Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Rule 37(c)(1) Sanctions — Failure to Disclose Important Conversation in Complaint or Response to Interrogatory Leads to Exclusion When Offered on Summary Judgment (and to Loss on Summary Judgment) — Particularly Wide Latitude Given 37(c)(1) Sanctions

Oyarzo v. Turner, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22718 (9th Cir. Dec. 28, 2015):

3. We affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment for board members Darlene Hutchins and Joseph Turner on Oyarzo's First Amendment claim that they deterred him from protected political activity. In his opposition to summary judgment, [*4]  Oyarzo stated that his deterrence claim relied on a conversation he had with Turner, in which Oyarzo allegedly stated that he intended to continue pursuing the annexation of additional land into the fire district. But Oyarzo failed to mention the conversation in his complaint or disclose it in response to an on-point interrogatory, revealing it for the first time in a declaration supporting his opposition to summary judgment. The district court excluded the evidence under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(c)(1) and granted summary judgment as a result. We review a district court's discovery sanctions for abuse of discretion. Yeti by Molly, Ltd. v. Deckers Outdoor Corp., 259 F.3d 1101, 1105 (9th Cir. 2001). Given Oyarzo's failure to include the relevant conversation in his complaint or disclose it during discovery, the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the evidence and granting summary judgment. See id. at 1106 ("[W]e give particularly wide latitude to the district court's discretion to issue sanctions under Rule 37(c)(1).").

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