U.S. District Court Judge Charles Shaw sanctioned Webster University Associate Professor Tracey McCarthy on Nov. 8 in her case against the school. In his explanation for the sanctions, Shaw said McCarthy ignored a court order and deliberately disregarded court proceeding obligations. McCarthy sued the university in August 2011 for employment discrimination.
“In the court’s view, plaintiff (McCarthy), who is a licensed lawyer herself, has behaved as if the rules of the court do not apply to her,” Shaw’s explanation read.
Shaw supplied the following reasons for the sanctions in his brief:
—McCarthy failed to provide written responses to all of Webster’s document requests as ordered.
—McCarthy did not appear for a deposition on Oct. 22, for which she received proper notice.
—McCarthy did not seek relief from the court after the deposition notice was served, and she did not call Webster’s counsel to let the attorneys know she would not appear.
—Webster waited eight months for responses to its document requests.
—Webster incurred the costs of filing a motion to compel. McCarthy still has not responded fully to the document requests, despite being ordered to do so.
—McCarthy agreed to return to finish her deposition, but deliberately ignored a deposition notice and refused to sit for deposition.
—McCarthy’s failure to cooperate in the discovery process has not allowed Webster to explore the full extent of her claims.
—McCarthy’s conduct may also affect the court’s ability to manage the orderly progression of the case.
Shaw ordered McCarthy to comply with Webster’s written document requests and sit for deposition. Shaw also fined McCarthy $500 and ordered her to pay Webster’s attorneys’ fees and costs related to the delay.
Furthermore, Shaw ordered McCarthy to submit a phone number where she could be readily reached. Weeks earlier, McCarthy submitted the phone number for Webster’s legal studies department, of which she is a faculty member. McCarthy has since supplied another phone number and fulfilled the document requests. She also sat down for deposition.
In her argument against the sanctions, McCarthy wrote she had complied with all of the court’s orders. In regard to document requests, McCarthy said Webster’s broad requests for documents would have been impossible for her to carry out.
Furthermore, McCarthy said her decision to list the legal studies department phone number as her contact number was based on previous experience — McCarthy said she used the number for contact purposes in the past and never had a problem.
McCarthy argued before Shaw that she was not required to sit for deposition because Webster took her deposition last spring.
McCarthy also said she would not continue mediation because she does not believe it will be productive.
“Defendant’s harassing, coercive, extortionist, retaliatory, browbeating and largely disrespectful behaviors laced with niceties and civilities during this litigation and mediation have resulted in plaintiff concluding that neither mediation nor facilitation with defendant’s counsel is appropriate in this case,” McCarthy’s response read.
Shaw ordered sanctions after Webster filed a motion for such on Oct. 25. Webster asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds of some of the issues listed above. Shaw said he believed McCarthy’s conduct could have warranted a dismissal. He decided against such action because he believed it to be too drastic. However, Shaw said any failure to comply with his order would result in a dismissal of McCarthy’s case.
McCarthy sued the university in August 2011 in St. Louis County Circuit Court on four counts: race discrimination, sex discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation. According to court documents, McCarthy is an African-American and suffers from cardiopulmonary disorder.
In September 2011, the case was moved to Missouri Eastern Federal District Court. McCarthy alleged damages of at least $25,000 on each count. McCarthy fired her attorney on July 10, 2012 and currently represents herself in the case.