Griffin v. Hooks et al
ORDER that Pltf's 118 , 131 , 132 , 135 , and 136 MOTIONS are DENIED in accordance with terms of this Order. FURTHER ORDERED that Pltf's 134 MOTION to Substitute Party is GRANTED, and Clerk is instructed to s ubstitute Deft Reuben Young for Unknown Doe #12. FURTHER ORDERED that Pltf shall take further action to prosecute this case against Deft Bentley within 14 days of this Order. Failure to take any such further action shall result in dismissal of this D eft without prejudice. Clerk is respectfully instructed to provide a copy of this Order and Docket No. 134-2 at 2-3 to the U.S. Marshal for service of Summons and 13 Second Amended Complaint on Deft Young. Signed by Chief Judge Martin Reidinger on 9/06/2021. (Pro se litigant served by US Mail.) (ejb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
MATTHEW JAMES GRIFFIN,
ERIK A. HOOKS, et al.,
THIS MATTER is before the Court on the following motions by Plaintiff:
Fourth Motion for Sanctions Under Rule 37(b) and (d) [Doc. 118];
First Motion for a 90 Day Extension of Time Within Which to
Complete Discovery and file Dispositive Motions [Doc. 131];
Supplemental Motion for a 90 Day Extension of Time Within
Which to Complete Discovery [Doc. 132];
Motion to Substitute the Honorable Reuben Young for Unknown
Doe #12 [Doc. 134];
Motion to Take Depositions and Set the Conditions Upon Which
Depositions Are Conducted at the Prison [Doc. 135]; and
Motion to Set the Conditions Upon Which Depositions Are
Conducted at the Prison [Doc. 136].
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 1 of 9
Also before the Court are Defendant Hooks’ Response to the Court’s
July 28, 2021 Show Cause Order and the Plaintiff’s Reply to this Response.
[Docs. 122, 133].
For the sake of judicial economy, the Court herein
incorporates its Orders at Docket Nos. 77, 80, 91, 116, and 121 in this matter.
As to Plaintiff’s Fourth Motion for Sanctions, it is denied. The Court
has reviewed Defendant Hooks’ response to the Court’s show cause order
on this issue, as well as Plaintiff’s reply, and is satisfied that sanctions are
not warranted at this time.
Plaintiff moves to substitute “the Honorable Reuben Young,” who
Plaintiff recently identified as the Deputy Secretary of the North Carolina
Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), for Unknown Doe #12. [Doc. 134].
The Court will grant Plaintiff’s motion to substitute and direct the Clerk to
begin the service process on Defendant Young.
The Pretrial Order and Case Management Plan in this case was
entered on March 25, 2020. [Doc. 53]. It allows each party to propound no
more than 20 interrogatories and no more than 20 requests for admission
and take no more than 6 depositions of non-expert witnesses. [Id. at 2]. On
June 29, 2020, Plaintiff moved for permission to serve 40 interrogatories on
each named Defendant. As grounds, Plaintiff stated that he “is a prisoner
confined in New Mexico and lacks the financial means to pay for a court
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 2 of 9
reporter to take depositions of the named Defendants in this civil action.
[Doc. 61 at 1]. Plaintiff also asserted that because he is confined in prison,
the increased use of interrogatories is a cost-effective method of discovery.
[Id. at 2].
The Court granted Plaintiff’s motion and allowed Plaintiff to
propound a total of 40 interrogatories, inclusive of subparts in accordance
with the PTOCMP in this case. [Doc. 66 at 4-5]. The PTOCMP set the
discovery deadline as July 23, 2020 and the dispositive motions deadline as
August 22, 2020. [Doc. 53 at 1]. After a 60-day extension on Plaintiff’s
motion [Doc. 57] and after having been stayed from March to June 2021
[Docs. 91, 116], the current deadline to complete discovery in this matter is
September 8, 2021 and the dispositive motions deadline is October 8, 2021.
[Doc. 116]. Most recently, the Court admonished the parties “to avoid all
unnecessary delay and other barriers in responding to discovery and
readying this case for the filing of dispositive motions. [Doc. 116 at 8]. The
Court further cautioned the parties that “any motions to extend these
deadlines will be highly disfavored and only granted in the event of
extraordinary circumstances.” [Id. (emphasis in original)].
