NIBLACK v. MIGLIO et al
LETTER OPINION-ORDER: Plaintiff's request for leave to file a motion to compel is denied without prejudice; Defendant Ralph and Solaniks request that the Court accept written deposition responses in lieu of interrogatory responses is denied without prejudice; Fact Discovery due by 8/31/2017, etc. Signed by Magistrate Judge Steven C. Mannion on 04/28/2017. (ek)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
Martin Luther King Jr, Federal Bldg.
& U.S. Courthouse
50 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07102
STEVEN C. MANNION
United States Magistrate Judge
April 28, 2017
Niblack v. Miglio, et al., D.E. 47, 48
Civil Action No. 16-cv-747 (MCA)(SCM)
Before this Court is pro se Plaintiff Stanley L. Niblack’s (“Mr. Niblack”) request for leave
to compel discovery1 and Defendants DHO Christy Ralph (“Ms. Ralph”) and Alexander Solanik’s
(“Mr. Solanik”) request that the Court accept written deposition responses in lieu of interrogatory
responses. 2 The Court has reviewed the parties’ submissions and decides this issue without oral
argument. For the reasons set forth below, Mr. Niblack’s request for leave to compel discovery is
denied without prejudice 3 and Defendants Ralph and Solanik’s request that the Court accept
written deposition responses is also denied. 4
(ECF Docket Entry No. (“D.E.”) 47).
The Controlling Scheduling Order
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure must be construed by the Court and the parties to
secure “the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.” 5 A
Court’s pretrial order “controls the course of the action unless the court modifies it.” 6 The Court
maintains control over the schedule to expedite disposition of the action and to discourage wasteful
pretrial activities. 7 Discovery disputes are therefore handled informally as prescribed by the
The Court set forth the protocol for informally raising discovery disputes in its Initial
Scheduling Order which provided:
Counsel shall confer in a good faith attempt to informally resolve any and
all discovery disputes before seeking the Court’s intervention. Should
informal efforts fail to resolve the dispute, the matter shall be brought to the
Court’s attention via a joint letter that sets forth: (a) the specific discovery
requested; (b) the response; (c) efforts to resolve the dispute; (d) why the
complaining party believes the information is relevant and why the
responding party’s response continues to be deficient; including citations to
appropriate caselaw; and (e) why the responding party believe the response
is sufficient. 8
It further provided that “[f]ailure by any party to meet and confer in good faith, or to participate in
the joint-letter protocol described above, absent good cause, will result in the Court deeming that
party to have waived its right to take any position on the discovery issue(s) in dispute.” 9
Fed. R. Civ. P. 1.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(d).
Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(a).
(D.E.7, Scheduling Order at ¶ 5).
The Amended Scheduling Order reiterates the same. It provides:
2. No discovery motion or motion for sanctions for failure to provide
discovery shall be made without prior leave of Court. Should any informal
efforts fail, the dispute shall immediately be brought to the Magistrate
Judge’s attention via dispute letter(s) filed on ECF not to exceed 4 pages
that attaches or sets forth: (a) the request; (b) the response; (c) efforts to
resolve the dispute; (d) why the complaining party believes the information
is relevant and why the responding party’s response continues to be
deficient; and (e) why the responding party believe the response is
sufficient. Courtesy copies of exhibits should be mailed to chambers. If the
dispute is complex and requires the filing of briefs and affidavits, counsel
may separately file and mail same. No further submissions regarding the
dispute may be submitted without leave of Court. 10
Noncompliance with Discovery Dispute Protocol
Mr. Niblack has written numerous letters complaining of discovery deficiencies following
the Court’s March 8 Letter Order requiring Defendants Anna Miglio, James McDonnell, James
Hunsicker, Jonathon Henson, Ms. Ralph, and Mr. Solanik (hereinafter “State Defendants”) to
provide copies of their respective interrogatory responses within fourteen days. 11 Interrogatory
responses for Ms. Miglio, Mr. McDonnell, Mr. Hunsicker, and Mr. Henson, were provided by
letter dated January 6, 2017. 12 On March 7, 2017, Ms. Ralph, Mr. Solanik, and Mr. Henson
delivered responses to written deposition questions, and on March 10, 2017, Ms. Miglio, Mr.
