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Smith v. Unknown Weers

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

April 24, 2017

DERRICK LEE SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN WEERS, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          HON. JANET T. NEFF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a prisoner civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging retaliation claims (retaliatory transfer). Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt 101); Plaintiff also filed a motion for summary judgment (Dkt 110). The matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge, who issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R, Dkt 121), recommending Defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted and Plaintiffs motion be denied. The matter is presently before the Court on Plaintiffs Objection to the Report and Recommendation (Dkt 122). Defendants have filed a Response to the Objection (Dkt 126), and Plaintiff has filed a Reply (Dkt 128). Plaintiff has now filed a Motion for Leave to File Sworn Affidavit and Documents in support of his Objection (Dkt 124) and a Motion to Stay Proceedings (Dkt 129). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), the Court has performed de novo consideration of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which objections have been made. The Court denies Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to File, denies Plaintiffs Motion to Stay, denies Plaintiffs objections, and issues this Opinion and Order.

         I. Plaintiffs Motions

         On February 10, 2017, after the Magistrate Judge issued the Report and Recommendation on the pending dispositive motions, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to File additional documents (Dkt 124). Plaintiff requests that the record be supplemented with additional evidence, including Plaintiffs sworn affidavit as well as Michigan Department of Corrections Grievance Forms, Prisoner Pass, and Misconduct Appeal (Dkt 124-2). On March 8, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Stay all Proceedings (Dkt 129) until the Court makes a determination whether Plaintiff may file additional documents on objections to the Report and Recommendation, a matter raised by Defendants in their response (Dkt 126).

         The Court finds no valid basis for Plaintiffs proposed amendment of the record at this late stage of these proceedings. "It is well established that a party may not raise an argument, advance a theory, or marshal evidence before a District Judge that was not fairly presented to the Magistrate Judge." Marr v. Foy, No. 1:07-cv-908, 2010 WL 3061297, at *4, *7 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 3, 2010). "'To require a district court to consider evidence not previously presented to the magistrate judge would effectively nullify the magistrate judge's consideration of the matter and would not help to relieve the workload of the district court.'" Id. at *4 (quoting United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 622 (9th Cir. 2000)).

         Plaintiff offers no justification for seeking to admit additional evidence in conjunction with his Objection to the Report and Recommendation, other than that it supports his position. Plaintiff states that the "grievances and letters are not offered newly, they have been argued before" (Dkt 129-1 at PageID.824). It appears that at least some of the documents sought to be admitted were previously filed (see, e.g., Dkt 124-2 at PageID.769 and Dkt 32-1 at PageID.234). To the extent that Plaintiff offers evidence already in the record, his motion to supplement the record is moot. To the extent that Plaintiff offers new evidence, Plaintiff has failed to show a valid basis for receiving the additional evidence after the Report and Recommendation was issued. Plaintiffs Motion for Leave to file is denied. Having decided the question of the additional evidence proffered, Plaintiffs Motion to Stay Proceedings is denied as moot.

         II. Plaintiff's Objections

         Plaintiff presents the Court with 42 pages of objections[1] to the ten-page Report and Recommendation (and an additional 24 pages of reply), most of which merely restates his complaint allegations and summary judgment arguments and does not properly object to specific findings or conclusions of the Magistrate Judge. Plaintiff enumerates seventeen objections, which raise various matters. The Court addresses the objections in six general groups, highlighting examples, although there is much repetition and overlap in Plaintiffs assertions and arguments throughout his objections. In short, Plaintiff fails to show any valid basis for rejecting the analysis and conclusions of the Magistrate Judge.

         A. Summary Judgment Standard (E.g., Objections 1, 3, 6, 10 and 12)

         In objection 1, Plaintiff asserts that there is a genuine dispute as to the material facts and Defendants are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law (Dkt 122 at PageUJ.706). He states only that "Defendants] have not satisfied it's [sic] burden by their failure to demonstrate that there was no evidence to support their argument as to the elements of the case, " when in fact "Plaintiff has provided evidence to support the Plaintiffs] case and met the burden of showing that there is evidence to support the elements of the case" (id.). In objection 3, Plaintiff asserts that the Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the moving party, and that as the moving party, "Plaintiff has shown there is clear proof to the material facts" (id.). In objections 6 and 10, Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge failed to view the case in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, as the nonmoving party, and instead viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants. Plaintiff further states that the Magistrate Judge gave automatic deference to Defendants even though their motion relies on theories and no facts and Defendants admitted that his transfer resulted in his Branch County cases being "thrown out, " which is clear retaliation (id. at PageID.708-709). In objection 12, Plaintiff takes further issue with the Magistrate Judge's conclusion under the summary judgment standards, stating inconsistently that the Magistrate Judge's decision is wrong because no reasonable trier of fact could find other than for Plaintiff but that "the evidence is susceptible to different interpretations or inferences" by the trier of fact (id. at PageID.731).

         These objections are without merit. The Magistrate Judge correctly set forth the standards for summary judgment motions (R&R, Dkt 121 at PageID.695-696). With respect to Plaintiffs motion, she observed that "Plaintiff clearly misunderstands the concept of summary judgment and what must be demonstrated to obtain such" (id. at PageID.697). Plaintiff continues to misstate the showing required to obtain summary judgment. Plaintiff is not entitled to summary judgment merely because he has presented some evidence to support his case. In any event, Plaintiffs objections reflect no error in the Magistrate Judge's application of the summary judgment standards, but merely Plaintiffs disagreement with the general outcome. As discussed subsequently, such general disagreement with the result does not constitute proper objection to the Report and Recommendation.

         B. Plaintiffs Lack of Specific Objection and Mere Disagreement with the Ontcome (E.g., Objections 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 and 15-1)

         With respect to several "objections, " Plaintiff fails to specifically object to the Report and Recommendation, thus failing to properly present any dispositive issues for de novo review. Such lengthy, repetitive, unfocused argument does not constitute proper objection to the Report and Recommendation. See W.D. Mich. LCivR 72.3(b) (a party "shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed findings, recommendation or report to which objections are made"). All such objections are denied.

         For example, Plaintiffs objection 2 asserts, in total, that "Plaintiff has clearly identified specific facts that have been clearly established by the evidence on the Court record" (Dkt 122 at PageID.706). Plaintiffs assertion presents no specific objection to the Report and Recommendation.

         In objection 4, Plaintiff states that he has shown that his "position is clear and factual, " and he reiterates his basic retaliatory transfer argument (Dkt 122 at PageID.706-707). Plaintiff states that the Magistrate Judge failed to "take into full consideration" Plaintiffs arguments (id. at PageID.707). In objection 6, Plaintiff repeats his assertion that Defendants' transfer of him was clear retaliation (id. at PageID.708-709).

         In objection 5, Plaintiff merely asserts facts concerning his claims in the Branch County Circuit Court, but fails to show how these facts bear on the analysis in the ...


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