For the second time in recent months, city lawyers have cancelled Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi’s scheduled testimony on the award of the District’s controversial lottery contract.
Gandhi was originally scheduled to sit for a deposition in September as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by Eric W. Payne, his former contracting chief. But that interview was postponed, and now the rescheduled deposition, set for today, has been again cancelled.
Payne’s attorney, Donald Temple, filed a scathing motion in federal court today accusing the city of “not cooperating whatsoever” with his discovery efforts. He asked Monday for an emergency hearing on the matter but none was immediately granted.
Besides Gandhi, Payne and Temple sought to depose this week both his chief of staff, Angell Jacobs, and his operations director, Paul Lundquist.
Included in Temple’s court filings is an e-mail sent Friday by city attorney Sarah Knapp, explaining that Jacobs’ deposition had to be postponed due to a doctor’s appointment. Gandhi, she wrote, “will appear after the Court has resolved the outstanding discovery issues” — likely after Thanksgiving. Lundquist will appear this week as planned.
In one of the motions, Temple wrote that city lawyers had “fail[ed] miserably to explain why [they] continuously change and cancel deposition dates after confirmation thereof” and accuses them of engaging in “tactical discovery ploys ... designed to adversely affect the limited time allotted by this court.” In addition to the depositions, Temple is seeking e-mails and internal documents.
In a filing last month, the city said it “has continued to work in good faith to provide full responses to plaintiff’s discovery requests.” Scheduling deposition, Knapp wrote, “has not been an easy task.”
The dispute comes a week after U.S. District Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, ruling on pre-trial motions in the case, handed Payne and Temple a victory by ordering Mayor Vincent C. Gray and two D.C. Council members to sit for depositions in the case. City lawyers have vowed to appeal that ruling, but no formal challenge has yet been filed.
A hearing on the discovery matters is scheduled for Nov. 15 before Robinson.