Taylor v. Miller et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylors Motion for Sanctions # 29 is DENIED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylors Motion to Appoint Counsel # 30 is DENIED without prejudice. Signed by District Judge Rodney W. Sippel on 8/10/16. (CAR)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
SAMUEL LEWIS TAYLOR,
MICHAEL MILLER, et al.,
Case No. 4:15 CV 285 RWS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Pro se plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylor has filed a motion for sanctions
and a motion to appoint counsel. I will deny both motions.
Taylor, an inmate at the Crossroads Correctional Center, brings First
Amendment retaliation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Taylor was previously
incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center and sues five Potosi employees:
Michael Miller, Jason Crawford, Dorine Johnson, Carl Gravett, and Stanley
Pruett. Defendants moved for summary judgment; that motion is pending.
Taylor filed a response in opposition to the motion for summary judgment
along with a statement of controverted material facts and multiple exhibits. On
the same day, he filed these motions for sanctions and appointment of counsel.
Taylor argues Defendants should be sanctioned under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11 because they have submitted “deceptive documents” to this
Court, namely, Defendant Crawford’s responses to Taylor’s interrogatories.1
Taylor complains Crawford deceived this Court by responding “[n]one that I
am aware of” to a question asking whether any other prisoners had filed
grievances or other complaints about him damaging their property. Taylor
asserts this is false because Crawford was sued by another inmate for claims
similar to his. See Doc. 27, at 18, and Doc. 29, at 3.2
Courts may impose sanctions for violations of Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11, which states that “[b]y presenting to the court a pleading, written
motion, or other paper,” an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the
best of the person’s knowledge, the information and arguments in the document
are not presented for any improper purpose, are warranted or nonfrivolous, and
have or will likely have evidentiary support. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(b)‒(c).
Rule 11 does not apply to the signing of discovery responses, including answers
to interrogatories. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(d) and 26(g) advisory committee’s
note (1983 amend.). Even if I liberally construe Taylor’s motion as a motion
for sanctions under Rules 26(g) or 37, Taylor’s disagreement in this case with
Taylor also indicates he disagrees with the veracity of a statement Crawford may have made in
an interrogatory in a state court lawsuit, which is not relevant to the question of sanctions here.
Though his motion does not clearly explain this point, Taylor noted in the motion that he would
“point out in plaintiff’s affidavit to support summary judgment” what he perceived to be the
“Defendants’ intentional deceptiveness.” See Doc. 29, at 1.
Crawford’s answer to one interrogatory question does not warrant sanctions
under either rule.
Taylor also moves for appointment of counsel, arguing Defendants’
“deceptiveness” and the complexity of the issues in the case warrant it. There is
no constitutional or statutory right to appointed counsel in civil cases. See
Phillips v. Jasper Cnty. Jail, 437 F.3d 791, 794 (8th Cir. 2006). In determining
whether to appoint counsel, courts consider several factors, such as the factual
and legal complexity of the case, the ability of the plaintiff to investigate the
facts and present his claim, and the existence of conflicting testimony. See id.
After considering these factors, I find appointment of counsel is not warranted
at this time.
Taylor has not made any showing of Defendants’ alleged
deceptiveness. The progression of the litigation so far indicates Taylor can
investigate and present his claims. Taylor expresses concern about his ability to
attend conferences or present evidence and cross-examine witnesses at trial. I
will deny the motion without prejudice to Taylor renewing the motion if the
case is set for trial or the circumstances otherwise warrant it.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylor’s
Motion for Sanctions # is DENIED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff Samuel Lewis Taylor’s
Motion to Appoint Counsel # is DENIED without prejudice.
RODNEY W. SIPPEL
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 10th day of August, 2016.
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