaintiff did not respond. See Docket; see also ECF 38-1 at 2.

         In an Order of April 4, 2019 (ECF 29), Judge Coulson granted in part and denied in part the Motion to Compel. He determined that plaintiff's answers to defendants' interrogatories were insufficient, adding: “Plaintiff may not initiate such a suit and then unilaterally refuse to participate in the discovery process.” Id. at 1. Further, he noted the “persistent and reasonable attempts by the Defendants to hold the deposition and an unjustified blanket refusal by the Plaintiff to do so.” Id. at 2. Therefore, he granted defendants' Motion to Compel with respect to defendants' request for production of documents, interrogatories, and the deposition of plaintiff. Id. Of relevance here, Judge Coulson ordered plaintiff to comply within 30 days. Id.

         In view of plaintiff's pro se status, however, Judge Coulson denied defendants' request for monetary sanctions. Id. However, he warned plaintiff that he “would be willing to reconsider the appropriateness of such sanctions” should plaintiff “continue to refuse the Defendants' reasonable discovery requests[.]” Id.

         In an email of April 10, 2019 (ECF 38-2 at 2), defense counsel requested plaintiff's revised discovery responses and provided proposed dates for plaintiff's deposition. Plaintiff responded via email on April 10, 2019. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiff acknowledged that he received defendants' request for his deposition but declined to indicate his availability. Id. As a result, on April 22, 2019, counsel for defendants issued a “Notice of Deposition, ” scheduling plaintiff's deposition for May 1, 2019. ECF 38-4 at 4.

         Plaintiff sent an email to defense counsel on April 29, 2019 (ECF 38-5), stating that he “does not agree” with Judge Coulson's Order of April 4, 2019. Id. at 2. Further, he asserted that “the Judges have engaged in conspiracy criminal conduct, ” threatened criminal charges and another suit, and attached a “writ of mandamus that will be mailed to the U.S. Supreme Court . . . ...

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