A panel of the Fourth Circuit issued an unpublished per curiam opinion in Kronberg v. LaRouche affirming an order of dismissal without prejudice for failure to comply with discovery obligations. Appellants sought the harsher penalty of dismissal with prejudice, as well as a decision on a 12(b)(6) motion. But the appellate court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering dismissal without prejudice. The panel consisted of Judge Niemeyer, Judge Shedd, and Judge Davis.
Some key language:
[T]he decision to implement sanctions is left to the discretion of the trial court. In this case, the magistrate judge weighed the facts before it and ultimately concluded that—because Kronberg had been a diligent litigant when she had counsel of choice—it was unfair to dismiss the case with prejudice. This decision is consistent with the “strong policy that cases be decided on the merits, and that dismissal without deciding the merits is the most extreme sanction” that should only be done “with restraint.” United States v. Shaffer Equipment Co., 11 F.3d 450, 462 (4th Cir. 1993).