Defendant Zhen Lian McWilliams’ unopposed Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
If a party does not obey an order compelling further responses to interrogatories or requests for production of documents, the court may make those orders that are just. (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 2030.300(e), 2023.030(c).) The discovery statutes evince an incremental approach to discovery sanctions, starting with monetary sanctions and ending with the ultimate sanction of termination. (Doppes v. Bentley Motors, Inc. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 967, 992.) Discovery sanctions should be appropriate to the dereliction and should not exceed that which is required to protect the interests of the party entitled to but denied discovery. (Id.) Once a party is ordered by the court to provide responses to discovery, continued failure to respond may result in the imposition of more severe sanctions. (See Code Civ. Proc. §§ 2023.010(d), (g), 2023.030, 2030.300(e), and 2031.300(c).) It is only when a party persists in disobeying the court’s orders that the ultimate sanctions of dismissing the action or entering default judgment, etc. are justified. (See Deyo v. Kilbourne (1978) 84 Cal. App. 3d 771.)
Although plaintiff has failed to comply with the Court’s October 28, 2019 order and December 5, 2019 order, which direct him to provide verified discovery responses, without any objections, and impose monetary sanctions on him, defendant has not demonstrated that terminating sanctions are appropriate at this point. Although non-compliant, plaintiff made some effort to provide discovery responses. Exs. D and E. Additionally, defendant has not shown that lesser sanctions, such as issue or evidentiary sanctions (which were not requested in defendant’s motion), would not be effective. Since terminating sanctions are, at this juncture, too extreme, the motion to dismiss is denied.
However, defendant’s motion for monetary sanctions against plaintiff is granted. Plaintiff is ordered to pay monetary sanctions in the total amount of $1,260 (4 hours in connection with the preparation of the motion and appearance X $300 per hour, plus $60 filing fee) to Defendant, through her counsel, within 20 days. Additionally, plaintiff is ordered to provide verified responses, without any objections, to defendant’s first set of special interrogatories and requests for production of documents within 10 days.
Plaintiff is warned that he is expected to treat defendant and defense counsel with civility and respect. Personal attacks on defense counsel or defendant are not acceptable and will be considered by this court in determining whether to impose further sanctions in the future. Further, plaintiff is ordered to serve defense counsel at his business address or email address of record during business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) It is not appropriate to attempt personal service on defense counsel outside of those hours.
Plaintiff is also warned that further misuse of discovery or disobedience to this Court’s orders may result in more severe sanctions, including but not limited to, evidence or issue sanctions or dismissal of this entire action.
Defendant is ordered to give notice.