United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
TONY DEWAYNE BEARD, JR., a legally incapacitated person, by and through JOHNETTE FORD, his legal guardian, Plaintiff,
CITY OF SOUTHFIELD, et. al., Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING IN PART THE MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
 AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
G. Edmunds United States District Judge.
have moved for sanctions against Plaintiff's counsel,
Johnny Hawkins, and Plaintiff's guardian, Johnette Ford,
and Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford has provided the
Court a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") on
Defendants' motion. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court ADOPTS IN PART the R&R, GRANTS IN PART
Defendants' motion, and orders the following sanctions:
(1) Hawkins must reimburse Defendants half the reasonable
expenses they incurred in litigating the motion; (2)
Plaintiff's claim for deliberate indifference is
stricken; and (3) Ford cannot testify in Plaintiff's case
R&R provides an extensive factual background, and the
Court, having reviewed the record de novo, adopts
that background here. (See Dkt. 146, at 3-17.) To
summarize, Hawkins and Ford abused discovery procedures, and
Defendants seek a variety of sanctions, including dismissal.
Hawkins' misconduct included but was not limited to: (1)
violating the certification requirements of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 26(g); (2) raising a frivolous privilege
objection; (3) filing a misleading response to a motion to
compel; (4) failing to present materials at a deposition; and
(5) failing to reveal that Ford withheld documents from
production until pressed by the Court. (See id.)
Ford's misconduct included: (1) lying during her
deposition; (2) testifying while high on medication; (3)
altering documents; (4) destroying documents; (5) and
withholding documents from both Hawkins and the Court.
has objected that he did not receive a full and fair
opportunity to defend himself on Defendants' motion for
sanctions, so a brief history of the recent proceedings
follows. Before the Magistrate Judge issued the R&R, she
held two evidentiary hearings on Defendants' motion. The
first hearing, conducted on June 1, 2016, covered the conduct
of Hawkins (Dkt. 133), while the second, conducted on August
3, 2016, related to Ford.(Dkt. 145.) At the outset of the August
hearing on Ford's conduct, the Magistrate Judge, having
reviewed the evidence from the June hearing about Hawkins,
ruled orally that Hawkins must pay half of Defendants'
reasonable costs. (Dkt. 145, at 13-20.) The Magistrate Judge
then commenced hearing evidence against Ford.
Magistrate Judge has since recognized that she "was
mistaken" in issuing an oral ruling because
Defendants' motion requests dismissal, necessitating
review by this Court. (Dkt. 146, at 14-15; see also
28 U.S.C. 636(b)(1).) Accordingly, in September, she prepared
the R&R adopted in part here. The R&R, which accounts
for the evidence presented at both hearings, ultimately
recommends the same financial sanction for Hawkins that the
Magistrate Judge announced orally at the second hearing.
(Dkt. 146, at 31.)
R&R also concludes that: (1) Hawkins' conduct was
sanctionable pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26
and 37; and (2) Hawkins and Ford should both be sanctioned
under the Court's inherent authority. (Id. at
2.) It further recommends the following sanctions: (1)
ordering Hawkins to reimburse Defendants for half of the
reasonable expenses they incurred litigating their motion for
sanctions; (2) ordering that Ford be replaced as guardian;
(3) ordering that Plaintiff's claim for deliberate
indifference be stricken; (4) ordering that Ford cannot
testify in Beard's case in chief; and (5) denying
Defendants' request for dismissal. (Id. at 31.)
Ford, and Defendants have all filed objections to the
R&R. (Dkt. 147-48, 152.) For the reasons that follow, the
Court adopts in part the Magistrate Judge's R&R and
orders the following sanctions: (1) Hawkins must reimburse
Defendants half the reasonable expenses they incurred in
litigating the motion; (2) Plaintiff's claim for
deliberate indifference is stricken; and (3) Ford cannot
testify in Plaintiff's case in chief. The Court does not
Standard of Review
party objects to portions of a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation, the Court reviews such portions de
novo. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). However, only specific
objections that pinpoint a source of error are entitled to
de novo review. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d
636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). General objections, or those that
merely challenge the magistrate judge's ultimate
determinations, have "the same effects as would a
failure to object." Howard v. Sec'y of Health
and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).
That is, such objections are invalid, and the Court must
treat them as if they were waived. See Bellmore-Byrne v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016 WL 5219541, at *1 (E.D.
Mich. Sept. 22, 2016) (citing id.). Furthermore,
de novo review applies "only to matters
involving disputed facts, " not arguments regarding the
appropriate legal standard. Mira, 806 F.2d at 637
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
enumerates fifteen objections; however, the Court can discern
only six distinct objections, and it overrules ...