United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
LAWRENCE M. SMITH, and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel Plaintiffs,
DEION L. SANDERS, Individually, ET AL., Defendants.
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION
CARRILLO RAMIREZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
standing order of reference dated June 8, 2015 (doc. 126),
this case was referred for full case management, including
the determination of non-dispositive motions and issuance of
findings of fact and recommendations on dispositive motions.
Before the Court for determination is Plaintiffs'
Second Amended Motion for Sanctions and Contempt of Court
Against Pro Se Defendant, Deion L. Sanders, filed June
11, 2018 (doc. 425). After consideration of the relevant
filings and applicable law, the motion should be
GRANTED in part and DENIED in
October 31, 2012, Lawrence Smith (Relator) filed suit against several
defendants on behalf of the United States of America for
violations of the False Claims Act, 21 U.S.C. §§
3729-30 (the Act) in United States ex rel. Smith v.
Sanders, No. 3:12-CV-4377-M. (doc. 2.) He alleges that
several defendants “committed several acts and
omissions that contributed to and resulted in the making of
false and fraudulent statements and claims to obtain federal
grant funds” through the National School Lunch Program
and Summer Food Service Program. (doc. 89 at 10-12.)
filed another action on August 7, 2013 in United States
ex rel. Smith v. Wallace, No. 3:13-CV-3106-M (the
Related Action) against some of the same defendants as in
this case, as well as others. (See doc. 2, Related
claims related to the charter school application and grant
applications for Prime Prep Academy (the Academy).
(See doc. 2, Related Action; doc. 172 at 8.) On May
27, 2015, the Court consolidated both cases. (doc. 122 at 1;
doc. 46, Related Action.) After consolidation, Relator
amended the complaint he originally filed in the Related
Action. (See doc. 172.) Relator alleges that several
defendants, including Deion L. Sanders (Defendant), made
material false representations and statements in the
Academy's charter application to obtain grant funds under
the federally funded No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
(Id. at 3, 6-7.) He also alleges that the defendants
received large sums of money through the Texas Education
Agency, which administered the NCLB program in Texas.
(Id. at 3.)
the course of the litigation, Defendant has wholly failed to
participate or cooperate with discovery, and he has violated
the following court orders without satisfactory
Produce discovery responses by 6/5/17.
(See Order, doc. 303.)
Produce discovery responses by 7/12/17.
(See Order, doc. 346.)
Appear for settlement conferences on
7/17/17 and 7/20/17. (See Order,
Participate in mediation and in filing
joint status report by 7/23/17.
(See docs. 319, 320.)
Appear in person for hearing on 8/11/17
concerning failure to produce discovery
responses. (See Order, doc. 346.)
Pay fees and costs incurred by Relator in
filing a discovery motion and produce
discovery responses by 8/25/17. (See
Order, doc. 350.)
Appear for show cause hearing on 9/1/17 as
to why his pleadings should not be stricken
and default judgment rendered for failure
to comply with discovery orders
on Defendant's alleged failure to respond to them, other
than to state that he did not have time to respond to
discovery requests, Defendant's attorneys moved to
withdraw from representing him in this case on August 1,
2017, and their motion was granted on August 11, 2017.
(See docs. 338, 348.) After his attorneys were
allowed to withdraw, the Court ordered that all orders issued
on August 11, 2017, be served on Defendant by email at the
email address which his counsel and Relator agreed was the
most current viable means of reaching him, and by mail at
various physical addresses provided by Relator. (See
docs. 351, 352.) Defendant acknowledged email receipt of the
orders by return email and copied an attorney on the email on
that same date. (See doc. 354-1.) Relator now seeks
to have Defendant held in contempt and sanctioned under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b) by having his pleadings stricken and
default entered against him. (See doc. 425 at 9.)
Rule 37(b)(2)(A) provides that if a party fails to obey an
order to provide or permit discovery, the court may issue
“further just orders, ” including
(i) directing that the matters embraced in the order or other
designated facts be taken as established for purposes of the
action, as the prevailing party claims;
(ii) prohibiting the disobedient party from supporting or
opposing designated claims or defenses, or from introducing
designated matters in evidence;
(iii) striking pleadings in whole or in part;
(iv) staying further proceedings until the order ...