McDonnell, and Mr. Hunsicker provided the same. 13 Ms. Ralph and Mr. Solanik deny receiving
interrogatory requests and ask that their deposition responses be accepted in lieu of interrogatory
(D.E. 45, Am. Scheduling Order at ¶ 2).
(D.E. 48-1, Ex. A, Defs.’ January 6 Responses).
(D.E. 48-2, Ex. B, Defs.’ March Responses).
responses. 14 Mr. Niblack objects. 15 In the same letter, he acknowledges receipt of the State
Defendants’ discovery responses filed with the Court. 16
After review of Mr. Niblack’s numerous letters complaining of discovery deficiencies, the
Court denies his request for leave to file a motion to compel without prejudice. Mr. Niblack failed
to abide by the Court’s discovery dispute protocol set forth in the Initial and Amended Scheduling
Orders. Instead, he wrote several letters complaining of untimely or non-existent responses to his
discovery requests. 17 For example, on March 13, 2017, Mr. Niblack wrote that although he served
the State Defendants with written deposition questions prior to January 31, 2017, he had not
received responses. 18 It appears that Mr. Niblack mailed his March 13 letter to the Court at the
same time the State Defendants delivered their responses to him. 19
In the same letter, Mr. Niblack complained that he had not received answers to
interrogatories “for over 5 or 6 months” from “Defendants Christy Ralph, Anna Miglio, James
McDonnell, James Hunsicker, Jonathon Henson, and Alexander Solanik.” 20 These letters lack
proof of service and copies of the interrogatory demands purportedly served upon the State
Mr. Niblack’s most recent correspondence complains about the insufficiency of interrogatory
and written deposition responses. These issues are not ripe for resolution and will not be addressed
here. Mr. Niblack must follow the discovery dispute protocol prior to seeking the Court’s
(See D.E. 47, 49, 50, 51).
(See D.E. 48-1, Ex. B, Defs.’ March Responses).
Defendants which is critical for two reasons. First, Ms. Ralph and Mr. Solanik deny receiving the
requests. Second, without such documentation the Court is hindered from securing “the just,
speedy, and inexpensive determination” of the pending dispute. 21 Due to Mr. Niblack’s failure to
follow the Amended Scheduling Order, the Court remained unaware of the outstanding discovery
requests until the State Defendants were ordered to file copies of their responses on the docket.
The Court is mindful of the delays associated with Mr. Niblack’s inability to electronically file
documents and receive notifications; however, any delay in obtaining relief falls upon him and
would not be alleviated by the ability to file formal discovery motions. 22 Mr. Niblack is to follow
the protocol set forth in Paragraph 2 of the Amended Scheduling Order, and his request for leave
to file a motion to compel will be denied at this time. 23
Ms. Ralph and Mr. Solanik’s request that the Court accept their written deposition
responses in lieu of interrogatory responses is also denied. Mr. Niblack’s most recent letter states
that he will provide the Court with copies of the interrogatories served on Ms. Ralph and Mr.
Solanik. 24 To the extent that Mr. Niblack’s pro se status allows, the parties shall meet and confer
regarding this issue. If the dispute is complex, the State Defendants may file separate briefs and
affidavits. No further submissions regarding this dispute shall be submitted without leave of
Fed. R. Civ. P. 1.
(See D.E. 51).
Mr. Niblack shall also follow ¶ 2 of the Amended Scheduling Order with regard to his complaints
about a lack of responses to document demands and requests for admissions.
(D.E. 51, Niblack March 24, 2017 Letter).
(D.E. 45, Am. Scheduling Order at ¶ 2).
An appropriate Order follows:
IT IS on this Friday, April 28, 2017,
1. ORDERED, that Plaintiff Niblack’s request for leave to file a motion to compel is denied
without prejudice; and it is further
2. ORDERED, that Defendant Ralph and Solanik’s request that the Court accept written
deposition responses in lieu of interrogatory responses is denied without prejudice;
3. ORDERED, that the fact end date is extended to August 31, 2017; and it is further
4. ORDERED, that the Clerk of the Court shall provide a copy of this Order to Plaintiff Niblack.
4/28/2017 8:26:00 AM
Original: Clerk of the Court
Hon. Madeline Cox Arleo, U.S.D.J.
cc: All parties
Stanley L. Niblack, #923038A/769213
Albert M. “Bo” Robinson House (H-12B)
377 Enterprise Avenue
Trenton, New Jersey 08638
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