427 U.S. 639 (1976), 75-1558, National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club

Docket Nº:No. 75-1558
Citation:427 U.S. 639, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 49 L.Ed.2d 747
Party Name:National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club
Case Date:June 30, 1976
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 639

427 U.S. 639 (1976)

96 S.Ct. 2778, 49 L.Ed.2d 747

National Hockey League

v.

Metropolitan Hockey Club

No. 75-1558

United States Supreme Court

June 30, 1976

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES

COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT

Syllabus

District Court did not abuse its discretion in resorting to the extreme sanction of dismissing respondents' antitrust action against petitioners pursuant to Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 37, the court having found that, notwithstanding its admonitions and numerous extensions, respondents failed to respond to written interrogatories ordered by the court, and that, under the circumstances such failure manifested "flagrant bad faith" and "callous disregard" by respondents' counsel of their responsibilities.

Certiorari granted; 531 F.2d 1188, reversed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

This case arises out of the dismissal, under Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 37, of respondents' antitrust action against petitioners for failure to timely answer written interrogatories as ordered by the District Court. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the judgment of dismissal, finding that the District Court had abused its discretion. The question presented is whether the Court of Appeals was correct in so concluding. Rule 37(b)(2) provides in pertinent part as follows:

If a party . . . fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery . . . the court in which the action is pending may make such orders in regard to the failure as are just, and among others the following:

* * * *

(C) An order striking out pleadings or parts thereof, or staying further proceedings until the order is obeyed, or dismissing the action or proceeding

Page 640

or any part thereof, or rendering a judgment by default against the disobedient party.

This Court held in Societe Internationale v. Rogers, 357 U.S. 197, 212 (195), that Rule 37

should not be construed to authorize dismissal of [a] complaint because of petitioner's noncompliance with a pretrial production order when it has been established that failure to comply has been due to inability, and not to willfulness, bad faith, or any fault of petitioner.

While there have been amendments to the Rule since the decision in Rogers, neither the parties, the District Court, nor the Court of Appeals suggested that the changes would affect the teachings of the quoted language from that decision.

The District Court, in its memorandum opinion directing that respondents' complaint be dismissed, summarized the factual history of the discovery proceeding in these words:

After seventeen months, where crucial interrogatories remained substantially unanswered despite numerous extensions granted at the eleventh hour and, in many instances, beyond the eleventh hour, and notwithstanding several admonitions by the Court and promises and commitments by the plaintiffs, the Court must and does conclude that the conduct [96 S.Ct. 2780] of the plaintiffs demonstrates the callous disregard of responsibilities counsel owe to the Court and to their opponents. The practices of the plaintiffs exemplify flagrant bad faith when after being expressly directed to perform an act by a date certain, viz., June 14, 1974, they failed to perform and compounded that noncompliance by waiting until five days afterwards before they filed any motions.

Page 641

Moreover, this action was taken in...

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  • 116 F.R.D. 107 (S.D.Fla. 1987), 79-1788-Civ.-Marcus, Telectron, Inc. v. Overhead Door Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Southern District of Florida
    • June 4, 1987
    ...those who might be tempted to such conduct in the absence of such a deterrent. National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976). The Supreme Court in that case reversed an appellate decision invalidating a district court......
  • 124 F.R.D. 103 (D.Md. 1989), C. A. S 87-2855, Smith v. Cessna Aircraft Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit District of Maryland
    • February 14, 1989
    ...deter those who might be tempted to such conduct in the absence of such a deterrent. National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976) (per curiam) (upholding dismissal of case as sanction for violation of Rule 37). See also Li......
  • 124 F.R.D. 79 (D.Del. 1987), C. A. 83-185 LON, Hicks v. Feeney
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of Delaware
    • July 14, 1987
    ...of sanctions ... must be available to the district court in appropriate cases." Page 82 National Hockey League v. Met. Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976).3 As the discussion below illustrates, the Court believes that this is just such a The Court......
  • 127 F.R.D. 63 (S.D.N.Y. 1989), 86 Civ. 9491 (JMW), Quadrozzi v. City of New York
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • July 17, 1989
    ...and as a general deterrent against other parties in future litigation. Page 74 National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976) (per curiam); Cine Forty-Second Street Theatre Corp. v. Allied Artists Picture Corp., 602 F.2d. 1062, 1......
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2162 cases
  • 116 F.R.D. 107 (S.D.Fla. 1987), 79-1788-Civ.-Marcus, Telectron, Inc. v. Overhead Door Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 11th Circuit Southern District of Florida
    • June 4, 1987
    ...those who might be tempted to such conduct in the absence of such a deterrent. National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976). The Supreme Court in that case reversed an appellate decision invalidating a district court......
  • 124 F.R.D. 103 (D.Md. 1989), C. A. S 87-2855, Smith v. Cessna Aircraft Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 4th Circuit District of Maryland
    • February 14, 1989
    ...deter those who might be tempted to such conduct in the absence of such a deterrent. National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976) (per curiam) (upholding dismissal of case as sanction for violation of Rule 37). See also Li......
  • 124 F.R.D. 79 (D.Del. 1987), C. A. 83-185 LON, Hicks v. Feeney
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 3th Circuit District of Delaware
    • July 14, 1987
    ...of sanctions ... must be available to the district court in appropriate cases." Page 82 National Hockey League v. Met. Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 643, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976).3 As the discussion below illustrates, the Court believes that this is just such a The Court......
  • 127 F.R.D. 63 (S.D.N.Y. 1989), 86 Civ. 9491 (JMW), Quadrozzi v. City of New York
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Southern District of New York
    • July 17, 1989
    ...and as a general deterrent against other parties in future litigation. Page 74 National Hockey League v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 96 S.Ct. 2778, 49 L.Ed.2d 747 (1976) (per curiam); Cine Forty-Second Street Theatre Corp. v. Allied Artists Picture Corp., 602 F.2d. 1062, 1......
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    • United States
    • Journal of Law and Health Vol. 26 Nbr. 2, June 2013
    • June 22, 2013
    ...Cir. 1999) (citing Kronisch v. United States, 150 F.3d 112, 126 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Nat'l Hockey League v. Metro. Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 643 (1976) (holding that the District Judge did not abuse his discretion in finding bad faith ... and concluding that the extreme sanction ......
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    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 71 Nbr. 7, July 1997
    • July 1, 1997
    ...sanctions would not serve the punishment-and-deterrence goals set forth in National Hockey League [v. Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 96 S. Ct. 2778, 2781, 49 L.Ed.2d 746 (1976)] and its progeny. 116 F.R.D. at 131.[9] Pre-Suit Spoliation Nearly all of the Florida cases involve......
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    • Suffolk University Law Review Vol. 42 Nbr. 3, June 2009
    • June 22, 2009
    ...power to penalize and deter offenders with Rule 37 sanctions). (38.) See generally Nat'l Hockey League v. Metro. Hockey Club, Inc., 427 U.S. 639, 642-43 (1976) (demonstrating punitive and deterrent functions of sanctions). Dismissal is available to courts as an extreme sanction not only &qu......
  • A fair trial remedy for Brady violations.
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    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 115 Nbr. 6, April 2006
    • April 1, 2006
    ...at 894 (noting, however, that contempt proceedings are still "not cheap"). (49.) See Nat'l Hockey League v. Metro. Hockey Club, 427 U.S. 639, 643 (1976) (per curiam) ("[T]he most severe in the spectrum of sanctions provided by statute or rule must be available to the district......
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