Plaintiff now moves for a 90-day extension of these deadlines. [Docs.
131, 132]. As grounds, Plaintiff states that he served discovery requests on
Defendants Hooks, Lassiter, and Couch on August 4, 2021 and that Plaintiff
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 3 of 9
anticipates that Defendants will not timely serve their responses to these
requests “given Defendants history of delay.” [Doc. 131 at 3]. Plaintiff also
argues that Defendants’ past failures to comply with Court orders and dilatory
conduct “prevents plaintiff from engaging in discovery against the Unknown
[Id. at 4].
In Plaintiff’s contemporaneously filed
supplemental motion for an extension of these deadlines, Plaintiff argues
that he needs additional time because Defendants Joyner, Bryan, and
Daves1 have only recently filed their Answer to Plaintiff’s Complaint on July
29, 2021, and because Plaintiff has not had the opportunity to engage in
discovery with newly identified Defendant Young. [Doc. 132 at 1, 3, 5].
Plaintiff’s motions will be denied. As admonished, the Court will not
extraordinary circumstances. Plaintiff’s prediction that Defendants will fail to
timely respond to discovery is not an extraordinary circumstance. Moreover,
the Court has allowed Plaintiff many extensions to identify and serve the Doe
Defendants in this matter, [Docs. 66, 77, 91, 116, 121; 5/5/2021 Text Order],
When Defendants Bryan, Daves, and Joyner were substituted for Unknown Does #2, 4,
and 11, Defendant Leslie Bentley was substituted for Unknown Doe #3. [See Doc. 98].
Waivers of service were obtained for Defendants Bryan and Daves. [Docs. 99, 112].
Defendants Bentley and Joyner were served with summons and complaint and their
answers were due on July 15, 2021 and July 19, 2021, respectively. [Docs. 124, 125].
Defendants Joyner, Bryan, and Daves filed an answer, [Doc. 123], but Defendant Bentley
has not. The Court, therefore, will order Plaintiff to take further action to prosecute this
action against Defendant Bentley.
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 4 of 9
and recently ordered Defendant Hooks to respond to Plaintiff’s discovery
requests to allow Plaintiff to identify the remaining Doe Defendants in
sufficient time before the conclusion of discovery,2 [Doc. 121].
claims he needs more time because Defendants Bryan, Daves, and Joyner’s
only recently answered Plaintiff’s Complaint and because Plaintiff has not
had the opportunity to engage Defendant Young in discovery. A review of
the pleadings in this matter shows that the issues relevant to these
Defendants are shared with those of other Defendants that have been known
since the inception of this action. Moreover, Plaintiff recently filed several
Certificates of Service reflecting service of certain new discovery requests
on Defendants Hooks, Couch, and Lassiter. [Doc. 126-129]. The identity of
these Defendants has been known to Plaintiff since the inception of this
lawsuit. As far as the Court is aware, however, Plaintiff has not served
discovery on Defendants Bryan, Daves, or Joyner, despite their having
answered Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint before Plaintiff served
these new discovery requests on Hooks, Couch, and Lassiter. As such, if
Moreover, the parties were specifically advised that, “[b]ecause any additional Doe
Defendants that may be identified and named by Plaintiff will also very likely be
represented by the same counsel representing the current named Defendants and
because the issues with any newly identified Defendants would be the same as at least
some of the current Defendants, the discovery deadline will be relatively short.” [Doc.
116 at 8].
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 5 of 9
Plaintiff needed to engage Defendants Bryan, Daves, and Joyner in
discovery he would and should have done so before now, especially given
the Court’s admonitions to the parties. As to Defendant Young, there are no
unique allegations against him. Rather, the Plaintiff’s allegations against
Young, as Unknown Doe #12, are identical to those against Defendant
Joyner and overlap in many respects with the allegations against Defendants
Hooks, Guice, Lassiter, Beaver, Dye, Beaver, Couch, Wallace, Hamilton,
and Clifton, who were identified in Plaintiff’s original Complaint. [See Docs.
