United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
KATHRYN T. CRAIG and KOR ISLAND PROVISIONS, LLC, Plaintiffs,
ROMAN KROPP, SHERRI KROPP and DYLAN KROPP, Defendants.
MIRANDO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court upon review of Defendants'
Letter, Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike and for Sanctions,
and Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Mediation and for
Sanctions. Docs. 50, 51, 52. For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' Letter and Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike
and for Sanctions will be denied without prejudice.
Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Mediation and for Sanctions
will be granted in part and denied in part.
case was removed from state court on March 31, 2017. Doc. 1.
The allegations in the Complaint against Defendants Roman
Kropp, Sherri Kropp, and Dylan Kropp (“the
Kropps”) involve a soured business relationship due to
the misappropriation of commercial funds. See
generally Doc. 2. One such allegation is that Roman
Kropp falsely represented to Plaintiff Kathryn Craig that he
had purchased a property at 661 Cardium Street, Sanibel
Island (“the Property”) for Plaintiff KOR Island
Provisions, LLC (“KOR Island”) when in reality he
had misappropriated KOR Island funds to purchase the property
in his own name. Doc. 2 ¶¶ 15, 21. The parties
dispute whether Plaintiffs were aware Roman Kropp purchased
the Property in his own name. Doc. 41 at 1-2.
October 10, 2017, the Kropps, through counsel, filed a motion
to compel the production of tax returns and financial
information for the period after January 1, 2012 because
“[w]hether [Plaintiffs] considered and treated [the
Property] as their property during the years between its
acquisition and sale as alleged in the complaint is a
substantial issue in this action.” Doc. 41 at 2.
Plaintiffs opposed the motion because the requests sought
highly sensitive and confidential “financial wealth
information” immaterial to any issues in the case. Doc.
42 at 3, 5. The Court ordered Plaintiffs to respond to the
Kropps' requests for production, but limited the scope of
the requests to “information concerning financial
transactions related to the Property from April 2012 to
November 2016.” Doc. 43 at 7.
April 5, 2018, the Kropps filed two identical letter motions
requesting to appear pro se and to conduct their
depositions outside of Florida. See Docs. 45, 46.
Because Defendants' counsel had not filed a motion to
withdraw, the Court denied the Kropps' motion to appear
pro se and cancelled the scheduled depositions
pending resolution of the Kropps' representation.
See Doc. 47. Counsel for the Kropps subsequently
filed a motion to withdraw, which the Court granted.
See Docs. 48, 49. In granting the motion, the Court
warned the Kropps that “the right to
self-representation does not exempt a party from compliance
with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.”
Doc. 49 at 2 (quoting Sanders v. Fluor Daniel, Inc.,
151 F.R.D. 138, 139 (M.D. Fla. 1993), aff'd sub nom.
Sanders v. Fluor Daniels, Inc., 36 F.3d 93 (11th Cir.
1994)). The Court also warned the Kropps that failure to
comply with the Court's Orders or the Federal or Local
Rules could result in sanctions. Id. at 3.
Kropp has now filed a letter requesting that the Court (1)
permit depositions to be conducted telephonically and (2)
compel Plaintiffs to produce KOR's tax returns for 2013,
2014 and 2015 insofar as they pertain to Roman Kropp as an
employee of KOR, any payments made to him by KOR, and any
reference to the Property. Doc. 50. Plaintiffs responded with
a motion to strike Roman Kropp's letter and a request for
sanctions in the form of attorney's fees incurred in
drafting its motion. Doc. 51. Plaintiffs also filed a motion
to compel mediation and a similar request for sanctions. Doc.
Kropps' letter motion will be denied without prejudice
for failure to comply with the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure and the Middle District of Florida Local Rules. The
Court warns the Kropps for the second time that their
self-representation does not entitle them to forego
compliance with the applicable procedural and substantive
laws. A request for relief from the Court must be made by
motion, and a letter to the Court does not suffice.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(b); M.D. Fla. R. 3.01(f). Local Rule 1.05
provides the stylistic requirements for motions, and Local
Rule 3.01 outlines the rules related to motion practice,
including that the movant “must include a concise
statement of the precise relief requested, a statement of the
basis for the request, and a memorandum of legal authority in
support of the request” and confer with opposing
counsel before filing a motion. M.D. Fla. R. 3.01(a), (g).
the Court already ordered Plaintiffs to produce the tax
returns and financial information concerning financial
transactions related to the Property from April 2012 to
November 2016, and Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Compliance
with the Order. See Docs. 43, 44. To the extent the
Kropps seek reconsideration of the Court's March 1, 2018
Order, the motion is denied. If the Kropps believe Plaintiffs
failed to produce all the documents they were ordered to
produce, then the Kropps may file a proper motion with the
Court in compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
and the Local Rules after properly conferring with counsel
for Plaintiffs. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 7(b), 37; M.D.
Fla. R. 1.05, 3.01, 3.04(a).
the Plaintiffs' motion to compel mediation (Doc. 52), the
Court clarifies to the Kropps that the parties are required
to mediate in person. Therefore, the parties are
directed to meaningfully confer to arrange a date and time
for mediation. The deadline for mediation will remain June
22, 2018, unless the parties-after a meaningful
conference-determine they are unable to meet the
deadline and must seek an extension from the Court.
See Doc. 37. If the Kropps refuse to arrange an
in-person mediation, the Court may set a Court hearing and/or
order the Kropps to show cause for their failure to comply
with the Court's Orders. Therefore, Plaintiffs'
motion to compel is granted insofar as it requested the Court
to order the Kropps to mediate in person. The parties are
also directed to meaningfully confer about scheduling the
depositions the Court cancelled in its April 6, 2018 Order.
See Doc. 47.
Plaintiffs admonish and seek sanctions against Roman Kropp
for failure to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
and Local Rules, Plaintiffs failed to comply with Local Rule
3.01(g) in both of their motions, erroneously asserting
“the rule contemplates conference with opposing counsel
and Defendants are appearing pro se.” Doc. 51
at 3; Doc. 52 at 3. Local Rule 3.01(g) requires parties to
confer with unrespresented parties as they would counsel.
See M.D. Fla. R. 3.01(g); Rigley v. Livingston
Fin. LLC, No. 6:12-cv-617, 2012 WL 12915480, at *1 (M.D.
Fla. Dec. 4, 2012). Plaintiffs are not exempted from
conferring with the Kropps simply because they have elected
to represent themselves. Plaintiffs may have been able to
avoid incurring attorney's fees related to the
preparation of their motions had they conferred with the
Kropps as contemplated by Local Rule 3.01(g). Therefore,
Plaintiffs' motion to strike and all other relief sought
in their motion to compel will be denied without prejudice.
DENIED without prejudice.