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Duncan v. Administrator Crawford

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division

January 25, 2018

HENRY TIMBERLAKE DUNCAN, Plaintiff,
v.
ADMINISTRATOR CRAWFORD; ADMINISTRATOR KING; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER DAMERON; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JUSTIN JONES; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JAROD MARTIN; SERGEANT BRIAN STEPHENS; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER REBA POYNTER; CORRECTIONAL OFFICER STANLEY JARVIS; and CORRECTIONAL OFFICE RONALD WILLIAMSON, Defendants .

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          CHERY A. EIFERT, UNITED STATE MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The following motions are pending in this action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983:

1. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend the Second Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 52);
2. Defendants' Combined Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 76);
3. Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Discovery Deadline and Stay Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 81); and
4. Plaintiff's Motion to Admit All Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions as True, (ECF No. 82).

         Also relevant to the issues in dispute are Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel and to Show Cause Order, (ECF No. 69), and Plaintiff's Objection to the Order granting Defendants leave to file their dispositive motion late, (ECF No. 81). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Amend; GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Extend the Discovery Deadline; DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Stay, but holds in abeyance the filing of proposed findings and recommendations regarding Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment; and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Admit All of Plaintiff's Admissions.

         I. Relevant Procedural History

         On November 18, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they allowed inmates to physically assault Plaintiff while he was being held in Protective Custody. (ECF No. 2). In addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendant Dameron improperly confiscated Plaintiff's religious materials and failed to return them. (Id.). On April 14, 2017, the undersigned held a status conference and entered a Scheduling Order setting a discovery deadline of August 31, 2017. (ECF No. 20). On that same date, Plaintiff was permitted to file an amended complaint, (ECF No. 21), and discovery ensued. On May 26, 2017, Plaintiff was granted leave to file a second amended complaint, in which he added three additional defendants and a supervisory liability claim. (ECF No. 32).

         On June 16, 2017, Defendants filed Objections to Discovery Requests. (ECF No. 41). In these objections, Defendants complained that Plaintiff had exceeded the permissible number of interrogatories and argued that Plaintiff was seeking information that would prejudice the physical security and operations of the Western Regional Jail. (Id. at 2). Defendants did not attach the objectionable discovery requests to their filing, nor did they move the Court for a protective order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c) limiting the scope of discovery, or forbidding inquiry into certain matters.

         On August 10, 2017, the undersigned conducted a discovery conference. (ECF No. 48). During the discovery conference, the parties and the Court engaged in a discussion regarding Plaintiff's excessive interrogatories. Defendants' counsel admitted that Defendants had not yet responded to any of the interrogatories. Accordingly, the Court instructed Plaintiff to resubmit interrogatories to Defendants, limiting the number to 40 per defendant. Given that discovery was not yet completed, the Court issued an Amended Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 49). Under the amended order, the deadline for filing written discovery was extended to August 31, 2017, and the discovery deadline was extended to November 30, 2017. (Id. at 2). The parties were also ordered to engage in settlement discussions no later than December 15, 2017 and to file dispositive motions no later than January 5, 2018. Counsel for Defendants was ordered to arrange the settlement negotiations. (Id.).

         On August 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Certificate of Service, confirming that he had served Defendants' counsel on August 29, 2017, via United States Mail, with Requests for Admissions and a second set of interrogatories. (ECF No. 51). Two weeks later, Plaintiff filed the pending motion to amend the second amended complaint. (ECF No. 52). On October 2, 2017, Defendants filed responses to Plaintiff's discovery requests. (ECF Nos. 53, 54). On October 24, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel further responses to requests for admissions and to interrogatories. (ECF No. 56). The motion identified the objectionable responses by number and explained how the responses were insufficient. (Id.). The motion also rephrased some of the interrogatories, apparently to provide clarification of the information sought. (Id.).

         On November 13, 2017, after expiration of the time allowed for a response in opposition to the motion to compel, the undersigned entered an Order granting the motion on the basis that Defendants did not object to it. (ECF No. 57). Two days later, Defendants objected to the Order granting the motion, and filed a motion to stay the Order. (ECF No. 59). Construing the objection as a motion for additional time to respond to the motion to compel, the presiding District Judge granted Defendants an extension of time, giving them until November 24, 2017 to respond to the motion to compel. (ECF No. 63). The undersigned thereafter stayed the Order compelling discovery responses pending resolution of Defendants' objections to the discovery requests. (ECF Nos. 63, 64). On December 12, 2017, noting that Defendants had not filed a response in opposition to the motion to compel, the undersigned entered a Show Cause Order, giving Defendants until December 15, 2017 to file their response in opposition to the motion to compel and to show cause for their failure to comply with the Court's Order granting them an extension. (ECF No. 67).

         On December 15, 2017, Defendants filed a response to the Show Cause Order. (ECF No. 69). In addition, Defendants filed Certificates of Service, indicating that they had served supplemental ...


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