United States District Court, D. New Mexico
NEW MEXICO ONCOLOGY AND HEMATOLOGY CONSULTANTS, LTD., Plaintiff,
PRESBYTERIAN HEALTHCARE SERVICES, et al., Defendants.
ORDER OVERRULING PETITIONER'S OBJECTIONS AND
ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED FINDINGS AND
VÁZQUEZ United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's objections
(doc. 756) to the Magistrate Judge's Proposed
Findings and Recommended Disposition (“PFRD”)
(doc. 745) on Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions
(doc. 673) and accompanying briefing (docs. 770,
791, 807). Being fully advised, the Court overrules
Plaintiff's objections, denies Plaintiff's request to
consider newly discovered evidence, and adopts the PFRD.
Motion for Sanctions (doc. 673) was addressed by the
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
Under that provision, the Court's standard of review of a
magistrate judge's PFRD is de novo. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). When resolving objections to a
magistrate judge's PFRD, “[t]he district judge must
determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's
disposition that has been properly objected to. The district
judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended
disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter
to the magistrate judge with instructions.”
the Court finds that all of Plaintiff's objections to the
Magistrate Judge's PFRD (doc. 756) merely
attempt to relitigate factual issues already thoroughly
presented to and considered by the Magistrate Judge. The
Magistrate Judge, in making his determination, presided over
myriad discovery disputes, reviewed extensive briefing on
Plaintiff's motion, and presided over a full-day
evidentiary hearing, as well as a second hearing to allow
oral argument on the evidence presented, before finding that
Defendants' actions, though negligent, do not support the
severe sanctions requested by Plaintiff. Doc. 745.
Rather, the Magistrate Judge found that the circumstances
merit a lesser sanction. Specifically, he found that
Defendants must pay Plaintiff 75% of the costs associated
with its Motion for Sanctions. Id. at 34. Having
conducted a de novo review of the briefing and the
testimony at both hearings (docs. 735, 747), the
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's finding that
Plaintiff failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence
that Defendants acted with intent to deprive Plaintiff of the
information at issue, as required to order either a default
judgment or an adverse jury instruction as a sanction.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(e)(2). Accordingly, the Court hereby adopts
the PFRD as its own.
reaching this conclusion, the Court notes that in
Plaintiff's Reply, Plaintiff asks the Court to also
consider “newly discovered” evidence in rendering
its decision, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(2). Doc.
791. However, the Court will not and has not considered
this additional evidence in rendering its decision. Rather,
it finds that such evidence is not “newly
discovered.” See ClearOne Comm'ns, Inc. v.
Bowers, 643 F.3d 735, 757-58 (10th Cir. 2011)
(explaining that for evidence to be “new, ” it
must not have been available to the movant prior to the
hearing). Plaintiff admits that Defendants released the
pertinent evidence to Plaintiff as early as June 22, 2017,
and that Plaintiff reviewed the material between July 9 and
July 24, 2017, well before the hearing in this matter on
August 8, 2017. Doc. 791, Ex. 1. Although Plaintiff
contends that this information was not fairly accessible to
it by the time of the hearing, due to the complex nature of
review, Plaintiff did not move the Court to delay the
briefing or to reschedule the evidentiary hearing. Therefore,
the Court finds that these documents do not constitute newly
discovered material vindicating supplemental review.
even if the Court were to consider Plaintiff's
supplemental evidence, such consideration would not produce a
different result. Rather, the Court would not waver in its
determination that the Defendants did not commit
intentional spoliation. That determination
forecloses the severe sanctions sought by Plaintiff. The
Court recognizes that Defendants committed many errors
throughout the discovery process. However, the Court does not
agree with Plaintiff's contention that Defendants'
failure to produce these documents to Plaintiff prior to June
22, 2017 proves that Defendants engaged in willful or bad
faith actions warranting the imposition of the severe
sanctions requested by Plaintiff. Instead, the Court affirms
the Magistrate Judge's finding that Defendants'
negligence does not meet the level of intentionality
necessary to justify sanctions in the form of default
judgment or an adverse jury instruction.
it is ORDERED, that:
Plaintiff's objections (doc. 756) are OVERRULED;
Plaintiff's request for consideration of newly discovered
evidence (doc. 791) is DENIED; and
Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and Recommended
Disposition (doc. 745) is ADOPTED.