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Duncan v. Nunez

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

November 7, 2019

MARCO DAMON DUNCAN, Plaintiff
v.
JOSE NUNEZ, ET AL., Defendants

          DRELL JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          JOSEPH H.L. PEREZ-MONTES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Motion to Determine the Sufficiency of Defendants' Responses to Plaintiff's Fourth Request for Admissions (Doc. 188) filed by pro se Plaintiff Marco Damon Duncan (“Duncan”) (#37679-048). Duncan is an inmate in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado.

         Because Defendants' response is partially deficient, Duncan's Motion to Determine Sufficiency of Defendants' Answers to Plaintiff's Fouth Request for Admissions (Doc. 188) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

         I. Background

         Duncan initiated this litigation pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics[1] (Docs. 1, 16, 20) alleging that he was subjected to excessive force when he was incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary in Pollock, Louisiana.

         When the Motion was initially filed, Duncan had received no responses to the fourth set of Requests for Admissions (“RFA”). (Doc. 188). After receiving Defendants' responses, Duncan filed a supplement to his motion claiming that the responses to RFA 1 and RFA 2 are evasive and non-responsive; the response to RFA 4 is false; Defendants' objection to RFA 6 is improper and the response inadequate; the responses to RFA 12-14 are improper and non-responsive; and Defendants' objection to RFA 19 is improper and evasive. (Doc. 199).

         II. Law and Analysis

         Rule 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows parties to request admissions regarding the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b)(1), including ultimate facts, as well as applications of law to fact, or opinions about either. Fed.R.Civ.P. 36; see also In re Carney, 258 F.3d 415, 419 (5th Cir. 2001). The scope of Rule 36 “allows litigants to winnow down issues prior to trial and thus focus their energy and resources on disputed matters.” In re Carney, 258 F.3d at 419. However, Rule 36 does not provide for requests for admission regarding pure legal conclusions. Id. (citing Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Welles, 60 F.Supp.2d 1050, 1057 (S.D. Cal. 1999) (“Requests for admissions cannot be used to compel an admission of a conclusion of law.”)).

         In responding to requests for admission, a party must “specifically deny [them] or state in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(4). “A denial must fairly respond to the substance of the matter; and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest.” Id. “The answering party may assert lack of knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or deny only if the party states that it has made reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily obtain is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny.” Id.

RFA 1 states:
Please admit that there was a surveillance camera located directly above, and within 12 feet of the physical altercation that occurred inside of the B-12 Housing unit at USP-Pollock (USP-P) on January 13, 2017.
Response to RFA 1 states:
Denied. Any camera that is against a wall captures images away from the wall.

(Doc. 199-1, p. 2).

RFA 2 states:
Please admit that video footage of the altercation mentioned in the above Request for Admission (RFA) #1, which has been provided to the plaintiff, was not a copy of footage of the incident, taken from the video camera closest to the altercation.
Response to RFA 2 states:
Denied. The only camera that captured the incident was ...

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