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Fields v. Flanagan

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 12, 2015

CHARLES FIELDS, Plaintiff,
v.
CHERYL FLANAGAN, et al., Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS [48, 56] AFFIRMING ORDER ON MOTION FOR DISCOVERY SANCTIONS [46], ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [51], AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT [1]

LAURIE J. MICHELSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Charles Fields, a Michigan prisoner, filed this lawsuit against several Michigan Department of Corrections ("MDOC") officers. (Dkt. 1.) He asserts that he was transferred to a prison facility in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in retaliation for his filing of grievances against the named Defendants. ( Id. ) There are two motions for summary judgment pending. (Dkts. 27, 30.) Plaintiff requested, and was granted, numerous extensions of time to respond to the motions. ( See Dkts. 32, 39, 46.) But instead of responding, Plaintiff filed several discovery-related motions. (Dkts. 33, 42, 49.) Now before the Court are Magistrate Judge Hluchaniuk's Order on Plaintiff's Rule 37(d) Motion for Discovery Sanctions (Dkt. 46) and Report and Recommendation for Sua Sponte Dismissal (Dkt. 51), and Fields' Objections to the Order (Dkt. 48) and Report (Dkt. 56). For the reasons that follow, the Court OVERRULES Fields' Objections, AFFIRMS the Order, ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation, and DISMISSES the case.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this case on September 30, 2013. (Dkt. 1.) He alleges that after he filed grievances against the named Defendants, they transferred him to a prison in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His claims arise under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 and the First Amendment. The matter was referred for all pretrial proceedings to Magistrate Judge Michael Hluchaniuk. (Dkt. 19.)

In May and June 2014, Defendants filed two motions for summary judgment. Defendants Abdoo, Nobles, Nowak, Trammell, and Ward filed theirs on May 13, 2014. (Dkt. 27.) The magistrate judge ordered Plaintiff to respond by June 30, 2014, and warned that "[f]ailure to file a response may result in sanctions, including granting all or part of the relief requested by the moving party." (Dkt. 29.) Meanwhile, Defendant Howard filed a motion for summary judgment on June 19, 2014. (Dkt. 30.) The magistrate judge ordered Plaintiff to respond to that motion by August 4, 2014 and provided the same warning regarding failure to respond. (Dkt. 31.)

Plaintiff requested additional time to respond to the first summary-judgment motion, and he was granted an extension until August 4, 2014 by text order. Thus, both of his responses were due by August 4, 2014. On that date, instead of filing a response, Plaintiff filed a motion for discovery under Rule 56(d) (Dkt. 32). A few days later, on August 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to file his summary-judgment responses. (Dkt. 35.) Plaintiff asserted that he needed certain documents relating to other prisoners' facility transfers in order to properly respond to the motions for summary judgment. More specifically, Plaintiff alleged "that he was laterally transferred from [Ryan Correctional facility (RRF)] to Newberry Correctional Facility (NCF) in the Upper Peninsula in retaliation for exercising the grievance process" and "that the discovery he seeks will show whether any other transfers to and from RRF during the July 23, 2011 to September 23, 2011time period were for making room for incoming prisoners, and thus possibly dispute defendants' stated reason for his transfer." (Dkt. 46 at 3.)

On October 24, 2014, the magistrate judge entered an order granting in part and denying in part the discovery motion. (Dkt. 39.) He directed Defendants to "produce documents responsive to request numbers 2 and 3, seeking transfer screens and transfer orders to and from RRF between 7/23/11 and 9/23/11 [and] requests for bed space/transfers from CFA to RRF during the 7/23/11 to 9/23/11 time period (as requested in request number 5)." ( Id. at 5.) He also set a new deadline of December 5, 2014 for Plaintiff's response to the motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. 39.) Defendants filed a notice of compliance with the discovery order on November 19, 2014. (Dkt. 41.)

On December 5, 2014, the day his summary judgment responses were due, Plaintiff filed only a motion for discovery sanctions under Rule 37(b). (Dkt. 42.) He alleged that Defendants had provided him falsified and incomplete documentation in violation of the December 5, 2014 order. ( Id. at 3.) Defendants responded, explaining that they had provided Plaintiff with printed transfer orders downloaded from a server, rather than retrieving the original copies, which were stored in various prison facilities across the state of Michigan. (Dkt. 44 at 2.) They further stated that, as to some of Plaintiff's requests, no responsive documents existed. ( Id. at 4.)

On January 21, 2015, the magistrate judge granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's motion for discovery sanctions. (Dkt. 46.) The magistrate judge found that Defendants had produced documents relating to an incorrect time period and therefore ordered them to correct their response by February 4, 2015. ( Id. at 6.) But he found that the downloaded copies of the transfer orders gave Plaintiff adequate information and credited Defendants' argument that it would be unduly burdensome to produce the original transfer orders. ( Id. ) He set Plaintiff's new summary-judgment response deadline for February 18, 2015. He warned: "This is a final deadline and no further extensions will be granted." ( Id. at 6.) Defendants filed a statement of compliance with the Order on January 30, 2015. (Dkt. 47.) Plaintiff has filed objections (Dkt. 48), which will be addressed below.

On February 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed a "Motion for Ruling on Bradley Haynie's Affidavit Submitted in Bad Faith" as to the affidavit Defendants submitted in response to Plaintiff's motion for discovery sanctions. (Dkt. 49.)

On February 18, 2015, rather than file responses to the two summary judgment motions filed back in May and June 2014, and despite the magistrate judge's admonition that no further extensions would be granted, Plaintiff filed another motion for more time to respond. (Dkt. 50.)

On February 26, 2015, the magistrate judge entered a report and recommendation to dismiss the Complaint (Dkt. 51) and an order denying Plaintiff's motion regarding the Haynie affidavit and for more time. (Dkt. 52.) The magistrate judge also denied Plaintiff's Motion regarding the Haynie affidavit in this Report. (Dkt. 51 at 4.) Plaintiff requested an extension of time to file objections to the Report and the Order, which was granted in part. (Dkt. 55.) Plaintiff filed his objections on April 3, 2015 (Dkt. 56), and the matter is now ready for disposition. The Court will consider Plaintiff's objections to both the Order and the Report.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Magistrates Act, 28 ...


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