United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
TOMMIE L. CARTER, Plaintiff,
ALLISON MCGOWAN, AMY GUNDERSON, DEREK SCHAUTEN, and JOEL SANKEY, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge.
who is incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, filed
a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
alleging that his civil rights were violated. (Docket #1).
This matter comes before the Court on several of
Plaintiff's recently filed motions, including: (1) a
motion to compel discovery responses (Docket #20); (2) a
motion for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining
order (Docket #21); (3) two motions for protective order
(Docket #22 and #23); and (4) a motion for sanctions (Docket
#24). Defendants oppose each of these motions. (Docket #27).
Plaintiff filed a short reply letter (Docket #28), and so the
motions are now ripe for resolution. For the reasons stated
below, all of Plaintiff's motions will be denied.
Motion to Compel Discovery Responses
first motion requests that the Court address Defendants'
failure to respond to his discovery requests within the time
provided by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket #20
at 1). After receiving his discovery requests in late
November 2016, Defendants' counsel sent Plaintiff a
letter stating that she would provide responses after the
Christmas holidays because of short-staffing and the breadth
of the requests. Id. Plaintiff objects to this,
noting that he did not consent to an extension of time.
Id. Defendants rejoin that they responded to
Plaintiff's discovery requests within thirty-seven days
of service and produced over 300 pages of documents. (Docket
#27 at 2). Defendants believe that Plaintiff has a litigation
strategy of serving “oppressive amounts of
discovery” while unfairly refusing to countenance even
minor extensions of time. Id.
his litigation strategy may be, Plaintiff's motion must
be denied. Plaintiff did not certify that he first made a
good-faith effort to meet and confer with Defendants'
counsel about the subject of his motion before seeking the
Court's intervention, as is required by the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure and the Court's Local Rules.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1); Civ. L. R. 37. Although he received a
letter from defense counsel about the anticipated date she
would respond to his discovery requests, he did not actually
confer with her regarding his objection to her proposed
extension. The purpose of Federal and Local Rule 37 is to
avoid just this sort of unnecessary court involvement in
minor discovery disagreements. Ross v. Bd. of Regents of
Univ. of Wisconsin Sys., No. 08-CV-230, 2008 WL 5129941,
at *1 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 5, 2008) (“The court has neither
the time, nor the inclination to act as a referee in every
minor dispute between the parties during discovery.”).
For this reason, the motion will be denied. Williams v.
Frank, No. 06C1051, 2007 WL 1217358, at *1 (E.D. Wis.
Apr. 19, 2007) (enforcing Local Rule 37 meet-and-confer
requirements against pro se prisoner).
Motion for Protective Order Related to Destruction of
first motion for protective order concerns the alleged
destruction of evidence. Plaintiff claims that disciplinary
records in Defendants' personnel files will be
“purged” after one year's time, thereby
destroying material relevant to his claims, which occurred in
2015. (Docket #22). Defendants state that no such documents
exist because none of them were disciplined in relation to
their interactions with Plaintiff. (Docket #27 at 2-3). Thus,
in Defendants' view the motion is moot. Id. The
Court agrees-Plaintiff's fear of possible spoliation is
grounded in pure speculation, not in fact. Plaintiff's
reply in support of his motions does nothing to aid his
argument, since he merely accuses defense counsel of lying.
See (Docket #28). This motion will, therefore, be
Motions for Preliminary Injunctive Relief, Protective Order,
and Sanctions Related to Searches and
remaining motions are related and concern his continuing
threats of suicide. Before turning to the motions, however,
it is first important to appreciate the nature of this case.
After screening, Plaintiff's lone remaining claim relates
to his attempted suicide in his cell. Plaintiff alleges that
on November 18, 2015, he informed Defendants that he would
attempt to commit suicide. (Docket #11 at 3). They did
nothing in response to this information, and he thereafter
attempted suicide in his cell by cutting himself with a razor
and overdosing on acetaminophen. Id. at 3-4.
motion for preliminary injunctive relief, Plaintiff claims
that he was ignored when he recently warned Defendants of
renewed plans to commit suicide. (Docket #21 at 1-2). In
particular, he requested that he be placed in
“observation” status, but those requests were
denied. Id. He asks that the Court order the prison
to place him in observation status and in physical restraints
whenever he makes such suicide threats. See Id. at
3. He argues that Defendants have been inept at keeping him
from harming himself and that the Court should intervene to
protect him from himself. See Id. at 2-3.
motion for sanctions is based on similar allegations. In it,
he seeks sanctions against Defendants for their failure to
prevent him from continuing to harm himself. (Docket #24 at
1). For instance, Plaintiff alleges that he has inflicted
injuries on himself by scraping himself with staples while
Defendants did nothing. Id. He also reiterates the
claims he made in his motion for injunctive relief concerning
his repeated, and ignored, suicide threats throughout
December 2016 and January 2017. Id. at 1-2. On
several occasions, he claims he managed to make himself bleed
and smeared blood on his cell and his person, yet officers
did not respond. Id. at 2. He calls for a
“prompt investigation” of his allegations and
that the Court order Defendants and other correctional staff
to comply with the applicable policies and procedures when
Plaintiff threatens suicide. Id.
in his second motion for protective order, Plaintiff contends
that correctional officers are repeatedly searching his cell
and his person. (Docket #23 at 1). He says the searches occur
“almost every other day” and involve officers
“shuffling his legal files and strewing them around,
hampering his preparation for this case.” Id.
He also claims that there are sometimes late-night searches
that include a strip-search of his person. Id. He
accuses Defendants of trying to interfere with this
litigation through these searches. Id. at 2.
However, Plaintiff also acknowledges that the officers
explained that the searches are being done in order to
uncover items Plaintiff might use to hurt himself with.
contend that Plaintiff's two motions relating to his
continuing threats of self-harm-the motion for preliminary
injunctive relief and the motion for sanctions-should be
denied. (Docket #27 at 3). Defendants argue that
Plaintiff's allegations concern many prison officials who
are not defendants in this case and that Plaintiff
inappropriately asks the Court to step in and oversee his
mental health treatment. Id.
also provided the declaration of Dr. Torria Van Buren, a
psychologist at the prison, who gives a detailed account of
Plaintiff's mental health treatment and opines that
Plaintiff has been fabricating instances where he threatens
self-harm. (Docket #25 at 4). On those instances where
Plaintiff in fact expressed suicidal thoughts, he was placed
in observation and then released when the danger passed.
Id. at 5-6. According to the doctor, Plaintiff has
expressly threatened to tell other inmates to engage in
self-harm, and threatened Defendants with litigation, if
Defendants and other prison staff do not respond to his
suicide threats as he ...