United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
CERTAIN UNDERWRITERS AT LLOYD'S, LONDON SUBSCRIBING TO POLICY No. B0823PP1308460, et al., Plaintiffs,
ADVANFORT COMPANY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA CARROLL BUCHANAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER is before the Court on Certain Underwriters at
Lloyd's, London subscribing to Policy Number
B0823PP1308460 and Berkshire Hathaway International
Insurance, Ltd.'s (“Plaintiffs”) three
discovery motions: their (1) Motion to Compel (Dkt. 60), (2)
Motion for Discovery Sanctions (Dkt. 76), and (3) Motion for
Supplemental Sanctions (Dkt. 105). For the reasons
articulated below, the Court will award Plaintiffs $28,
468.90 in attorneys' fees and costs.
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel and Motion for Discovery
matter is a declaratory judgment action filed by Plaintiffs
to judicially confirm lack of insurance coverage for
Defendant's asserted claims. (See generally Dkt.
7.) On March 27, 2019, Plaintiffs served their First
Interrogatories and First Requests for Production on
Defendant. (Pls.' Mot. Compel Mem. Supp. at 3, Exs. 1-2.)
Defendant failed to respond with objections within fifteen
(15) days, and ultimately served its responses and objections
together on April 24, 2019. (See Id. Exs. 3-4.)
After the parties' meet-and-confer efforts failed to
resolve deficiencies in Defendant's responses, Plaintiffs
filed a Motion to Compel (Dkt. 60). The undersigned held a
hearing on May 31, 2019, and entered an Order granting in
part Plaintiffs' motion. (Hr'g Tr. 18:8-12, Dkt. 75;
Dkt. 67.) The Court ordered Defendant to provide revised
answers to Interrogatories 3-14 and 18-20 in narrative form.
(Hr'g Tr. 16:10-15; 17:10-13.)
submitted its First Amended Responses to Plaintiffs'
First Interrogatories on June 7, 2019. (Pls.' Mot.
Sanctions Mem. Supp. at 3, Ex. 1.) Plaintiffs then filed a
Motion for Discovery Sanctions (Dkt. 76), arguing that
Defendant's First Amended Responses failed to comply with
the Court's earlier Order. (Id. at 6-18.) The
Court held a hearing on July 12, 2019, and again found that
Defendant's interrogatory responses were grossly
inadequate. (See Hr'g Tr. 25:8-9, Dkt. 88;
see also Dkt. 89 at 5.) Following the hearing, the
Court entered an Order continuing the hearing for
Plaintiffs' Motion for Discovery Sanctions and ordering
Defendant to fully comply with the Court's prior
discovery Order. (Dkt. 83.)
then submitted its Second Amended Responses to
Plaintiffs' Interrogatories. (Dkt. 84.) The Court held a
third hearing and ultimately issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order (“Sanctions Order”) (Dkt. 89). The Court
ruled that (1) Defendant violated Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 37(b)(2) and the Court's prior Order; (2)
Defendant's violations were unjustified and harmful, and
(3) sanctions were appropriate. (See Sanctions Order
at 7-17.) The Court also specifically ordered the following:
[P]ursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
37(b)(2)(A)(ii), Defendant is limited to the answers provided
in its Second Amended Response at summary judgment and trial.
Defendant may not deviate from those answers in any regard,
including any attempts to further “clarify” its
answers. Nor may Defendant, either at summary judgment or
trial, use, introduce into evidence, or even reference any
documents, testimony, or information not already provided to
Plaintiffs through discovery. Should Defendant fail to follow
this Order, Plaintiffs may seek supplemental sanctions.
(Id. at 17.) Furthermore, the Court ordered
Plaintiffs to submit their statement of fees and costs
incurred in bringing their Motion to Compel and Motion for
Discovery Sanctions. (Id.) Plaintiffs complied,
requesting the Court to award them $20, 443.91 in total.
(Pls.' Fees and Costs, Ex. 1 ¶ 8.) Specifically,
Plaintiffs incurred $19, 087.00 in attorneys' fees and
expenses, and $1, 356.91 in other reimbursable costs.
(Id. ¶¶ 6-8.) Defendant did not file a
response to Plaintiffs' Statement of Fees and Costs.
Plaintiffs' Motion for Supplemental Sanctions and Summary
Plaintiffs and Defendant briefed the Court on their
respective motions and cross-motions for summary judgment. On
August 20, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Summary
Judgment (Dkt. 94). On September 3, 2019, Defendant filed its
Renewed Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 100) and the
accompanying memorandum of law (“Summary Judgment
Brief”) (Dkt. 101). Defendant attached three exhibits
to its Summary Judgment Brief: (1) an excerpt of Ahmed
Farajallah's deposition transcript (Dkt. 101-1); (2) a
declaration by Ahmed Farajallah dated August 30, 2019 (Dkt.
101-2); and (3) a declaration by Samir Farajallah dated
August 30, 2019 (Dkt. 101-3) (collectively, the undersigned
will refer to the latter two exhibits as the
“Farajallah Declarations”). Discovery in this
case closed on June 25, 2019. (See Dkt. 73.) Thus,
Defendant produced the Farajallah Declarations over two
months after the close of discovery.
September 20, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for
Supplemental Sanctions (Dkt. 105), alleging that Defendant
had again defied this Court's Order by deviating from the
information in the Second Amended Responses in its summary
judgment pleadings and exhibits. (See Pls.' Mot.
Supplemental Sanctions Mem. Supp. at 1-2.) Plaintiffs first
alleged that Defendant's reliance on the Farajallah
Declarations-which Defendant produced after the close of
discovery-deviated considerably from Defendant's Second
Amended Responses. (Id. at 2.) Second, Plaintiffs
alleged that Defendant relied on factual assertions in
conflict with the Second Amended Responses. (Id.)
Defendant filed an Opposition to Motion for Supplemental
Sanctions (Dkt. 110), and Plaintiffs filed a Reply (Dkt.
asked the Court to impose several sanctions. Substantively,
they requested the Court to (1) strike the Farajallah
Declarations, (2) deem as undisputed all factual assertions
Defendant attempted to dispute by relying on the Farajallah
Declarations or by otherwise deviating from the Second
Amended Responses, and (3) reject all factual assertions
Defendant attempted to establish based on the Farajallah
Declarations or by deviating from the Second Amended
Responses. (Pls.' Mot. Supplemental Sanctions Mem. Supp.
at 5, 27). Furthermore, Plaintiffs requested that the Court
award attorneys' fees and costs. (Id.)
Specifically, they asked for (1) all costs and fees incurred
in bringing the instant Motion for Supplemental Sanctions,
(2) all costs and fees incurred in responding to
Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and (3)
one-third of their costs and fees incurred in drafting the
Reply brief in support of their Motion for Summary Judgment.
Court entered an Order on October 2, 2019, granting in part
Plaintiffs' Motion for Supplemental Sanctions. (Dkt.
113.) The Court (1) struck from the summary judgment record
the Farajallah Declarations (Dkts. 101-2, 101-3) and
paragraphs 1, 3-6, and 8-16 of Defendant's statement of
undisputed facts in its Summary Judgment Brief (Dkt. 101);
and (2) deemed undisputed paragraphs 2, 7, 10-13, 16, and 25
of Plaintiffs' Statement of Material Facts in their Brief
in Support of their Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. ...