1, 13]. Finally, Defendants’ Answers have been nearly identical, and all have
denied the material allegations of Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint.
[See Docs. 49 (Answer of Defendants Hooks, Couch, Guice, Lassiter,
Beaver, Clawson, Quinn, Dye and Wallace), 105 (Answer of Defendant
Caldwell), and 123 (Answer of Defendants Joyner, Bryan and Daves)]. As
such, there is no reason to believe Defendant Young’s will be any different,
especially given that there are no unique allegations against him.
Accordingly, the totality of the circumstances here, including the history of
this litigation, do not warrant additional time to conduct discovery or to file
Finally, Plaintiff files two substantially similar motions regarding the
conduct of depositions in this case. [Docs. 135, 136]. In the first, Plaintiff
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 6 of 9
asks the Court for an Order allowing Plaintiff “to take depositions of each of
the named Defendants” and “setting the conditions under which the
depositions will be taken” at his place of incarceration. [Doc. 135 at 1]. The
motion sets forth an overly exhaustive and unnecessary list of deposition
conditions. [See id. at 2-4]. In the second motion, filed contemporaneously
with the first, Plaintiff again moves for an Order “setting the conditions upon
which depositions may be conducted at the prison in this civil action.” [Doc.
136 at 1]. This motion sets forth another laundry list of deposition conditions,
mostly duplicative of the first motion, and asks that depositions only “be taken
on no less that fourteen (14) days notice.” [Id. at 3]. Attached to these
motions is Plaintiff’s August 6, 2021 “meet and confer” correspondence to
defense counsel requesting consent to the deposition conditions set forth in
the first motion. These depositions motions are dated August 9, 2021 and
were filed on August 25, 2021.3
The Court will deny these motions for several reasons.
allowing Plaintiff to serve up to 40 interrogatories on each Defendant, the
Court relied on Plaintiff’s claim that additional interrogatories were needed
because Plaintiff, who is incarcerated in New Mexico, could not conduct
As such, there is no conceivable way defense counsel could have received and
responded to Plaintiff’s August 6, 2021 “meet and confer” letter before Plaintiff prepared
these deposition motions.
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 7 of 9
depositions in this case. Second, the PTOCMP has been entered in this
case since March of 2020. If Plaintiff intended to take depositions, he should
not have waited until the eve of the close of a very protracted discovery
period to begin that process. Third, Plaintiff asks to take the depositions of
all fifteen parties in this case yet has not sought leave to take more than the
maximum six depositions set in the PTOCMP. Fourth, Plaintiff asks that
fourteen days’ notice be required to take a deposition yet failed to file these
deposition motions until the end of the extended discovery period. Finally,
Plaintiff’s “meet and confer” letter fails to satisfy Rule 37(a)(1) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff asked defense counsel to consent to a
long list of deposition conditions and then, without even allowing defense
counsel sufficient time to respond, filed motions with the Court asking for
orders setting these deposition conditions and allowing Plaintiff to depose all
Defendants in this action. Plaintiff, however, never sought to notice the
deposition of any Defendant in this case and has not shown that Defendants
or defense counsel failed to engage in the requested discovery. As such,
the Court exercises its discretion to deny Plaintiff’s deposition motions.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motions [Docs. 118,
131, 132, 135, 136] are DENIED in accordance with the terms of this Order.
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 8 of 9
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion to substitute [Doc.
134] is GRANTED. The Clerk is instructed to substitute Defendant Reuben
Young for Unknown Doe #12.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff shall take further action to
prosecute this case against Defendant Bentley within fourteen (14) days of
this Order. Failure to take any such further action shall result in the dismissal
of this Defendant without prejudice.
The Clerk is respectfully instructed to provide a copy of this Order and
Docket No. 134-2 at 2-3 to the U.S. Marshal for service of Summons and
Second Amended Complaint [Doc. 13] on Defendant Young.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Signed: September 6, 2021
Case 3:19-cv-00135-MR Document 137 Filed 09/07/21 Page 9 of 9
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?