Coleman v. Washington et al
ORDER Denying without Prejudice 32 Motion to Compel and Denying Plaintiff's 23 Motion for Default Judgment; Granting Defendant's 26 Motion to Stay Discovery and Denying Plaintiff's Request for Copies 35 --Signed by Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti. (MWil)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:18-cv-13171
District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow
Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT
AS TO DEFENDANT ROMANOWSKI (ECF 23), GRANTING
DEFENDANT ROMANOWSKI’S MOTION TO STAY DISCOVERY (ECF
26), DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO
COMPEL DISCOVERY (ECF 32), and DENYING PLAINTIFF’S
REQUESTS FOR COPIES (ECF 35)
At this time, Romanowski is the only active Defendant.
Deon Coleman was paroled from the Michigan Department of Corrections
(MDOC) on April 25, 2019 and has since updated his address with the Court.1 Mr.
Coleman’s instant lawsuit, which was initiated on October 11, 2018, began with
(See www.michigan.gov/corrections, “Offender Search” (last visited Oct. 4,
2019); DE 35.)
seven (7) Defendants and concerns events that allegedly occurred at the MDOC’s
Detroit Reentry Center (DRC). (ECF 1.)
Plaintiff is proceeding in forma pauperis. The Court has summarily
dismissed six (6) defendants and denied the related motion for reconsideration.
(ECFs 8, 12, 14.) Thus, Romanowski is currently the only active Defendant.2
Romanowski has appeared and is represented by counsel.
The U.S. Marshal Service attempted service upon Romanowski by mail,
and, in April 2019, Romanowski returned an executed waiver of the service of
summons. (ECFs 10, 16.) On May 8, 2019, I entered an order requiring
Michigan’s Department of Attorney General to inform the Court whether it intends
to represent Defendant Romanowski and directing the Clerk of this Court to serve
a copy of this order upon Michigan’s Department of Attorney General. (ECF 19.)
On May 16, 2019, Michigan’s Attorney General entered an appearance on
behalf of Defendant Romanowski, as well as a jury demand and a motion for
enlargement of time in which to file a responsive pleading. (ECFs 20, 21, 22.) On
May 31, 2019, I entered an order setting deadlines, including an October 18, 2019
On April 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed what is titled a “supplement amended
complaint,” which the Court interprets as a first amended complaint and which
names six (6) Defendants, including Defendant Romanowski. (ECF 15.) The
Court will address this complaint, as well as Plaintiff’s pending motion for the
appointment of counsel (ECF 17), under separate cover.
discovery deadline, and deeming moot Defendant Romanowski’s motion for
enlargement of time. (ECF 24.) Defendant Romanowski timely filed a responsive
filing (ECF 25), which will be addressed under separate cover.
Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment (ECF 23) is denied.
Judge Tarnow has referred this case to me for pretrial matters. Among the
motions currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff’s May 30, 2019 motion for
default judgment as to Defendant Romanowski. (ECF 23.) The motion is one
page in length but accompanied by six attachments, for each of which Plaintiff’s
motion provides some type of explanation.
Considering that Romanowski is the only active defendant at this point, by
Plaintiff’s motion’s title, and by the complaints therein that Romanowski is
disobeying the Court’s orders, the Undersigned interprets this motion as based on
Fed. R. Civ. P. 55 (“Default; Default Judgment”) and denies the motion. Absent
some indication that the Court had earlier acquired jurisdiction over Romanowski,
he could only have disobeyed an order that was filed once he waived the service of
summons in April 2019. To the extent Plaintiff’s May 30, 2019 motion for default
judgment contends that Romanowski did not respond to the complaint in
accordance with the April 2019 executed waiver of the service of summons (ECF
16), Romanowski had already filed a May 16, 2019 motion for extension (ECF
22), which the Court deemed moot in its May 31, 2019 order setting deadlines
(ECF 24). As such, Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment (ECF 23) is DENIED.
Defendant Romanowski’s motion to stay discovery (ECF 26) is
granted, and Plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery (ECF 32) is
denied without prejudice.
