United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAMES A. HARNAGE
DR. WU, et al.
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR CONTEMPT AND
SANCTIONS FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH DISCOVERY ORDER NO. 141
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiff James A. Harnage (“plaintiff”) has
filed a Motion for Contempt and Sanctions for Failure to
Comply with Discovery Order No. 141, asserting that defendant
Dr. Naqvi has failed to adequately answer an interrogatory,
as ordered by the Court. See Doc. #155 at 1. Dr.
Naqvi has filed an objection to plaintiff's motion. [Doc.
#161]. On June 24, 2018, Judge Alvin W. Thompson referred
plaintiff's motion to the undersigned. [Doc. #160]. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court declines to certify
facts to the district judge as contemplated by 28 U.S.C.
§636(e), and DENIES plaintiff's
Motion for Contempt and Sanctions for Failure to Comply with
Discovery Order No. 141 [Doc. #155].
Court presumes familiarity with the general procedural and
factual background of this matter, and sets forth the
background only as relevant to the instant motion for
contempt and sanctions.
April 26, 2018, the Court held an in-person discovery
conference in this matter. See Docs. #140, #141. Following
that conference, on May 7, 2018, the Court issued a
Memorandum of April 26, 2018, Discovery Conference and Ruling
on Pending Motions (hereinafter the “Discovery
Memorandum and Order”). [Doc. #141]. During that
conference, the Court addressed plaintiff's third set of
interrogatories to Dr. Naqvi, which was the subject of
plaintiff's then-pending motion to compel reflected at
docket entry 89. See Id. at
In pertinent part, the Court ordered: “Dr. Naqvi shall
answer or object to interrogatories 1 and 2 ... on or
before May 31, 2018.” Id. (emphases removed).
18, 2018, plaintiff filed the instant motion for contempt and
sanctions. [Doc. #155]. Plaintiff contends that Dr. Naqvi
“timely filed a pleading, however, intentionally and
flagrantly ignored the courts order and/or intentionally
responded in a manner intended to subvert that
order[.]” Id. at 1. Plaintiff specifically
takes issue with Dr. Naqvi's answer to interrogatory 1
and each of its subparts. See generally Id.
at 3, 5-8. Dr. Naqvi objects to the relief sought.
See Doc. #161.
October 29, 2018, and December 5, 2018, the parties filed two
joint status reports detailing their efforts to resolve the
many pending discovery disputes spanning plaintiff's
federal cases. See Docs. #203, #205. The parties
have reached some agreements concerning discovery in this
case, and plaintiff's other federal cases. See
Doc. #205 at 4-5, 14-16.
plaintiff asks the “court [to] grant the relief sought
by finding defendant in contempt and imposing sanctions
accordingly[, ]” Doc. #155 at 8 (sic), the Court
construes plaintiff's motion as seeking a civil contempt
order based on Dr. Naqvi's alleged non-compliance with
the Court's Discovery Memorandum and Order. See
Int'l Union, United Mine Workers of Am. v. Bagwell,
512 U.S. 821, 826-27 (1994) (distinguishing civil and
criminal contempt). Accordingly, the Court applies the
standard applicable to civil contempt.
imposed pursuant to Rule 37 or the court's inherent
power, a contempt order is, ... a ‘potent weapon, to
which courts should not resort where there is a fair ground
of doubt as to the wrongfulness of the defendant's
conduct.'” S. New England Tel. Co. v. Glob.
NAPs Inc., 624 F.3d 123, 144-45 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting
King v. Allied Vision, Ltd., 65 F.3d 1051, 1058 (2d
Cir. 1995)). A court may hold a party in civil contempt for
the violation of a court order when the movant establishes
that “‘the order violated by the contemnor is
clear and unambiguous, the proof of non-compliance is clear
and convincing, and the contemnor was not reasonably diligent
in attempting to comply.'” Id. at 145
(quoting EEOC v. Local 638, 831 F.3d 1162, 1171 (2d
A contempt order is warranted only where the moving party
establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged
contemnor violated the district court's edict. More
specifically, a movant must establish that (1) the order the
contemnor failed to comply with is clear and unambiguous, (2)
the proof of noncompliance is clear and convincing, and (3)
the contemnor has not diligently attempted to comply in a
Frazier v. APM Fin. Sols., LLC, No. 3:11CV1762(AWT),
2015 WL 8483237, at *1 (D. Conn. Dec. 9, 2015) (internal
citation and quotation marks omitted).
a contempt order is a severe sanction, it is subject to the
higher ‘clear and convincing' evidence standard
rather than the usual preponderance of the evidence standard
applicable to other civil cases.” Chere Amie, Inc.
v. Windstar Apparel, Corp., 175 F.Supp.2d 562, 565
(S.D.N.Y. 2001). “In the context of civil contempt, the
clear and convincing standard requires a quantum of proof
adequate to demonstrate a ‘reasonable certainty'
that a violation occurred.” Levin v. Tiber Holding
Corp., 277 F.3d 243, 250 (2d Cir. 2002).
[28 U.S.C. §636(e)], in a case other than one over which
the magistrate judge presides with a consent of the parties
under 28 U.S.C. §636(c), a magistrate judge is not
authorized to issue a final contempt order. Instead, the
magistrate judge's function in a ‘non-consent'
case is to certify facts relevant to the issue of civil
contempt to the district court.” Telebrands Corp.
v. Marc Glassman, Inc., No. 3:09CV734(RNC)(DFM), 2012 WL
1050018, at *1 (D. Conn. Mar. 28, 2012) (internal citations
and quotation marks omitted); see also Stancuna v.
Sacharko, No. 3:09CV75(AWT)(DFM), 2010 WL 2351485, at *2
(D. Conn. June 9, ...