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Quarles v. Palakovich

September 16, 2010

IAN QUARLES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN A. PALAKOVICH, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chief Judge Kane

Magistrate Judge Carlson

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This is a civil rights action brought by Ian Quarles, a state inmate. In his complaint, Quarles, who is proceeding pro se, has named a number of prison staff as Defendants, alleging that these staff violated his constitutional rights by demonstrating deliberate indifference to his safety in connection with injuries suffered by Quarles on October 12, 2005, when part of the ceiling in the prison showers collapsed while he was using these facilities, allegedly causing him head and back injuries.

This matter now comes before the Court on a Motion to Compel filed by Quarles on August 10, 2010, which seeks further discovery responses from the Defendants in this case. (Doc. 106.) The Defendants have responded to this motion by arguing that the discovery requests which Quarles seeks to compel responses to are themselves untimely, having been submitted by the Plaintiff in July of 2010, nearly ten months after the discovery deadline lapsed in this matter. This motion has been fully briefed by the parties, (Docs. 107, 108, 111, 113), and is now ripe for resolution.

The issues raised by the parties relate to the timeliness of discovery requests, and the completeness of responses to those requests. Since the resolution of these competing claims turns on the threshold issue of whether Quarles' discovery requests are timely, it is necessary to briefly review the discovery history of this case.

Discovery proceedings in this case have spanned the past two years and began on July 3, 2008, when Quarles served interrogatories and requests for production of documents upon defense counsel. While this timely discovery request was pending, the Defendants sought, and obtained a stay of proceedings pursuant to the Service Members Civil Relief Act, 50 U.S.C. §§ 522, 525. (Doc. 45.) Despite the entry of this stay, the Defendants served Quarles with responses to his interrogatories and requests for production of documents on November 6, 2008. (See Exhibits appended to Doc. 63).

This stay of proceedings was lifted by the district court, Vanaskie, J., on February 20, 2009. (Doc. 59). Four months later, on June 17, 2009, the Court directed that all discovery was to be completed within ninety days, or by September 15, 2009.

(Doc. 65). On July 7, 2009, the Court further narrowed discovery disputes in this case when ruled on a motion to compel filed by Quarles and it directed the Defendants to provide responses to Plaintiff's requests for admissions, if they had not already done so. In fact, the Defendants had fulfilled their discovery obligations and had served responses to the requests for admissions on Quarles in November 2008. In all other respects, the district court rejected Quarles' request to compel further discovery from the Defendants. (Doc. 67.)

In the summer of 2009 the Court took several other steps to add clarity to the discovery process. For example, on July 14, 2009, in response to a request for clarification from Plaintiff, the Court advised Quarles that its prior discovery orders did not grant him leave to serve discovery requests in excess of the limits under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 69). On August 11, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion for leave to submit additional interrogatories, requests for admissions and requests for production of documents exceeding the limits under the Federal Rules. (Doc. 71.) The district court then denied this motion for leave to serve additional discovery requests on February 1, 2010. (Doc. 97). In addition, on September 17, 2009, Quarles filed a second motion to compel discovery.(Doc. 75.) On June 9, 2010, the Court denied Quarles' second motion to compel discovery, directing him instead to comply with the Department of Corrections' procedures for inmate review of documents if he wished to review documents that had been identified as responsive to his July 2008 discovery requests. (Doc. 100).

Thus, by the summer of 2010, the discovery deadline in this matter had lapsed, with discovery closing in September 2009. Moreover, Quarles' efforts to expand the scope of discovery had been rejected by the Court which had denied Quarles' requests to propound discovery in excess of that permitted by the rules. Furthermore, the Court had twice rejected efforts by Quarles to compel further discovery disclosures through various motions to compel.

Notwithstanding these rulings, on July 8, 2010, some ten months after the discovery deadline in this case had passed, Quarles served another request for production of documents upon defense counsel. That request sought production of the following: "1) housing unit logs from August-October 2005; 2) depositions taken from plaintiff [sic]; 3) still photos; 4) extraordinary incident occurrence reports.by all staff members; and 5) adverse material evidence against me..[sic]." (Doc.111, Ex. B.) Quarles was then informed by defense counsel that his July 8, 2010 discovery request was untimely and would not be responded to since the discovery period had expired in September, 2009.

This motion to compel then followed.

For the reasons set forth below, Quarles' motion will be denied since the motion seeks to compel answers ...


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