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Johnson v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Alexandria Division

January 31, 2019

RON JOHNSON, Plaintiff
VICTOR E. JONES, ET AL., Defendants

          DRELL JUDGE



         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 38) for abuse of discovery filed by Defendants Victor E. Jones, Jr. (“Jones”), Patrick Davis (“Davis”), and Dean Dove (“Dove”) (collectively referred to as “Defendants”). Plaintiff Ron Johnson (“Johnson”) opposes the motion. (Doc. 41). Defendants replied (Doc. 42). Because Johnson failed to comply with the Court's discovery order, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 38) should be GRANTED.

         I. Background

         Johnson, proceeding in forma pauperis, filed a civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 19, 2017. (Doc. 1). Johnson named Defendants in their official and individual capacities. (Doc. 1). Johnson alleges excessive force, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, battery, and assault. (Doc. 1).

         Johnson alleges Jones, as Sheriff and Chief Law Enforcement Officer for Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office (“NPSO”), was responsible for the policies, practices, customs, procedures, deliberate indifference, and negligence of Davis and Dove. (Doc. 1). Johnson alleges Jones is responsible for the hiring, training, supervision, discipline, and control of deputy personnel under his command. (Doc. 1). Johnson alleges Davis was acting under color of state law a Lieutenant in the course and scope of his employment with the NPSO. (Doc. 1). Johnson alleges Dove, was acting under color of state law as Warden, Natchitoches Parish Detention Center (“NPDC”). (Doc. 1).

         Johnson was an inmate at the NPDC on August 10, 2017. (Doc. 1). He was moved to the booking area of the NPDC awaiting transfer to Rapides Parish. (Doc. 1). Johnson claims he was assaulted by Davis, who physically attacked him from the booking area to the Sally Port area, at which time he began to choke Johnson. (Doc. 1). According to Johnson, Davis had to be pulled away from him. (Doc. 1).

         Johnson claims Jones failed to properly train, supervise, and discipline his employees, including Davis and Dove. (Doc. 1). Johnson claims Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his rights and physical and mental well-being. (Doc. 1). Johnson further alleges Defendants sanctioned de facto polices, practices, and/or customs that violated his civil and constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. (Doc. 1). Johnson maintains Jones developed, implemented, enforced, encouraged, and sanctioned de facto policies, practices, and/or customs of battering and assaulting individuals without legal justification and using excessive force. (Doc. 1).

         Johnson asserts three counts: (1) “42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments”; (2) “a Monell claim”; and (3) “Negligence, La. Civ. Code art. 2315, Assault and Battery.” (Doc. 1). Johnson seeks monetary damages, pre-judgment interest, costs and expenses, and reasonable attorney's fees. (Doc. 1).

         Defendants answered, asserting various affirmative defenses, including failure to state a claim for relief, qualified immunity, and prescription. (Doc. 9). On February 7, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Compel and for Attorney Fees, asserting that Johnson failed to respond to their discovery requests from October 12, 2017. (Doc. 19). On February 28, 2018, Johnson opposed the Motion to Compel, asserting that he was not obligated to respond to the discovery requests which were served before a Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(f) discovery conference. (Doc. 24). Johnson also asserted the requests were premature under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1). (Doc. 24). A motion hearing was held on May 15, 2018, at which time Defendants withdrew their Motion for Attorney Fees and alleged that Johnson's responses provided on May 15, 2018, were still evasive and incomplete. (Doc. 36).

         By Memorandum Order on May 31, 2018, the undersigned granted Defendants' Motion to Compel. (Doc. 36). The undersigned found that Johnson's responses to the discovery requests were evasive and incomplete, and that Defendants' discovery requests were no longer premature under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d)(1). (Doc. 36). The undersigned further ordered Johnson to supplement his answers to Interrogatories, produce documents responsive to the Requests for Production, and complete, sign, and return to the Defendants' attorney the authorizations served with the discovery requests within 21 days of service of the Order. (Doc. 36).

         On July 3, 2018, Defendants filed this Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 38), seeking dismissal of Johnson's claims and cause of action, with prejudice, for abuse of discovery. (Doc. 38-1). Defendants allege they are prejudiced in their ability to prepare their defense and fully to explore the claims against them. (Doc. 38-1). Defendants allege Johnson intentionally failed to provide basic discovery information despite this Court's Order. (Doc. 38-1). At the time of filing, Defendants allege no responses have been forthcoming. (Doc. 38-1).

         On July 24, 2018, Johnson, through his attorney, responded and supplemented his discovery responses “to the best of his abilities.”[1] (Doc. 41). Johnson's attorney asserts Johnson is not currently in possession of any of the requested medical records or bills for treatment for the alleged injuries. (Doc. 41). He further asserts Johnson has provided the relevant names and contact information for Defendants to request records, and of potential witnesses. (Doc. 41). Counsel admits he has not forwarded signed authorizations as Johnson is “incapacitated.”[2] (Doc. 41). Mr. Hayes argues this should not prevent Defendants from seeking the requested records through other means. (Doc. 41).

         Additionally, counsel asserts Defendants cannot allege prejudice as they themselves took over six months to respond to Johnson's discovery requests.[3]Counsel asserts he has not willfully disobeyed this Court's discovery order and has supplemented the responses to the best of his current abilities. (Doc. 41). He requests the Court deem Johnson's responses sufficient, and that less drastic sanctions ...

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