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Singer Oil Company LLC v. Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

June 5, 2018

SINGER OIL COMPANY, LLC, an Oklahoma limited liability company, Plaintiff,
v.
NEWFIELD EXPLORATION MID-CONTINENT, INC., a foreign corporation domesticated to do business in Oklahoma; and HALLIBURTON ENERGY SERVICES, INC., a foreign corporation domesticated to do business in Oklahoma, Defendants.

          ORDER

          VICKI MLLES-LAGRANGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is defendant Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent, Inc.'s (“Newfield”) Motion for Litigation Sanctions against Plaintiff, Singer Oil Company, LLC, filed December 18, 2017. On January 2, 2018, plaintiff filed its response, and on January 9, 2018, Newfield filed its reply. Based on the parties' submissions, the Court makes its determination.

         On November 2, 2016, Newfield served its First Set of Discovery Requests in this case on plaintiff. Interrogatory No. 10 provides:

Identify all persons whom you believe have knowledge of any and all relevant facts pertaining to your claims and defenses in this case, and Defendant's claims and defenses in this case, and describe the issues of which they have knowledge.

         Defendant Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc.'s First Set of Discovery Requests to Plaintiff, attached as Exhibit 1 to Defendant, Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc.'s Motion for Litigation Sanctions Against Plaintiff, Singer Oil Company, LLC, and Brief in Support, at 9-10. Further, Request for Production No. 4 provides:

Produce any and all documents that you have in your possession, custody, or control, including but not limited to, all communications of any kind, relating to, referring to, or in any way referencing Newfield, the Smith Well, the Edgar Well, or the subject of this lawsuit.

Id. at 11. Additionally, Request for Production No. 5 provides:

Produce any and all correspondence between you and Newfield, or between you and any other person or entity, with respect to Newfield, the Smith Well, the Edgar Well or the subject of this lawsuit.

Id. at 12.

         On November 15, 2016, plaintiff served its responses to Newfield's discovery requests. Plaintiff represented that it had fully and truthfully answered the interrogatories and had produced or would produce all responsive documents to the requests for production. After receiving plaintiff's responses and its document production, counsel for Newfield followed up with plaintiff's counsel, who confirmed that all responsive documents had been produced, and plaintiff did not claim privileged status for any unproduced documents, whether by producing a privilege log or otherwise. Neither plaintiff's response to Interrogatory No. 10 nor the documents produced in response to Requests for Production Nos. 4 and 5 were supplemented during the course of this case.

         After this case was tried to a jury in November 2017, plaintiff filed its Amended Motion to Recover Attorney's Fees. Newfield asserts that upon reviewing the time records attached to plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees, it became aware, for the first time, that throughout the course of this litigation, plaintiff's attorney frequently corresponded by e-mail with numerous third parties regarding not only Newfield generally, but specifically regarding several of the issues that were disputed in this litigation and the two wells at issue in this case. Newfield further asserts that at least two of the communications took place before plaintiff served its discovery responses.

         Newfield contends that under the discovery rules, plaintiff was under an obligation to disclose the communications between its attorney and third parties that had already taken place at the time of its original discovery responses and to supplement its responses when the additional communications came into existence. Newfield, therefore, contends that the Court is obligated to impose a sanction against plaintiff for its violation of the discovery rules pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(g)(3) and has the discretion to impose a sanction for the failure to supplement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(e)(1)(A). Newfield specifically requests the Court to sanction plaintiff by denying plaintiff's Bill of Costs, Motion to Recover Costs, and Amended Motion to Recover Attorney's Fees.

         In its response, plaintiff asserts that it did not violate the Court's orders, did not violate the spirit of the Court's orders, and did not violate the letter or spirit of the discovery code. Further, in its response, plaintiff explains each time entry referenced in Newfield's motion. Additionally, plaintiff asserts that no new documents were produced as a result of its counsel's communications with the third ...


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