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Williams v. Grant County

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Pendleton Division

August 25, 2017

DOUGLAS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
GRANT COUNTY, SHERIFF GLENN PALMER, JACKSON DEROSIER, and MICHAEL ALLEY, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PATRICIA SULLIVAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pro se plaintiff Douglas Williams, a prisoner at the Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras, Oregon, brings this civil rights action against defendants Grant County, Sheriff Glenn Palmer, Jackson Derosier, and Michael Alley. Defendants move to compel plaintiff to respond to their First Set of Interrogatories and First Request for Production. (Docket No. 68). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS defendants' Motion to Compel.

         BACKGROUND

         This action concerns an apparent suicide attempt that plaintiff made while on suicide watch as a detainee at the Grant County Jail in September 2013, and defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to plaintiff's mental health needs.

         Plaintiff, represented by counsel, commenced this action on September 17, 2015. (Docket No. 1). On December 23, 2015, defendants served their First Set of Interrogatories and First Request for Production on plaintiff. Jagelski Decl. ¶ 2 (Docket No. 69). Plaintiff was not required to respond immediately to the discovery requests because the Court had stayed discovery pending defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. (Docket Nos. 18 & 21). On September 12, 2016, the Court denied that Motion to Dismiss. (Docket No. 40). Because the Court had ruled on defendants' Motion, the discovery stay was no longer in effect, and defendants on September 13, 2016, wrote to plaintiff to request he respond to their discovery requests within 30 days. Jagelski Decl., Ex. 3 (Docket No. 69-3). Plaintiff did not respond to the discovery requests. On November 16, 2016, plaintiff's counsel moved to withdraw (Docket No. 47), which the Court granted on January 3, 2017 (Docket No. 54). Also on November 16, 2016, defendants moved to dismiss for lack of prosecution, in part based on plaintiff's failure to respond to the discovery requests. (Docket No. 45). The Court denied defendants' Motion to Dismiss, holding, “Defendants raise what is essentially a discovery dispute . . . . The proper response is to appeal to the Court's discovery dispute resolution procedures, or to move to compel.” Op. & Order, at 4 (Docket No. 61).

         On April 13, 2017, defendants again wrote to plaintiff, asking him to respond to their discovery requests. Jagelski Decl., Ex. 4 (Docket No. 69-4). In response, plaintiff wrote defendants several letters in which he directed defendants to documents that he had filed with the Court and that his former attorney had “put together, ” stated that he had provided defendants with copies of documents and asked for them back, and said that he could not answer the interrogatories because he never received them. Id., Ex. 5, 6, 8 (Docket Nos. 69-5, 69-6, 69-8). Defendants again requested that plaintiff provide responsive documents (and not the documents already filed with the Court), and provided another copy of their interrogatories. Id., Ex. 7 & 9 (Docket No. 69-7, 69-9).

         On May 11, 2017, defendants moved to compel plaintiff to answer their First Set of Interrogatories (Docket No. 62), which the Court denied without prejudice on July 12, 2017, because defendants failed to comply with Local Rule 37-1's requirement that they provide the subject interrogatories along with their Motion (Docket No. 67).

         On July 11, 2017, defendants deposed plaintiff. Jagelski Decl., Ex. 11 (Docket No. 69-11). There, plaintiff initially testified, regarding defendants' requests for production, that “I've sent you everything.” Id., Williams Depo., 53:7. However, plaintiff later testified that he in fact had additional documents that he had not given defendants, including “kite” forms and “suicide notes.” Id., 70:13-20, 72:2. These documents were in a box “at [plaintiff's] house out on the streets, ” but he had “no way of getting to [them] until [he was] out of prison.” Id., 70:18-24. Plaintiff then stated that the documents were in fact not at his house, but at “the place where [he] was staying, ” and that he did not know the address or even street name of the house. Id., 70:22-24, 72:22-73:2. Further, plaintiff said that he did not have contact information for one “Mr. Martini” who would have access to the house. Id., 72:22-73:2.

         On August 9, 2017, defendants filed this Motion to Compel. (Docket No. 68). Defendants include the interrogatories and requests for production at issue. Jagelski Decl., Ex. 1 & 2 (Docket Nos. 69-1 & 69-2). Plaintiff failed to respond to defendants' Motion to Compel by the August 23, 2017, deadline.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iii) and (iv), a party may move for an order compelling answers to interrogatories or the production of requested documents.

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “Failure to object to a discovery request within the time permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, or within the time to which the parties have agreed, constitutes a waiver of any objection.” L.R. 26-5(a). Motions to compel ...


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