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Moffett v. Strahota

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

December 5, 2016

WALTER J. D. MOFFETT, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD STRAHOTA, MEISNER, SGT. MYER, B. GREFF, WALKER, ANGELIA KROLL, JANE DOES 1-2, and JOHN DOES 1-2, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LYNN ADELMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I allowed plaintiff Walter J. D. Moffett to proceed on Eighth Amendment claims regarding his treatment in segregation at Waupun Correctional Institution in 2013, as well as staff's failure to investigate plaintiff's complaints regarding the conditions. This matter is now before me on several motions filed by plaintiff and defendants' fully briefed motion for summary judgment on exhaustion grounds.

         A. Plaintiff's Motions

         In March 2016, plaintiff filed three motions: a motion for discovery and production of documents, a motion to file exhibits, and a motion for reconsideration. ECF Nos. 18- 20. Plaintiff brings his motion for discovery and production of documents under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 34, but the motion is actually plaintiff's initial interrogatories and requests for production of documents to defendants. The court does not routinely participate in discovery in civil cases. The parties serve discovery requests, including interrogatories and requests for production (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 33 and 34) on each other and, subject to objections, the other party responds. Parties only bring motions regarding discovery (motions to compel under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37) if they have a discovery dispute that they are unable to resolve after attempting in good faith to come to an agreement. I will deny this motion.

         Plaintiff later filed a motion for an order compelling discovery because defendants had not responded to the interrogatories and requests for production in his motion for discovery. ECF No. 38. I will deny this motion because defendants were under no obligation to respond to the discovery requests plaintiff included in his motion for discovery. I also note that this motion does not comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a) or Civil Local Rule 37 (E.D. Wis.) because it does not contain a certification that plaintiff attempted in good faith to meet and confer with defendants regarding the discovery dispute before bringing his motion.

         Next, in his motion to file exhibits, plaintiff asks me to consider five pages of exhibits as part of his motion for reconsideration. I will grant this motion and have considered these exhibits in support of plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

         In his motion for reconsideration, plaintiff asks me reconsider portions of two of my previous orders in this case. He challenges my denial of his request for a preliminary injunction, my dismissal of parties at screening, and my decision not to recruit pro bono counsel for him. He also asserts that new incidents at Columbia Correctional Institution (where he is now incarcerated) warrant a preliminary injunction. Since filing this motion, plaintiff has submitted a number of other documents detailing his current troubles at Columbia Correctional Institution, all of which I have considered as part of plaintiff's motion.

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), I may revise any order adjudicating fewer than all the claims at any time before the entry of judgment adjudicating all the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties. Motions to reconsider (or more formally, to revise) an order under Rule 54(b) are judged by largely the same standards as motions to alter or amend a judgment under Rule 59(e), “to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.” Rothwell Cotton Co. v. Rosenthal & Co., 827 F.2d 246, 251 (7th Cir. 1987) (quoting Keene Corp. v. Int'l Fid. Ins. Co., 561 F.Supp. 656, 665-66 (N.D. Ill. 1976)). “Reconsideration is not an appropriate forum for rehashing previously rejected arguments or arguing matters that could have been heard during the pendency of the previous motion.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996).

         Plaintiff has not shown that I made any manifest errors of law or fact in my earlier decisions. Nor has he presented newly discovered evidence that changes the outcome of those motions. With regard to my decision to dismiss plaintiff's original complaint (thereby dismissing some defendants) under George v. Smith, 507 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2007) and my decision not to recruit pro bono counsel for him, plaintiff makes no substantive arguments undermining my decisions.

         Plaintiff's arguments regarding my decision not to enter a preliminary injunction revolve around his recent and current conditions of confinement at Columbia Correctional Institution. Yet his claims in this case relate to events that occurred in 2013 at Waupun Correctional Institution. Plaintiff's claims regarding Columbia are entirely separate claims, and he may file a new complaint if he believes they violate his constitutional rights, either as impermissible conditions of confinement under the Eighth Amendment or as retaliation under the First Amendment for filing and litigating this case. However, plaintiff may not proceed on these new claims as part of this case, and the allegations are not an appropriate basis for a preliminary injunction in this case. See Hashim v. Hamblin, Case No. 14-cv-1265, 2016 WL 297465, at *4 (E.D. Wis. January 22, 2016) (“Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief are not connected to the claims he is proceeding on in this case. He may not seek relief in connection with these claims in this lawsuit.”). I will deny plaintiff's motion for reconsideration as it relates to my prior orders in this case.

         In his motion for reconsideration, plaintiff also asks me to add Belinda Schrubbe as a defendant. I noted in my order screening plaintiff's amended complaint that he made a number of claims against her but that he had not named her as a defendant and I could not add her on my own motion. Plaintiff asserts that he inadvertently omitted her name from the list of defendants and asks to add her as a defendant at this time. I will grant this portion of plaintiff's motion, add Belinda Schrubbe as a defendant, and order service of plaintiff's amended complaint on her.

         B. Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment

         On April 13, 2016, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment along with their answer. They submit that they are entitled to judgment because plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. That motion is fully briefed.

         Under the PLRA, a prisoner must exhaust “such administrative remedies as are available” before bringing suit “with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 . . . or any other federal law.” 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Unexhausted claims are procedurally barred from consideration. See Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 93 (2006). The exhaustion requirement is interpreted strictly; “[a] prisoner must comply with the ...


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