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Dawn Ball v. Lt. Bower

December 15, 2011

DAWN BALL,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
LT. BOWER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

(Chief Judge Kane)

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

This case is a civil rights action filed by Dawn Ball, a state prisoner. Ball's pro se civil rights complaint, which was filed on December 17, 2010, provides a paradigm of the problems which seem to plague this inmate. (Doc. 1) According to Ball's complaint, these civil rights violations arose out of an extremely brief period of incarceration in the Lycoming County Jail on December 10, 2010. (Id.) This period of imprisonment was exceedingly brief, as Ball acknowledges: "I was only there for maybe 3 or 4 hours, tops." (Id.) Yet, in that short span of time Ball managed to: (1) become embroiled in a "belligerent" exchange with an unidentified male correctional officer who was inspecting her personal property; (2) indulge in a "nasty" discussion with an unidentified female correction officer; (3) become sufficiently disruptive that two other correctional staff, Lt. Bower, and Correctional Officer Rogers, were compelled to transfer her to the Special Management Unit at this county jail; (4) engage in an exchange of curses with these transporting officers; (5) become involved in a physical altercation in which Ball alleges that she was struck by the officers; and (6) find herself placed in a special management unit cell, where she alleged she was confined, naked, for approximately one hour. (Id.) On December 17, 2010, Ball filed this pro se lawsuit, which recited this remarkable turn of events at the county prison and named six defendants: the Lycoming County jail, the warden, Lt. Bower, Correctional Officer Rogers, and the two unidentified correctional officers as John and Jane Doe defendants. (Id.) In her complaint, Ball acknowledged that she never endeavored to exhaust her administrative grievance remedies at the county jail before proceeding into federal court, explaining that she was only "at this county for 3 to 4 hours". (Id.) Ball then demanded wide ranging relief from the defendants in the form of compensatory and punitive damages, along with declaratory relief. (Id.)

On October 13, 2011, this Court recommended that Ball's complaint be dismissed. (Doc. 31) That recommendation remains pending before the district court.

Also pending before the Court is a motion by the plaintiff to stay her discovery responses pending the resolution of this potentially dispositive report and recommendation. (Docs. 40 and 41) For the reasons set forth below, Ball's motion will be GRANTED.

II. Discussion

A. Guiding Principles Governing Discovery Motions Practice

Several basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery, and provides that:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery

(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. . . .

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).

The scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule 37 is defined, in turn, by Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides as follows:

(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense -- including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery ...


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