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Riggs v. Jordan

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

June 20, 2019

CLAY LANDIS RIGGS
v.
CRAWFORD JORDAN, ET AL.

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KAREN L. HAYES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a motion for sanctions filed by defendants Kevin Kelly, Garrison Williams, and Michael Stewart (“Defendants”). [doc. # 83]. The motion is unopposed. For reasons detailed below, it is recommended that the motion be GRANTED and Plaintiff's claims be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         Background

         Plaintiff Clay Riggs, proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, is an inmate in the custody of Louisiana's Department of Corrections. He filed the instant lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants, prison officials in the facility in which Riggs is housed, used excessive force and retaliated against him. [doc. # 22].

         On September 10, 2018, Defendants filed a motion to depose Riggs. [doc. # 67]. The Court granted the motion and ordered Riggs to “answer the questions presented to him during the course of the deposition.” [doc. # 68]. The Court also instructed Riggs that “should he fail to answer questions posed to him during the course of his deposition he may be subject to penalties as allowed by law, including the dismissal of his suit.” (Id.)

         Riggs' deposition was scheduled for September 24, 2018. On that day, Riggs appeared for his deposition but refused to answer questions about his criminal history and insisted he was being held against his will. [doc. # 80-4]. Due to Rigg's lack of cooperation, Defendants filed a motion for sanctions, requesting that the Court order Riggs to pay the costs associated with his deposition and either dismiss his suit or instruct him that his suit will be dismissed if he fails to cooperate in discovery. [doc. # 80-1 at 4].

         On January 23, 2019, the Court declined to dismiss Riggs' suit or impose a monetary sanction but admonished him that “his failure to respond to opposing counsel's questions was unacceptable” and ordered that “he shall appear for his deposition at a time and place set forth by Defendants and answer questions fully and to the best of his knowledge. Plaintiff's failure to comply with this Order will result in the Court recommending that his case be dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 and/or 41(b).” [doc. # 82].

         On May 15, 2019, Defendants filed the instant motion for sanctions. [doc. # 83]. Defendants claim that following the Court's Order, they attempted to contact Riggs to schedule a new deposition date. [doc. # 83-1 at 1-2]. Their first letter to Plaintiff was unclaimed and returned to sender on March 1, 2019, and their second letter was delivered on March 18, 2019. (Id.); [see docs. # 83-2-83-3]. Despite receiving the letter, Riggs has not responded to Defendants. [doc. # 83-1 at 2].

         Defendants also note that Riggs has failed to file a pretrial memorandum as required by the Court's November 27, 2018 Order, [doc. # 79]. Defendants provided Riggs with the exhibits they intend to introduce at trial, [see doc. # 83-4], but Riggs has not reciprocated. [doc. # 83-1 at 2]. “Based on Riggs' blatant refusal to follow this Court's Orders, Defendants seek the final sanction of dismissal, with full prejudice.” (Id.).

         Riggs has not filed a response to Defendants' motion.

         Law and Analysis

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(b) authorizes a court to impose sanctions, including dismissing an action, if a party fails to comply with a court's order to “be sworn or to answer a question” or “provide or permit discovery.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(1)-(2). Likewise, a court may dismiss an action on defendant's motion if “the plaintiff fails to prosecute or to comply with these rules or a court order.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(b).

         “Pro se litigants are not exempt from compliance with the rules of procedure.” Miguez v. Ackal, No. 6: 16-CV-00213, 2017 WL 2581060, at *3 (W.D. La. May 22, 2017) (quoting Beard v. Experian Info. Sols. Inc., 214 Fed.Appx. 459, 462 (5th Cir. 2007)). Thus, even an individual who ...


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