Watson v. Charleston, City of, MO et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Issuance of Subpoena (Doc. 26) is denied as moot. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 30) is denied without prejudice.IT IS FURTHER O RDERED that Plaintiff shall provide Defendant with his initialdisclosures as directed above in this Order no later than 14 days from the date of this Order, which is October 31, 2016. Failure to comply with this Order will result in the imposition of sanctions under Rule 37(b), including dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint. Signed by Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni on 10/17/2016. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ROBERT FREDERICK WATSON,
Case No. 1:16 CV 21 ACL
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Robert Frederick Watson filed the instant action seeking monetary damages for
alleged constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ' 1983 that he claims occurred during the
booking process at the Mississippi County Jail.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.
Presently pending before the Court is
(Doc. 32.) Also pending are the following motions filed by
Watson: Motion for Issuance of Subpoena (Doc. 26) and Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 30).
The Court will address the pending motions in turn, beginning with Watson’s motions.
Motion for Issuance of Subpoena
In his Motion for Issuance of Subpoena, Watson requests video footage of the incident
that occurred in the Mississippi Detention Center on December 24, 2015.
A subsequent filing, however, reveals that Respondent provided the requested video to
Watson. (Doc. 33-1.) Thus, Watson’s Motion will be denied as moot.
Motion to Appoint Counsel
The appointment of counsel in a civil case is governed by 28 U.S.C. ' 1915 (d). It is
within the district court’s sound discretion whether to appoint counsel for those who cannot pay
for an attorney under this provision. See In re Lane, 801 F.2d 1040, 1044 (8th Cir. 1986).
In determining whether a person who is indigent should be appointed counsel, the court
should ascertain “whether the nature of the litigation is such that plaintiff as well as the court will
benefit from the assistance of counsel.” Nelson v. Redfield Lithograph Printing, 728 F.2d 1003,
1005 (8th Cir. 1984). In addition, the court should consider the factual complexity, the plaintiff=s
ability to investigate facts, the existence of conflicting testimony, the plaintiff=s ability to present
her claim, and the complexity of the legal issues. See Johnson v. Williams, 788 F.2d 1319, 132223 (8th Cir. 1986); Abdullah v. Gunter, 949 F.2d 1032, 1035 (8th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 504
U.S. 930, 112 S. Ct. 1995, 118 L.Ed.2d 591 (1992).
After consideration of the above factors, the undersigned concludes that it is not
necessary that counsel be appointed for Watson at this point in the litigation. The undersigned
finds that Watson has clearly presented his claims against Defendant, and that it does not appear
that “plaintiff as well as the court will benefit from the assistance of counsel.” Thus, Watson’s
motion for appointment of counsel will be denied without prejudice. “Without prejudice” means
that Watson may later ask for appointment of counsel if he feels it is necessary.
Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss
Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss this Action With Prejudice for Plaintiff’s
Violations of Court Orders. (Doc. 32.) Defendant notes that the Court granted Defendant’s
Motion to Compel in an Order dated August 26, 2016, and directed Watson to provide Defendant
with his initial disclosures no later than September 6, 2016. (Doc. 31.) The Court also cautioned
Watson that failure to comply with the Order may result in sanctions under Rule 37(b), including
dismissal of Watson’s Complaint.
Defendant states that Watson has not provided Defendant with “all documents that
plaintiff believes mention, relate to, or in any way support plaintiff’s claim” as directed by the
Case Management Order. (Doc. 19) Defendant states that Watson also has not provided
Defendant with “a list, including address, of all persons having knowledge or information of the
facts giving rise to Plaintiff’s claim.” Id. Instead, Defendant indicates that Defendant’s counsel
received a letter from Watson on August 26, 2016, stating that the only “disclosures” that he
intends on using at trial is the video that was provided to him in Defendant’s initial disclosures.
(Doc. 33-1.) Defendant requests that the Court dismiss this action with prejudice as a sanction
for Watson’s violations of the Court’s Order to provide Defendant with Plaintiff’s initial
Watson’s pro se status does not excuse him from complying with the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and the court’s orders. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 934-35 n. 46
(1975) (pro se litigants must comply with relevant rules of procedure). A dismissal of an action
is “an extreme sanction and should be used only in cases of willful disobedience of a court order
or continued or persistent failure to prosecute a complaint.” Id. at 405 (quoting Givens v. A.H.
Robins Co., 751 F.2d 261, 263 (8th Cir. 1984)). “This does not mean that the district court must
find that the appellant acted in bad faith, but requires ‘only that he acted intentionally as opposed
to accidentally or involuntarily.’” Hunt v. City of Minneapolis, Minn., 203 F.3d 524, 527 (8th
In this case, the Court concludes that dismissing this action would be too extreme a
sanction at this time. Watson responded to Defendant’s discovery request by stating that the
“only disclosures I plan on using are the ones you provided me with which is the video that was
taken when I arrived in the sally port at the Mississippi County Jail.” (Doc. 33-1.) Watson
further states that he “signed the paper for you to release all my medical records to you regards
of this matter.” Id. Watson’s failure to provide initial disclosures appears to result from an
incorrect belief that he is only required to provide evidence that he intends to use at trial.
Watson will, therefore, be given one more opportunity to properly comply with the
Court’s Order. No later than October 31, 2016, Watson must provide Defendant with “all
documents that plaintiff believes mention, relate to, or in any way support plaintiff’s claim” and
“a list, including address, of all persons having knowledge or information of the facts giving rise
to Plaintiff’s claim.” Watson should provide these documents even if he does not intend to use
them at trial. Failure to comply with the Court’s Order will result in sanctions under Rule 37(b),
including the dismissal of Watson’s Complaint.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Issuance of Subpoena (Doc. 26)
is denied as moot.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Appoint Counsel (Doc. 30) is
denied without prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall provide Defendant with his initial
disclosures as directed above in this Order no later than 14 days from the date of this Order,
which is October 31, 2016. Failure to comply with this Order will result in the imposition of
sanctions under Rule 37(b), including dismissal of Plaintiff’s Complaint.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 17th day of October, 2016.
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