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Ramsey v. Dodd

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

February 25, 2015

KENNETH RAMSEY, APPELLANT
v.
DR. LAWRENCE DODD and HOT SPRINGS BONE & JOINT CLINIC, P.A., APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE GARLAND COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CV-2013-562-I. HONORABLE LYNN WILLIAMS, JUDGE.

Wallace, Martin, Duke and Russell, PLLC, by: Valerie L. Goudie, for appellant.

Malcom Law Firm, by: J. Phillip Malcom and Glenn Ritter, for appellees.

M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and BROWN, J., agree.

OPINION

Page 791

M. MICHAEL KINARD, Judge

Kenneth Ramsey appeals from an order dismissing with prejudice his medical-malpractice complaint as a sanction for discovery violations. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in dismissing his claim. We affirm.

Appellee Dr. Lawrence Dodd performed surgery on appellant's wrist on April 4, 2010. Dr. Dodd allegedly was an employee of appellee Hot Springs Bone & Joint Clinic, P.A. Appellant filed his complaint against appellees on July 22, 2013, asserting medical malpractice.[1] Appellant alleged that Dr. Dodd acted negligently in diagnosing his condition and in performing

Page 792

the surgery, leaving appellant with nerve damage, causing him pain and suffering, and requiring additional medical treatment. Appellees answered and, on August 8, 2013, served appellant with three sets of interrogatories, three sets of requests for production of documents, and requests for authorizations to obtain appellant's medical, educational, employment, tax, and Social Security records. Although appellant was obliged to answer the discovery requests within thirty days, see Ark. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2) & 34(b)(2), appellant did not respond to any of the requests or provide the requested authorizations.

Approximately four months later, on December 3, 2013, appellees sent a " good-faith" letter to the attorney for appellant requesting appellant's responses no later than January 3, 2014. See Ark. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(2). Appellant's attorney responded with an e-mail stating simply that she was " working on it." On January 10, over five months after the discovery requests were made and over four months after responses were due, appellees filed a motion with the trial court seeking an order compelling appellant's compliance. Appellant did not respond to the motion to compel.

On February 26, the trial court ordered appellant to provide " complete and comprehensive" responses to all of appellees' interrogatories and requests for production of documents. It also ordered appellant to deliver to appellees executed authorizations for appellant's medical, educational, employment, tax, and Social Security records. Appellant was given ten days to comply. The order specifically stated that appellant's failure to comply would result in the imposition of sanctions pursuant to Rule 37, including the possibility that appellant's complaint would be dismissed with prejudice.[2]

On March 10, appellant provided the requested authorizations and his responses to the discovery requests. Responses to a number of the interrogatories and requests for documents were incomplete at best. Others were not answered at all beyond stating " [t]his has not been determined at this time." Appellant did not lodge any objections or seek any protective order. On May 12, appellees filed their motion for sanctions under Ark. R. Civ. P. 37, seeking an order dismissing appellant's complaint. On May 14, appellant responded to the motion for sanctions and attached an unsigned and undated " revised" set of responses to the interrogatories setting forth some, but not all, of the missing information.

On May 28, the trial court entered an order granting the motion for sanctions and dismissed the complaint. The court noted that appellant had failed to provide any responses to appellees' discovery requests for a full seven months after they were served. The court pointed out that appellant took no action in response to the appellees' December 2013 " good-faith" letter and failed to respond to the January 2014 motion to compel. The court further noted that ...


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