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Angel Muniz v. C.O. Sullivan

December 13, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

(Judge Caputo) (Magistrate Judge Carlson)



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 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 Interrogatory Nos. 10, 11, and 20 that were propounded upon him. (Doc. 39, 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.) The Court subsequently entered an order directing the defendants to produce additional responsive documents for in camera review. (Doc. 55.)

Defendants complied with this order and submitted the documents for the Court's review. Following our review of these materials, we conclude that the documents are not relevant to the claims that Muniz has brought in this action, as we find that they are comprised of investigative documents relating to an incident that occurred subsequent to the events alleged in the complaint, and the documents do not otherwise appear reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of other admissible evidence in this action. Accordingly, we conclude that the information that Defendants have furnished to Plaintiff with respect to Interrogatory Nos. 10, 11, and 20 directed to Defendant Berdanier are sufficiently responsive to these discovery requests, and we will not compel a further response.

Turning to Plaintiff's remaining motions to compel, we note that Plaintiff has not filed a brief supporting either motion, notwithstanding having been directed to do so. (Doc. 40.) Accordingly, we entered a subsequent order instructing Plaintiff to file supporting briefs not later than November 30, 2011, or the motions would be deemed withdrawn. (Doc. 55.) However, the Court has received notice that Plaintiff is no longer housed at the Manhattan Correctional Center in New York, the last address that the Court had on file with respect to Plaintiff's custody. (Docs. 53, 56.) To date, Plaintiff has not provided the Court with a current mailing address, and the Court is thus unable to communicate its orders to Plaintiff. To the extent Plaintiff persists in failing to notify the Court regarding his whereabouts, this action may ultimately be subject to dismissal for failure to prosecute. However, because Plaintiff had previously demonstrated diligence in communicating with the Court, we do not find that this action should be dismissed at this time. However, because Plaintiff has not filed a brief in support of two of the motions to compel, and we find that these motions have now been withdrawn, and they will be denied without prejudice.


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. Accordingly, as part of his discovery requests, Plaintiff 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.

Although Defendant Berdanier provided some information in response, Defendants resisted responding fully to some of the requests, arguing either that the discovery was irrelevant, sought information about an individual who has not properly been made a party to this action, or otherwise sought evidence that would be inadmissible at trial. (Doc. 50.)

In the pending motion, Plaintiff seeks to compel further responses to the following interrogatories:

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 ...

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