United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
GREG N. STIVERS, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J, DN 112). The motion has been completely briefed and is now ripe for a decision. For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion.
On April 8, 2014, Plaintiffs noticed their intent to serve a subpoena upon, inter alia, then-third-party Hein Oil Gathering & Transport, LLC ("HOGT"). (Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoenas, DN 15). On May 30, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Third Party Subpoena Responses (Pls.' Mot. to Compel Third Party Subpoena Resps., DN 28 [hereinafter Mot. to Compel]) holding HOGT and others in contempt and ordering them to provide full and complete responses to Plaintiffs' subpoena. (Order, DN 31).
On September 2, 2014, with leave of court, Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Verified Complaint ("Amended Complaint") naming, among others, HOGT as an additional defendant. (First Am. V. Compl., DN 60 [hereinafter Am. Compl.]). Plaintiffs added, inter alia, Count XXXVI against HOGT for enforcement of the Court's May 30, 2014, order compelling it to respond to the subpoena served upon it. (Am. Compl. 47).
In the present motion, Plaintiffs note that HOGT is in violation of the Court's order entered May 30, 2014 (the "Order"). (Mem. in Supp. of Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J. 11, DN 112-1 [hereinafter Mem. in Supp. of Summ. J.]). Plaintiffs request that, in light of HOGT's failure to comply with the Order, the Court enter an order and judgment granting summary judgment as to Count XXXVI of the Amended Complaint. (Mem. in Supp. of Summ. J., at 14-15).
On May 8, 2015, the parties participated in a settlement conference and reached an amicable resolution to their claims, with the exception of all claims to which HOGT is named as a defendant. (Order, DN 135). The Court thus analyzes this motion as applicable solely to HOGT.
The Court construes Count XXXVI of the Amended Complaint as a request to hold HOGT in contempt, and construes the pending Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as a motion to hold HOGT in contempt that supplements the request in Count XXXVI of the Amended Complaint.
This Court has original jurisdiction of "all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, as is between... citizens of different states." 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiffs assert in the Amended Complaint that "there is complete diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00, exclusive of interest and costs." (Am. Compl. 6-7). Accordingly, the Court has jurisdiction over this matter.
III. GOVERNING LAW
"Courts of justice are universally acknowledged to be vested, by their very creation, with power to impose silence, respect, and decorum, in their presence, and submission to their lawful mandates." Chambers v. NASCO, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43 (1991) (quoting Anderson v. Dunn, 6 Wheat 204, 227 (1821)) (internal quotation marks omitted). "These powers are governed not by rule or statute but by the control necessarily vested in courts to manage their own affairs so as to achieve the orderly and expeditious disposition of cases.'" Id. (quoting Link v. Wabash R. Co., 370 U.S. 626, 630-31 (1962)). "[I]t is firmly established that [t]he power to punish for contempts is inherent in all courts.'" Id. (second alteration in original) (quoting Ex parte Robinson, 19 Wall. 505, 510 (1874)). The Supreme Court has recognized that outright dismissal of a lawsuit, while "particularly severe... is within the court's discretion. Consequently, the less severe sanction' of an assessment of attorney's fees is undoubtedly within a court's inherent power as well." Id. (citation omitted) (quoting Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 765 (1980)). "[A] court may assess attorney's fees as a sanction for the willful disobedience of a court order.'" Id. (quoting Alyeska Pipeline Serv. Co. v. Wilderness Soc'y, 421 U.S. 240, 258 (1975)).
In its response to the motion, HOGT argues that it was improperly served with the subpoena. (Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J., DN 119). HOGT additionally argues that, because it was not properly served with the subpoena, the May 30, 2014, Order violated its due process rights. (Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J.). Alternatively, HOGT argues that there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether or not the service of process agent listed on the Kentucky Secretary of State's website for HOGT was a manager of HOGT, and thus whether or not HOGT was properly served. (Def.'s Resp. to Pls.' Mot. for Partial ...