United States District Court, D. New Mexico
TONYA MICHELLE MALONE, as Personal Representative of the Estate of GERARD WATSON, Deceased, Plaintiff,
GARY EDEN, JACQUELINE R. FLETCHER, CRST EXPEDITED, INC. and XYZ CORP., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Discovery Sanctions Against Defendant, CRST Expedited, Inc.,
filed on June 23, 2017. Doc. 84. Having considered
the record, submissions of counsel, and relevant law, the
Court finds the motion will be granted in part.
case arises from a fatal single-vehicle collision. On June
22, 2013, Mr. Gary Eden lost control of the tractor-trailer
he was driving, crashing into a guardrail. Doc. 1-A
(Compl.) ¶ 22; Doc. 84 at 1.
Tragically, Plaintiff Tonya Malone's 25-year-old son, Mr.
Gerard Watson, was asleep in the tractor-trailer at the time
of the collision and died as a result of his injuries from
the accident. Compl. ¶¶ 21, 23-24. Ms.
Malone has brought suit against Mr. Eden, Jacqueline Fletcher
(the owner/operator of the tractor-trailer), and CRST
Expedited, Inc. (CRST) (the company with operating authority
over Ms. Fletcher and the tractor-trailer). See
Malone's attorney, Mr. Mark Caruso, emailed counsel for
CRST on June 17, 2016, regarding scheduling the deposition of
CRST's Rule 30(b)(6) corporate representative(s).
Doc. 89 at 1; see also Doc. 89-1. Mr.
Caruso stated that “[w]e will specify the areas of
inquiry in the deposition notice, . . . [h]owever, generally
the areas of inquiry may include but are not limited to those
listed below.” Doc. 89-1 at 1. Mr. Caruso then
listed 29 topics of inquiry. Id. at 1-2.
attorney mailed the official Notice of Rule 30(B)(6) Video
Deposition of CRST Expedited, Inc. on January 13, 2017,
scheduling the deposition for February 9, 2017. See Docs.
72; 84-A. The Notice requests that CRST
designate “one or more person(s) who have knowledge to
testify with respect to the following matters[, ]” and
lists 29 topics, all substantively identical to the June 2016
list. Doc. 84-A.
designated Mr. Charles Haffenden, vice president of safety,
as its corporate representative. Doc. 85 at 3. Mr.
Haffenden prepared by speaking with CRST's attorney,
reviewing the Notice, refreshing his memory of the facts of
the case, speaking with CRST employees, and reviewing
documents. Id. (citing Doc. 85-2 at
13:23-14:7, 95:2-12, 106:11-107:15, 121:15-25). Mr. Haffenden
testified that he spent approximately an hour and a half
preparing for the deposition. Doc. 84-B at 14:3-7.
now contends that Mr. Haffenden “came to the deposition
with virtually no preparation[, ]” as evidenced by the
fact that he allegedly “said ‘I don't
know' or ‘I don't remember' or similar
answers to  questions during” his three- to
five-hour long deposition. Docs. 84 at 3, 9;
85 at 4. Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Haffenden was
unprepared to respond to deposition questions about three
broad topic areas (training, facts surrounding the accident,
and DOT application) and four more discrete topic areas
(other vehicle accidents, affirmative defenses, business
operations/organizations, payments and compensation to or
from CRST/Fletcher). Doc. 84 at 4-9.
Plaintiff complains that Mr. Haffenden was unable to respond
to questions regarding:
(1) the specific training Ms. Fletcher received (Doc.
84 at 4 (citing Doc. 84-B at 29:3-16,
(2) facts surrounding the accident, “including CRSTs
position as to how and why the crash occurred, the details of
the trip, and the” relationships between Fletcher,
Eden, and Watson (id. at 5-7 (citing Doc.
84-B at 70:10-72:4, 78:8-15) (quotation marks omitted));
(3) the details regarding CRST's application process for
DOT numbers or certificates of authority (id. at 7-8
(citing Doc. 84-B at 100:10-102:13));
(4) other accidents (id. at 8 (citing Doc.
84-B at 96:14-25, 106:9-107:16));
(5) the “facts and documents upon which” CRST
bases its “contentions and set forth in affirmative
defenses” (id. (citing Doc. 84-B at
70:10-72:21, 114:17-24)); and
(6) CRST's “business operations and
organizations” or “payments and compensation to
or from CRST and Fletcher” (id. (citing