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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 Sufficiency of Defendants' Supplemental Answers to Plaintiff's Third Request for Admissions (Doc. 181) 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' Supplemental Answers to Plaintiff's Third Request for Admissions (Doc. 181) 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.

         Duncan previously filed a Motion to Determine the Sufficiency of Plaintiff's Third Request for Admissions (“RFA”) (Doc. 154) arguing that Defendants' responses to certain requests did not comply with Rule 36(a)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A hearing was conducted on July 8, 2019, at which the Court denied in part and granted in part Duncan's Motion. Defendants were specifically ordered to supplement their responses to RFA 3, 4, 5, 10, and 24. (Doc. 164).

         In this Motion (Doc. 181), Duncan claims that Defendants' supplemental responses to RFA 5 and 10 are still insufficient and should be deemed admitted.

         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 5 states:
Please admit that there were inmates on the prison recreation yard at USP-P on 1-13-2017, while plaintiff was briefly escorted in front of the B-2 housing unit ...

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