United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division
KAREN L. HAYES, Magistrate Judge.
Before the undersigned Magistrate Judge, on reference from the District Court, are two discovery-related motions: 1) motion for protective order [doc. # 20] filed by plaintiff William Benard Green; and 2) motion to compel, with an associated request for fees and expenses [doc. # 23] filed by defendants. For reasons assigned below, the motion for protective order is GRANTED, and the motion to compel is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
On February 22, 2013, William Benard Green filed the instant civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Ruston, Mayor Dan Hollingsworth, the city council (presumably for the City of Ruston), Chief Rogers (incorrectly named in the complaint, as "Rodgers"), the Ruston Police Department (named in the caption of the complaint), Justin Brown, Jacob R. Gaines, Larry Morris, and Edward Faile. Green alleges that on February 22, 2012, at a residence at 1326 Martin Loop, the defendant-officers "Tasered" him several times, beat him, threw him to the ground, and kicked him, all without cause. (Compl.). He further alleges that the defendant-entities had a policy, practice and custom of authorizing the foregoing actions. Id. As a result of defendants' conduct, Green suffered a fractured tooth; multiple abrasions; a displaced sinus cavity; bruises to his head, body, and extremities; severe problems with his neck, back, and shoulders; mental anguish; emotional distress; and constant nightmares. Id. Green seeks recovery for compensatory, general, special, punitive, and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees and expenses, for alleged constitutional violations protected under federal law, and for constitutional violations and intentional tort claims under state law. Id.
On December 10, 2013, the court stayed the case for a period of 90 days because of pending criminal proceedings against plaintiff arising out of the same facts that form the basis for this suit. See doc. #s 14-15. On March 10, 2014, the court extended the stay for another 90 days because plaintiff's criminal trial was set for trial in May 2014. See Minutes [doc. # 16]. The court cautioned, however, that no further extensions would be granted. Id. Following an August 7, 2014, status conference with the parties, the court set the matter for jury trial on July 27, 2015. (Aug. 7, 2014, Trial Fixing Order [doc. # 19]).
Less than two months later, however, plaintiff filed the instant motion for protective order to upset his deposition that defendants had noticed for October 14, 2014. In support of his motion, plaintiff represents that the parties set the deposition date while under the impression that plaintiff's criminal trial would be concluded by then. As it turns out, plaintiff's criminal trial was continued until February 23, 2015. Plaintiff argues that until his criminal trial is concluded, his deposition is useless because he will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against selfincrimination. Accordingly, he seeks an order quashing the deposition notice, and requiring the parties to re-set the deposition, upon agreement, but no earlier than the conclusion of plaintiff's criminal trial.
On October 28, 2014, defendants filed their opposition to plaintiff's motion. They contend that plaintiff's deposition is essential to determining the substance of plaintiff's allegations. In addition, any further delay would cloud the events that spawned the instant cause of action. Therefore, defendants urge the court to deny plaintiff's motion, compel his attendance at the deposition, and otherwise dismiss his case if he fails to appear. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.
On November 14, 2014, defendants filed the instant motion to compel answers to interrogatories and responses to requests for production that they first propounded to plaintiff on November 15, 2013. (M/Compel, Exh. A). Over the past year, defendants have made several unsuccessful attempts to coax plaintiff into responding to the discovery requests. (M/Compel, Exhs. B-D).
Plaintiff filed his opposition to the motion to compel on December 8, 2014. He again emphasizes that because of the pendency of criminal proceedings against him, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination if required to respond to the written discovery. Thus, granting the motion to compel would be tantamount to compelling him to incriminate himself.
Defendants did not seek leave to file a reply brief, and the time to do so has lapsed. See Notice of Motion Setting [doc. # 24]. Thus, the matter is ripe.
Standard of Review
a) Motion to Compel
Rule 33 provides that a party may serve an interrogatory on another party as to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b). Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a). Likewise, Rule 34 dictates that "a party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b)... to produce... any designated documents... or any tangible things" ...