Defendant Romanowski’s July 10, 2019 responsive pleading is a Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56 motion for summary judgment, which argues that Plaintiff has not
exhausted his administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). (ECF
25 at 4, 10.) On or about July 22, 2019, Plaintiff served a First Set of
Interrogatories (Nos. 1-25), presumably directed to Romanowski. (ECF 26-2 at 25.)3 In a subsequently filed motion, Romanowski argues that the Court should stay
discovery until it rules on his motion for summary judgment, because “[f]ailure to
exhaust is [a] threshold issue that must be decided before granting discovery on
any substantive claim in this case.” (ECF 26 at 6, 9-10.)
On August 27, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery. (ECF
32.) Although the motion purports to be based on Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f) (“Judgment
Independent of the Motion.”), it appears Plaintiff intended to bring his motion
pursuant to another subsection of Rule 56, namely: “If a nonmovant shows by
Plaintiff appears to have concurrently served discovery requests to Angela
Fortescue, who, as discussed above, was dismissed from this lawsuit on February
19, 2019 and is, thus, not required to respond, absent a valid and properly served
subpoena. (ECF 26-2 at 6-8.)
affidavit or declaration that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential
to justify its opposition, the court may: (1) defer considering the motion or deny it;
(2) allow time to obtain affidavits or declarations or to take discovery; or (3) issue
any other appropriate order.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) (“When Facts Are Unavailable
to the Nonmovant.”).4
Upon consideration, Defendant Romanowski’s August 5, 2019 motion to
stay discovery (ECF 26) is GRANTED, and Plaintiff’s August 27, 2019 motion to
compel discovery (ECF 32) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiff
makes his motion under penalty of perjury, and he correctly notes that the Court’s
order setting deadlines provides that “[d]iscovery may proceed and must be
completed on or before Friday, October 18, 2019.” (ECF 24 at 2, ECF 32 ¶ 4.)
However, contrary to Plaintiff’s characterizations, the Court does not view
Defendant’s motion to stay as having been filed due to the illegibility of Plaintiff’s
discovery requests, nor does the Court view Defendant Romanowski’s motion to
stay as a “stall tactic.” (ECF 32 ¶¶ 2, 5.)5 Instead, the Court views the motion as
requesting “an order to protect a party or person from . . . undue burden or
expense . . . .” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1). See, e.g., Clardy v. Gilmore, 773 F. App'x
This apparent mistake is understandable, as the current version of Rule 56(d) was
formerly housed under Subsection (f).
Plaintiff’s motion also mentions requests served on August 7, 2019 (ECF 32 at
1), which the Court assumes were duplicated service of more legible requests.
958, 959 (9th Cir. July 22, 2019) (“Defendants reasonably sought
to stay discovery under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c) because it would be
an unnecessary burden and expense before threshold, dispositive issues,
including exhaustion, were resolved.”). Moreover, Plaintiff’s single-page motion
to compel does not explain how his 25 discovery requests to Defendant
Romanowski will provide “facts essential to justify [Plaintiff’s] opposition . . .” to
the pending exhaustion-based motion for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(d). In the event Plaintiff’s claims against Defendant Romanowski survive the
pending exhaustion-based motion, then Plaintiff may renew his discovery requests
Plaintiff’s August 30, 2019 requests for copies (ECF 35) are
In his August 30, 2019 notice of change of address/contact information,
Plaintiff requests copies of: (1) a report and recommendation in Coleman v.
Gullet, et al., Case No. 4:12-cv-10099-MAG-LJM (E.D. Mich.); and, (2) an
updated docket sheet in this case. These requests (ECF 35) are DENIED.
Preliminarily, there are several reports and recommendations in Case No. 1210099 (ECFs 17, 41, 52, 99, 100, 102, 134, 135). Perhaps more importantly, if
Plaintiff wishes to obtain a copy of a matter on the docket, he may do so through
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). See
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: May 8, 2019
s/Anthony P. Patti
Anthony P. Patti
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Certificate of Service
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was sent to parties of record
on October 8, 2019, electronically and/or by U.S. Mail.
Case Manager for the
Honorable Anthony P. Patti
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