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Angel Muniz v. C.O. Sullivan

November 16, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Carlson

(Judge Caputo)



In this civil action, plaintiff Angel Muniz, a former inmate incarcerated at the Schuylkill County Prison, has sued a number of the prison's correctional officers, alleging that they used or facilitated the use of excessive force against him during an incident that occurred on May 28, 2010.*fn1 Plaintiff has filed three separate motions seeking to compel defendants to produce discovery in this case. (Docs. 36, 38, and 39) The Court entered an order setting forth a briefing schedule with respect to each of the motions. (Doc. 40) Notwithstanding this order, plaintiff has only filed one brief that appears to be offered only in support of his motion to compel defendant Berdanier to respond more fully to three specific interrogatories. (Doc. 45) Defendants have filed a brief opposing this particular motion (Doc. 50) On November 7, 2011, plaintiff filed a reply brief in further support of his motion to compel defendant Berdanier's responses to the interrogatories. (Doc. 54) Neither party has filed a brief addressing either of the other two motions to compel. Accordingly, based on the limited briefing we have received, we find that plaintiff's motion to compel further responses from defendant Berdanier is now ripe for disposition, and for the reasons that follow will be granted in part. Specifically, the Court will direct the defendants to produce documents responsive to the three interrogatories that are the subject of that particular motion for in camera review. Following this review, the Court will make a determination as to whether the responsive materials are properly discoverable in this action.

With respect to plaintiff's remaining two motions (Docs. 36, 38), we find that these motions are not properly ripe for disposition, because plaintiff has failed to file a timely brief in support of either motion explaining the legal basis for the relief sought. Although a plaintiff's failure to file a brief in support of a motion ordinarily would permit this Court to find the motion to have been withdrawn, see Local Rule 7.5, in this case we will endeavor to give plaintiff one final opportunity to support these motions with properly filed briefs. Provided that plaintiff files briefs in support of these motions, we will permit further briefs in accordance with the Local Rules of this Court, and we will thereafter rule on each of the motions. In the event plaintiff fails to file briefs in support of the motions in accordance with the instructions in this order, the motions will be deemed withdrawn without further notice.


As noted, the gravamen of plaintiff's complaint is that the defendants subjected him to excessive force during an incident at the prison on May 28, 2010. Plaintiff has also alleged that defendant Mark Sullivan was later terminated for misconduct, and plaintiff has suggested that defendant Sullivan had a history of using excessive force against inmates at the prison. Indeed, it appears plaintiff has indicated that defendant Sullivan may have been fired for an incident involving the use of excessive force against another inmate at the prison that occurred in June or July 2010. Accordingly, as part of his discovery requests, plaintiff has propounded interrogatories on defendant Berdanier specifically seeking information about investigations into allegations against Mark Sullivan's conduct while he was employed at the prison, including the results of any formal investigation into allegations that Mr. Sullivan had assaulted inmates.

Defendants have responded, in part, to this discovery but they have resisted responding fully to some of the requests, arguing either that the discovery is irrelevant, seeks information about an individual who has not properly been made a party to this action, or otherwise seeks evidence that would be inadmissible at trial. (Doc. 50.)

Plaintiff now seeks to compel further responses to the following interrogatories that were propounded upon defendant Berdanier:

10. In the reprimand/firing of Mark Sullivan what did your Investigation reveal?

11. Who were victim, witnesses, medical staff and Law enforcement involved with the assault by Mark Sullivan on inmate in medical cell on June or July 2010?

20. Did the victim of the assault by Sullivan when he was reprimanded/fired, file criminal charges, grievances, lawsuit?

Defendants objected to these interrogatories directed at defendant Berdanier to the extent the discovery sought relates to parties who have not been served with a complaint, individuals who are not parties to this action or instances other than the May 28, 2010 incident which is the subject matter of this action on the ground that discovery seeks information that is not relevant to the subject ...

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