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Draughn v. Bouchard

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

July 19, 2017

Ronald Draughn, Plaintiff,
Michael Bouchard, et al., Defendants.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis, United States Magistrate Judge


          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, United States District Court Judge

         I. Introduction

         This matter came before the Court on Plaintiff's July 10, 2017 objections, Dkt. No. 93, to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis's June 23, 2017 order, Dkt. No. 92. For the reasons stated herein, the Court will AFFIRM Magistrate Judge Davis's order and OVERRULE Plaintiff's objections [93].

         II. Standard of Review

         Rule 72(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to submit objections to a magistrate judge's ruling on non-dispositive matters, such as discovery orders.[1] Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). While Rule 72(b) provides a timeline in which a party may respond to opposing counsel's objections to a ruling on a dispositive matter, Rule 72(a) does not state that a response may be filed to objections. Compare Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a) with Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). “When an objection is filed to a magistrate judge's ruling on a non- dispositive motion, the ruling remains in full force and effect unless and until it is stayed by the magistrate judge or a district judge.” E.D. Mich. LR 72.2.

         As a non-dispositive matter, the review of a magistrate's discovery order is properly governed by the “clearly erroneous or contrary to law” standard of review. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). The United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit have both held that “a finding is ‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948) (explaining the clearly erroneous standard under Rule 52(a)); United States v. Mabry, 518 F.3d 442, 449 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting U.S. Gypsum, 333 U.S. at 395). This standard does not allow a reviewing court to reverse a magistrate judge's finding merely because it would have decided the matter differently. Sedgwick Ins. v. F.A.B.E. Custom Downstream Sys., Inc., 47 F.Supp.3d 536, 538 (E.D. Mich. 2014). See also 12 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3069 (2d ed. 1997) (“In sum, it is extremely difficult to justify alteration of the magistrate judge's nondispositive actions by the district judge.”).

         “The ‘clearly erroneous' standard applies only to the magistrate judge's factual findings; his legal conclusions are reviewed under the plenary ‘contrary to law' standard.” Sedgwick Ins., 47 F.Supp.3d at 538 (quoting Haworth, Inc. v. Herman Miller, Inc., 162 F.R.D. 289, 291 (W.D. Mich. 1995)). The Court's review under the “contrary to law” standard requires the exercise of independent judgment in determining whether the magistrate judge's legal conclusions “contradict or ignore applicable precepts of law, as found in the Constitution, statutes, or case precedent.” Gandee v. Glaser, 785 F.Supp. 684, 686 (S.D. Ohio 1992), aff'd, 19 F.3d 1432 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Adolph Coors Co. v. Wallace, 570 F.Supp. 202, 205 (N.D. Cal. 1983)).

         III. Discussion

         On June 23, 2017, Magistrate Judge Davis issued an order that granted Defendants' Motion for More Definite Statement, Dkt. No. 60, granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff's Motions to Compel, Dkt. No. 68, 72, and denied Plaintiff's Fourth Motion to Appoint Counsel, Dkt. No. 70. See Dkt. No. 92. Plaintiff now seeks to object to the Magistrate's order on three grounds. Dkt. No. 93. Having reviewed Magistrate Judge Davis's findings, the Court holds that her order is neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law and overrules Plaintiff's objections.

         A. Objection #1: Requiring Submission of an Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff first objects that Magistrate Judge Davis required him to submit an amended complaint that clarifies the claims Plaintiff seeks to bring and the parties against whom those claims are brought. See Dkt. No. 93, p. 2 (Pg. ID 767); Dkt. No. 92, pp. 3-6 (Pg. ID 753-56). Plaintiff states that the Magistrate's order is contrary to law, but does not provide a single case or citation in support of this argument. Similarly, Plaintiff argues the order is contrary to fact, but does not provide a single factual assertion that was clearly erroneous.

         Having reviewed the record, the Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Davis that submission of an amended complaint would greatly improve the clarity of Plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff's original complaint contained a litany of allegations against various named and anonymous individuals, some of which were dismissed in March 2017. See Dkt. No. 80. Plaintiff has not amended his complaint since this partial dismissal. Accordingly, it would be in the interest of judicial efficiency to have Plaintiff clearly restate his ...

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