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Powell v. Morgan Property Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division

November 20, 2019

BRIAN M. POWELL and TIFFANY POWELL, Plaintiffs,
v.
MORGAN PROPERTY SOLUTIONS, INC., Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          LESLIE R. HOFFMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         TO THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT:

         This cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the following motions filed herein:

MOTION: PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. 76)
FILED: September 26, 2019
THEREON it is respectfully RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED.
MOTION: DEFENDANT MORGAN PROPERTY SOLUTIONS' MOTION FOR SANCTIONS PURSUANT TO RULE 37 AND RULE 41(B) FOR NOT OBEYING A DISCOVERY ORDER (Doc. 74)
FILED: September 25, 2019
THEREON it is respectfully RECOMMENDED that the motion be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The tortured history of this case began on April 20, 2018 when Plaintiffs Brian M. Powell (“Mr. Powell”) and Tiffany Powell (“Mrs. Powell”), both of whom are proceeding pro se and have been granted in forma pauperis status (see Doc. 14), filed a four-count Complaint against Defendant Morgan Property Solutions, Inc. (“Morgan Property”) alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(1)(A) and (C) (“FHA”) (Counts 1-3), and a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681m(a) (“FCRA”) (Count 4). (Doc. 7).[1] On June 4, 2018, the Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint removing the FCRA claim and proceeding solely on two counts of discrimination under the FHA. (Doc. 9).

         Unfortunately, since the filing of the amended complaint, the parties have engaged in contentious motions and discovery practice which, in the undersigned's opinion, has unnecessarily prolonged the litigation of this case, as well as wasted attorney, litigant, and Court resources. Numerous unsuccessful motions for default have been filed (see Docs. 19, 23, 26-29, 31), as well as various motions for sanctions. (Docs. 34, 36, 44). The parties also experienced extreme difficulties in agreeing on the most basic of discovery and trial management issues - the Court was forced to hold a preliminary pretrial conference in order to establish the Case Management and Scheduling Order (“CMSO”) in this case. (Docs. 36, 41-44, 46-48). Several motions to compel followed. (Docs. 63, 70).

         On September 5, 2019, the undersigned held a hearing on Morgan Property's motion to compel Mr. Powell's[2] attendance at deposition. (Docs. 63, 68). Mr. Powell refused to appear in person at his deposition, but instead sought to be deposed remotely via telephone or online in order to accommodate the numerous physical and mental impairments that he suffers from. Morgan Property refused to accommodate this request. After hearing argument from both sides, the undersigned scheduled Mr. Powell's deposition for September 25, 2019 at 10:00 a.m., to be held at his current place of residence. (Doc. 69 at 3). The undersigned further accommodated Mr. Powell by directing counsel for Morgan Property to conduct the deposition remotely, using appropriate audiovisual recording equipment - the only persons who would appear at Mr. Powell's residence would be the court reporter. (Id.). The undersigned's order (which was issued on the same day as the hearing - September 5, 2019) further stated that “[i]f either party must change any aspect of [Mr. Powell's] deposition, that party must timely file an appropriate motion explaining why the relief sought is necessary. Changing any aspect of [Mr. Powell's] depositions set forth in this Order without Court approval may result in the imposition of sanctions against the offending party.” (Id. at 4 (emphasis in original)).

         Unfortunately, Mr. Powell did not heed the undersigned's warnings. On September 25, 2019, the court reporter hired by Morgan Property arrived at Mr. Powell's current place of residence on time to conduct the deposition. (Doc. 74). Mr. Powell did not allow the court reporter entrance into his ...


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