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Griffin v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

January 8, 2020

MARK GRIFFIN
v.
WRIGHT MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY, INC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge

         Presently pending and ready for resolution are (1) Defendant's motion to compel Plaintiff to respond to discovery requests which was filed by Defendant Wright Medical Technology, Inc. (“WMT”) on August 28, 2019 (ECF No. 21), and (2) Defendant's motion to dismiss as a sanction for failure to provide discovery. (ECF No. 34).

         WMT's first motion claimed that it had not received Plaintiff's responses to: 1) the first request for production of documents; 2) the first interrogatories; and 3) a HIPAA authorization signed by Plaintiff. The motion sought an order directing Plaintiff to provide responses to the discovery requests. The second motion argues that Plaintiff's failure to provide the requested discovery responses amounts to a failure to prosecute and is a basis for dismissal. (ECF No. 34).

         I. Background

         This multi-district product liability action was remanded from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in June, 2018. (ECF No. 4). Counsel for Defendant Robert Hopkins moved for the pro hac admission of co-counsel Dana Ash and Anne Gruner on July 16. (ECF Nos. 7, 8, and 9). Counsel for Plaintiff Jonathan Beiser moved for the pro hac appearance of Charles R. Houssiere III on August 6. (ECF No. 12). The court convened a scheduling telephone conference with counsel on August 29 and, based on their discussions, issued a scheduling order with a discovery period of a little over a year. (ECF No. 16). While Plaintiff's initial complaint named both Wright Medical Technology, Inc. and Wright Medical Group, Inc. as defendants, on September 26, 2018, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint, naming only Wright Medical Technology, Inc. as a defendant. (ECF No. 17). Accordingly, the clerk will be directed to amend the docket to reflect that Wright Medical Group, Inc. is no longer a defendant.

         Plaintiff's pro hac counsel Charles Houssiere, III filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on August 6, 2019. (ECF No. 19). Defendant filed a joint motion with Plaintiff to extend the discovery period (ECF No. 20) and a motion to compel Plaintiff to respond to discovery requests (ECF No. 21) on August 28, 2019. The joint motion to extend the discovery period stated that Plaintiff had not responded to discovery requests and argued that an extension of the discovery period was needed 1) to allow Plaintiff to determine if he intended to pursue this case and, if so, 2) to find counsel, and 3) to enable the parties to complete discovery. The motion was granted and fact discovery was extended to December 2, 2019. (ECF No. 23). Having received no response in opposition, the court granted Mr. Houssiere's motion to withdraw as unopposed on August 29, 2019. (ECF No. 22).

         Plaintiff's remaining attorney, Jonathan Beiser, moved to withdraw on September 17, 2019, stating that he participated in this case only as local counsel and that his practice does not handle products liability cases. (ECF No. 24). Plaintiff filed an opposition on September 30, 2019 (ECF No. 27) and Mr. Beiser filed a reply on October 9, 2019 (ECF No. 28). The court granted Mr. Beiser's motion to withdraw on October 11, 2019 and advised Plaintiff that the case would proceed with himself acting as his own attorney (pro se) until new counsel enters an appearance on his behalf. (ECF Nos. 29, 30).

         WMT filed correspondence requesting the court to rule on its motion to compel on October 15, 2019. (ECF No. 31). The court, recognizing Plaintiff's pro se status, provided Plaintiff until November 8 to respond to the discovery requests. (ECF No. 32).

         Plaintiff filed a motion for an extension of time to respond to discovery requests on November 6, 2019. (ECF No. 33). WMT filed a motion to dismiss on November 13, 2019, arguing that Plaintiff's failure to provide the requested discovery responses amounts to a failure to prosecute and is a basis for dismissal. (ECF No. 34). The Clerk issued a notice to Plaintiff on November 13 advising him of his right to file a response to WMT's motion to dismiss within seventeen (17) days. (ECF No. 35).

         WMT filed a motion to extend the discovery period on November 20, 2019 (ECF No. 36) which the court granted on November 21, extending the discovery period to April 2, 2020. (ECF No. 37).

         Plaintiff's motion seeking an extension of time to respond to discovery requests was granted on November 22 and Plaintiff was provided a final extension - until December 23, 2019, to respond to discovery requests. (ECF No. 38).

         WMT filed correspondence on December 31, 2019, requesting the court to rule on its motion to dismiss, reporting that to date Plaintiff has not responded to the discovery requests, to the pending motion to compel, or to the pending motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 39).

         II. Analysis

         A party is obligated to respond to written discovery requests in a timely ...


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