United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. Hickey United States District Judge
the Court is Separate Defendant Central Transport, LLC's
Motion for Reconsideration of Order Granting Plaintiff's
Renewed Motion for Sanctions Against Defendant Elmer Enrique
Ventura. (ECF No. 67). Plaintiff Marqchello Jordan has filed
a response in opposition. (ECF No. 73). The Court finds this
matter ripe for consideration.
a negligence action arising from an accident involving three
tractor-trailers which occurred on May 6, 2015. (ECF No. 23).
Separate Defendant Elmer Enrique Ventura
(“Ventura”) is a truck driver. Id.
Separate Defendant Central Transport, LLC, (“Central
Transport”) is a trucking company engaged in the
business of hauling freight. Id. Plaintiff alleges
Defendants were negligent in causing this accident.
Id. Plaintiff also alleges that Ventura was an agent
or employee of Central Transport acting within the scope of
his agency or employment at the time of the accident.
2, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Sanctions against
Ventura based upon his failure to attend his properly noticed
deposition and for failing to comply with his written
discovery obligations. (ECF No. 53). On June 13, 2018, the
Court denied as premature Plaintiff's Motion for
Sanctions. (ECF No. 60). However, Ventura was ordered to
appear for a deposition no later than July 31, 2018.
Id. Further, Ventura was ordered to provide
responses to any written discovery responses that remained
outstanding no later than July 15, 2018. Id.
made several attempts to scheduled depositions. However,
Ventura did not appear for a deposition or supplement his
written discovery by the court-ordered deadline.
Consequently, Plaintiff filed a Renewed Motion for Sanctions
seeking that the Court strike Ventura's entire Answer.
(ECF No. 61).
September 27, 2018, the Honorable Barry A. Bryant, Magistrate
Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, issued an order
sanctioning Ventura for failing to meet his discovery
obligations. (ECF No. 66). Judge Bryant's Order struck
Paragraph 3 of Ventura's Answer, (ECF No. 34) and the
allegations contained in Paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (ECF No. 23) were
deemed admitted. Further, Judge Bryant's Order struck
Paragraphs 37-53 of Ventura's Answer. (ECF No. 34).
Specifically, the Court deemed admitted that at the time
giving rise to this action Ventura (1) was “the driver
of the tractor-trailer giving rise to this action, ”
(2) was “an agent, servant, and/or employee of Central
Transport, ” and (3) was “acting within the scope
of his agency and/or employment, and under the control of
October 24, 2018, Central Transport filed the instant Motion
for Reconsideration, arguing that the Court should vacate or
modify Judge Bryant's order imposing sanctions to avoid
manifest injustice. On November 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed a
response in opposition to the motion.(ECF No. 73).
Court must now determine whether Judge Bryant's Order
sanctioning Ventura should be set aside or modified to avoid
manifest injustice to Central Transport.
Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b) provides in relevant part that
“any order or other decision, however designated, that
adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and
liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . may be
revised at any time before the entry of a judgment
adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights
and liabilities.” Accordingly, Rule 54(b) governs the
reconsideration of interlocutory orders that do not
constitute final judgement in a case. Interstate Power
Co. v. Kan. City Power & Light Co., 992 F.2d 804,
807 (8th Cir. 1993). However, a motion for reconsideration
pursuant to Rule 54(b) “may not ‘serve as a
vehicle to identify facts or raise legal arguments which
could have been, but were not, raised or adduced during the
pendency of the motion of which reconsideration [is]
sought.'” Jones v. Casey's Gen.
Stores, 551 F.Supp.2d 848, 854-55 (S.D. Iowa 2008)
(quoting Grozdanich v. Leisure Hills Health Ctr.,
Inc., 48 F.Supp.2d 885, 888 (D. Minn. 1999)). Whether
reconsideration is warranted is a highly discretionary
decision. Ideal Instruments, Inc. v. Rivard Instruments,
Inc., 434 F.Supp.2d 640, 647 (N.D. Iowa 2006). A court
should only revisit its prior decision when extraordinary
circumstances exist and the original decision was
“‘clearly erroneous and would work a manifest
injustice.'” Evans v. Contract Callers,
Inc., 2012 WL 234653 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 25, 2012) (quoting
Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486
U.S. 800, 817 (1988)).
Transport argues that the Court's ruling on sanctions,
specifically the admission that Ventura was an agent or
employee of Central Transport acting within the scope of his
agency or employment, is manifestly unjust because Central
Transport had no control over Ventura's decision not to
participate in discovery. Central Transport also argues that
Plaintiff's admitted allegations cannot be given legal
effect against it under existing Eighth Circuit and Arkansas
argues that the Court should not reconsider its ruling
because the Court was within its power to sanction Ventura
for failing to participate in discovery. Further, Plaintiff
contends that it is to be expected that rulings against
co-defendants may impact other parties
consideration, the Court agrees with Central Transport.
Ventura is now affiliated with another trucking company and
has no contact with Central Transport. Central Transport has
no control over whether Ventura appears for depositions or
fulfills his discovery obligations. Therefore, Central
Transport should not be sanctioned for Ventura's actions
when it has fully participated in discovery. See Societe
Internationale Pour Participations Industrielles Et
Commerciales, S.A. v. Rogers, 357 U.S. 197, 211 (1958)
(holding that party should not be severely sanctioned for
circumstances beyond its control); see also Sentis ...