United States District Court, D. North Dakota
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
L. Hovland, United States District Court Chief Judge
the Court is the Plaintiff Northland Royalty Corp.'s
(Northland) motion for sanctions filed on July 28, 2017.
See Docket No. 26. The Defendant, Statoil Oil &
Gas, L.P, (Statoil) filed a response in opposition to the
motion on August 11, 2017. See Docket No. 28. On
August 17, 2017, the Plaintiff filed a reply brief. For the
reasons set forth below, the motion is denied and the parties
are ordered to attend a status conference before Magistrate
Judge Charles S. Miller, Jr.
dispute stems from the alleged non-compliance with a
stipulated scheduling order. After the Court denied
Northland's motion for summary judgment, the Court held a
status conference in mid-August 2016. See Docket
Nos. 20 and 22. At the status conference, the parties
discussed a joint proposal to resolve the matter without the
need for a trial. See Docket No. 22. The Court
advised it would cancel the trial set for September 19, 2016,
and reset it at a later date if necessary. See
Docket No. 22. After eight months passed, the parties
presented the Court with a stipulation and agreed scheduling
order. See Docket No. 24. On April 19, 2017, the
Court adopted the stipulation and scheduling order, which
states in relevant part:
1. Within 60 days from the entry of this order, Statoil shall
provide documentation of the chain of record title for the
disputed oil and gas interests from the first undisputed or
2. Within 45 days of the exchange of title documentation,
counsel for the parties shall confer and endeavor to submit a
joint stipulated submission of the relevant title documents
to the Court, along with the simultaneous filing of each
Parties' detailed proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusion
of Law, and a proposed Order along with a brief in support of
their respective position.
3. Within 20 days after the presentation of their initial
submissions, each party may submit a response brief.
See Docket No. 25.
motion for sanctions, Northland claims that after repeated
attempts to gain compliance, Statoil failed to produce the
agreed upon “documentation of the chain of record title
for the disputed oil and gas interests from the first
undisputed or common title” (hereafter “title
documents”). Northland chronologizes a series of emails
sent by its counsel to Statoil requesting the title documents
and/or an update on the status of the title documents
beginning on June 21, 2017 (Docket No. 27-2 “Exhibit
2”) and ending July 6, 2017 (Docket No. 27-5
“Exhibit 5”). Northland requests sanctions for
Statoil's non-compliance in the form of (1) finding
Statoil in contempt; (2) entering default judgment in favor
of Northland on its claims against Statoil; and (3) costs and
attorney's fees for the motion for sanctions.
See Docket No. 27.
asserts that Northland's motion is without merit but
admits that it faced two unforseen challenges in complying
with the scheduling order: first, it took Statoil longer than
anticipated to reconstruct the chain of title, and second,
Statoil did not have in its possession many of the deeds and
transfers and had to obtain them from public filings.
See Docket No. 28-1 Declaration of Robert Theriot.
Statoil further admits that the title documents that were
ultimately provided were not provided until after the date
set in the scheduling order. See Docket No. 28-1.
Nevertheless, Statoil argues that the sanctions are not
warranted. In its reply, Northland acknowledges receipt of
some title documents, but asserts Statoil has get to provide
all of the title documents contemplated in the stipulated
scheduling order. See Docket No. 29.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16(f), “if a party
or its attorney . . . fails to obey a scheduling order . .
.”, the Court may issue “any just orders,
including those authorized by Rule
37(b)(2)(A)(ii)-(vii).” The sanctions enumerated in
Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(ii)-(vii) include a finding of a party in
contempt and rendering a default judgment against the
disobedient party.” Rule 16(f)(2) also provides that:
instead of or in addition to any other sanction, the court
must order the party, its attorney, or both to pay the
reasonable expenses - including attorney's fees -
incurred because of any noncompliance with this rule, unless
the noncompliance was substantially justified or other
circumstances made an award of expenses unjust.
Whether to issue such sanctions “is entrusted to [a]
district court's sound discretion.” United
Statesv. Eleven Million Seventy-One Thousand One
Hundred & Eighty-Eight Dollars & Sixty-Four Cents
($11, 071, 188.64) in U.S. Currency, No. 15-1743, 2016
WL 3144679, at *2 (8th Cir. June 6, 2016). The factual
question is “whether the evidence supports the chosen
sanction.” Id. (quotation marks and citation
omitted). Where a party fails to comply with a ...