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Carter v. Caraway

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division

September 19, 2017

EMMANUEL CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARLENE CARAWAY, et al. Defendants.

          SUMMARY JUDGMENT OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, proceeding pro se and presently civilly committed at Rushville Treatment and Detention Center, brought the present lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The matter comes before this Court for ruling on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 54). The motion is granted.

         PRELIMINARY MATTERS

         Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 58)

         Plaintiff's motion appears to request a court order directing Defendants to provide Plaintiff with a copy of his deposition. The Court previously advised Plaintiff that he is not entitled to a free copy of his deposition. See (Doc. 22 at 9, ¶ 21). At any rate, Plaintiff filed this motion after Defendants Scott, Hankins, Biermann, Heller, Lay, Orrill, and Pennock filed their motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's deposition transcript was attached to that motion, and Plaintiff should now have a copy.

         To the extent that Plaintiff is alleging the Defendants have failed to provide him a copy of the transcript for his review, Plaintiff waived his signature at the conclusion of the deposition. Pl.'s Dep. 110:5-10. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

         Defendants' Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 59)

         Defendants Caraway, Reid, and Simpson filed a Motion for Sanctions (Doc. 59) seeking dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for failure to comply with the Court's discovery orders. Plaintiff has not responded to the motion or requested additional time to do so.

         Defendants sent interrogatories and requests to produce documents to Plaintiff on February 22, 2016. (Doc. 33-1). Plaintiff attempted to send responses to these discovery requests to the Court in violation of the Court's Scheduling Order and local rule. See (Doc. 22 at 8, ¶ 18) (“Discovery requests and responses are not filed with the court. Plaintiff must mail his discovery requests directly to Defendants' counsel and not file the requests with the Court or the Clerk.”); CDIL L.R. 26.3(A) (stating same). The clerk entered a remark on the docket indicating that these responses would not be filed with the Court. See Remark entered May 2, 2016.

         The Court denied Defendants' first motion to compel responses to these discovery requests given that Plaintiff had attempted to send the responses to the Court. See (Doc. 35 at 3, ¶ 5). The Court granted Defendants leave to renew their motion to compel if the responses were not received within 30 days of that Order. Id.

         Defendants' renewed their motion to compel on August 19, 2016. (Doc. 39). The Court granted the motion and directed Plaintiff to send his discovery responses to the Defendants within 30 days. See Text Order entered September 22, 2016. Plaintiff again failed to send his responses, and Defendants filed a motion for sanctions.

         In their Motion for Sanctions, Defendants sought dismissal of Plaintiff's claims for failure to comply with the Court's discovery orders. (Doc. 48). The Court granted the motion, but denied the request for dismissal. Instead, the Court stayed the discovery deadlines pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(iv) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure until Plaintiff complied with the Court's previous orders. See (Doc. 57 at 3). Plaintiff was directed to tender his discovery responses within 30 days. Id. The Court specifically warned Plaintiff that if he “fails to comply with this Order, the Court will construe his failure to do so as willful, ” and that the Court would consider dismissal of his claims as a sanction if requested in a properly raised motion. Id.

         Plaintiff does not dispute Defendants' assertions that he has failed to tender the relevant discovery responses. The Court previously admonished Plaintiff that it would construe his failure to comply as willful, and the Court has given Plaintiff several opportunities over more than one year to send his discovery responses.

         Given Plaintiff's willful failure to comply with the Court's discovery orders, the Court finds that dismissal is an appropriate sanction. See Ramirez v. T&H Lemont, Inc., 845 F.3d 772, 776 (7th Cir. 2016) (Before imposing dismissal as a sanction for discovery violations, the Court must “find that the responsible party acted or failed to act with a degree of culpability that exceeds simple inadvertence or mistake….”); McInnis v. Duncan, 697 F.3d 661, 665 (7th Cir. 2012) (“[E]ven those who are pro se must follow court rules and directives.”); see also De Falco v. Oak Lawn Pub. Library, 25 Fed.Appx. 455, 457-58 (7th Cir. 2001) (“[P]ro se litigants do not enjoy unbridled license to disregard clearly communicated court orders and are not entitled to a general dispensation from the rules ...


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