Before HINCKS, WATERMAN and MOORE, Circuit Judges.
Plaintiff corporations allege a conspiracy to harm them in violation of the federal antitrust laws. Defendants, pursuant to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 U.S.Code Appendix, 1958 Ed.), sought to examine the plaintiffs by taking pretrial depositions of one Herbert Biberman, as the corporations' managing agent. Plaintiffs challenged the designation of Biberman as their managing agent and sought an order under Rule 30(b) barring defendants from taking plaintiffs' corporate deposition by Biberman. Judge Sugarman denied plaintiffs' motion, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1959, 24 F.R.D. 19, and ordered plaintiffs to appear by Biberman. At the time and place specified in the order plaintiffs presented Biberman for examination by the defendants. Plaintiffs, however, continued to disclaim Biberman as their managing agent.
During the examination an impasse was reached when the witness, relying upon his personal constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, refused to answer certain questions. Defendants, pursuant to Rule 37(a), obtained an order to show cause why the witness should not be compelled to answer the questions. The hearing on the order to show cause was brought on before Judge Sugarman, and at the outset plaintiffs' counsel, as at the time of the examination, disclaimed Biberman as plaintiffs' managing agent. Thereupon, in view of this disclaimer, Judge Sugarman entertained an oral motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint and forthwith granted it, with prejudice, on the ground that the corporations had wilfully failed to appear as ordered by the court, D.C.S.D.N.Y. 1959, 24 F.R.D. 360.
We reverse the dismissal order. We are of the opinion that the plaintiffs complied with the prior order to appear and hence that the court below abused its discretion in dismissing the complaint with prejudice.
When Biberman was presented by the plaintiff corporations at the time and place the court specified, was sworn, and submitted to examination, plaintiffs had appeared, had fully complied with the court order, and were not subject to sanctions for failure to appear. See Cardox Corporation v. Olin Mathieson Chem. Corp., D.C.S.D.Ill.1958, 23 F.R.D. 27. Defendants had full opportunity thoroughly to examine the witness for purposes of preparing their defenses.
The dispute which arose over the propriety of questions defendants asked Biberman at pretrial examination was properly governable by the specific provisions of Rule 37(a) and (b). Rule 37(a) provides that upon reasonable notice one may apply for an order compelling answers. Defendant so moved. Rule 37(b) sets forth the sanctions for failure to comply with a court order compelling answers.*fn1 The court below should have dealt with the issues pertinent to the motion to compel answers by following the specific procedures set forth in Rule 37(a) and (b) instead of ignering these procedures and summarily dismissing the complaint, even though this precipitate action is sought to be justified as being within the court's inherent powers.
The dismissal of an action with prejudice or the entry of a judgment by default are drastic remedies, and should be applied only in extreme circumstances. Producers Releasing Corp. De Cuba v. PRC Pictures, 2 Cir., 1949, 176 F.2d 93, 96 (dismissal with prejudice set aside); Gill v. Stolow, 2 Cir., 1957, 240 F.2d 669, 670 (judgment by default set aside). As Chief Judge Clark stated in Gill v. Stolow, at page 670: "In final analysis, a court has the responsibility to do justice between man and man, and general principles cannot justify denial of a party's fair day in court except upon a serious showing of willful default."
The lower court need not and should not have resorted to the use of its inherent power.*fn2 In Societe Internationale etc. v. Rogers, 1958, 357 U.S. 197, 206-208, 78 S. Ct. 1087, the Supreme Court reviewed action below that had been justified by the exercise of "inherent power." It held that Rule 37 was the exclusive remedy for noncompliance with a production order inasmuch as Rule 37 "addresses itself with particularity to the consequences of a failure to make discovery by listing a variety of remedies which a court may employ as well as by authorizing any order which is 'just.'" Here, as well as there, a reliance upon inherent power "can only obscure analysis of the problem before us." We are of the opinion that the rationale of Seciete Internationale etc. v. Rogers applies with equal vigor to the problem here, that the lower court's reliance upon "inherent power" is misplaced, and that complete adherence to the clearly delineated procedures of Rule 37 is required.
Reversed and remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent ...