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Carter v. Cummings

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

October 3, 2016

TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,


          BARBARA B. CRABB, District Judge

         Pro se prisoner Tommie Carter is proceeding on the following claims: (1) defendants Antonio Cummings and Robert Pickle were aware of a substantial risk that plaintiff would seriously harm himself on October 17, 2013, but they consciously failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the harm, in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) defendant Jay Vanlanen refused to take pictures of plaintiff's injuries on October 17, 2013, in order to prevent plaintiff from proving his injuries, in violation of plaintiff's right to have access to the courts. Two motions are before the court, both filed by plaintiff: (1) a motion to compel discovery, dkt. #77; and (2) a motion to extend the summary judgment deadline from December 2, 2016, to May 12, 2017, dkt. #80. For the reasons explained below, I am denying the request for an extension of time and denying the motion to compel, with one narrow exception.


         A. Motion to Compel

         Before discussing plaintiff's individual discovery requests, I note a problem with his motion, which is that it includes no arguments regarding why he disagrees with defendants' objections to his requests. Instead, he simply summarizes each request and objection. It is not until his reply brief that he explains why he believes he is entitled to the requested information.

         Plaintiff has litigated enough cases in this court to know that he must support every motion he files with a developed argument showing why he is entitled to relief. Defendants should not have to guess. Including an argument in a reply brief is not sufficient because defendants do not have an opportunity to respond to a reply brief. In this case, the arguments in plaintiff's reply brief did not make any difference to the outcome of the motion, so defendants are not unfairly prejudiced. However, in the future, if plaintiff fails to support a motion to compel or any other motion with a developed argument, I will deny the motion without requiring any response from the defendants. In addition, if plaintiff files another motion to compel in this case or any other, he should attach copies of both his discovery requests and defendants' responses to them. This will allow the court to more easily understand plaintiff's motion and increase his chances of getting relief.

         1. Grievances

Request for production: Any and all grievances, complaints, or other documents received by prison officials at GBCI including the Warden, Deputy Warden, Security Director, Psychological service or his agents concerning the mistreatment of inmates by the Defendants and any memoranda, investigative files or other documents created in response to such complaints since October 17, 2013. Request for production: Any logs, lists or other documents reflecting grievances filed GBCI inmates from October 17, 2013 to the date of your response.

         Defendants object to these requests on the ground that they are overbroad and I agree.

         I see no connection between plaintiff's claims and a request for all grievances filed after October 17, 2013 or the logs recording those grievances. In his reply brief, plaintiff limits his request to grievances filed between October 17, 2013, and November 18, 2014, but he still does not explain how grievances unrelated to the issues in this case could help him prove his claims.

         2. Policies related to prisoner self harm

         Request for production: Any and all policies, directives, or instructions to staff concerning the way to handle inmates who cut themselves.

         Defendants provided seemingly contradictory responses to this request. First, they said that they had no responsive documents. Second, they said that they had written training materials, but they objected to producing them because the materials could “provide the inmate with the criteria that could allow for manipulating potential incidents, or thwarting staff response. Inmates could use the details in these materials to circumvent security practices or staff actions creating a dangerous situation for the inmate, staff, and the institution.” I understand defendants to be arguing that the training materials do not qualify as “policies, directives or instructions, ” but even if they do, defendants should not be required to produce them for security reasons.

         In his reply brief, plaintiff says that he “is not asking for training materials, ” dkt. #83 at 2, so I need not decide whether defendants need to produce those. Instead, plaintiff says that he wants the “materials that show[] the responsibility of the officers when an inmate inform[s] them that he was going to harm himself and actually does harm himself.” Id. ...

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