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Prude v. Meli

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

April 26, 2019

TERRANCE PRUDE Plaintiff
v.
ANTHONY MELI, et al. Defendants TERRANCE PRUDE, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WARD, et al., Defendants TERRANCE PRUDE, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY BOUGHTON, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          STEPHEN L. CROCKER MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Terrance Prude, an inmate in the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, filed the three above-captioned lawsuits between May 5, 2017 and May 16, 2018.[1]In the ‘079 case, summary judgment motions are due by October 18, 2019, with trial set for May 4, 2020. In the ‘336 case, summary judgment motions are due by December 6, 2019, with trial set for June 22, 2020. In the ‘361 case, summary judgment motions are due by January 31, 2020, with trial set for August 10, 2020.

         Prude's MO in civil litigation is to immediately file dispositive motions. This is what he has done in each of these three cases, with varying responses from the three different AAGs representing the defendants. I will address each case in turn, but I will start with a general observation: Prude must comply with this court's procedures when engaging in motions practice unless the court excuses compliance.[2] For instance, Prude relies heavily on F.R. Civ. Pro. 10[c] to avoid filing separate proposed findings of fact (PFFs) in support of his summary judgment motions. But Rule 10[c] simply allows a statement in a pleading to be adopted by reference. It does not supersede this court's requirement in its summary judgment procedure that a party submit PFFs.

         That said, the court does not intend to make things more difficult for Prude by glorifying form over substance. If the AAG in a particular case doesn't object to using Prude's complaint as his PFFs, then the court will allow it. Worth noting, however, is that Prude's sworn verification of the allegations in each of his complaints does not mean that all of these allegations automatically constitute admissible evidence. There may be evidentiary challenges in the State's responses that could knock some of Prude's allegations out of the summary judgment analysis. This remains to be seen. The bottom line is that although the court will not hold Prude to the standards set for trained attorneys, Prude does not have any right to cut procedural corners just to make things easier for himself. Prude not only chose to file three civil lawsuits in a row, he chose to jump the gun on dispositive motions in all three cases. Prude dealt himself this hand, now he has to play it.

         Let's review the status of Prude's three pending cases:

         This case arises out of defendants' confiscation of a $10, 000 check mailed to Prude that defendants contend was an improper payment to Prude for having provided legal services to another inmate. On March 3, 2019-prior to the March 8, 2019 telephonic preliminary pretrial conference-Prude filed a summary judgment motion in which he adopted his sworn complaint as his PFFs pursuant to F.R. Civ. Pro. 10[c] See dkts. 57 & 58. Prude simultaneously filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12[c], again incorporating his complaint by reference. See dkt. 56. In ‘336, Prude also has pending a second motion (dkt. 55) for reconsideration of this court's leave to proceed order and its order granting in part Prude's first motion for reconsideration (dkt. 42).

         On March 20, 2019, defendants, by AAG Paulson, filed a motion (dkt. 65) to extend their response deadline to May 31, 2019, at which time the State will not only respond to Prude's motion, it will file its own summary judgment motion. The State did not object to the manner in which Prude filed his PFFs. Prude did not object to this extension (dkt. 67), so the court granted it (dkt. 68). Subsequently, Prude pointed out a scanning error for some of his documents in the docket, which the court corrected, see dkts. 69-72.

         In sum, Prude's dispositive motions and accompanying submissions are acceptable in No. 336. The court will take up all of the dispositive motions at once when both sides have timely submitted their documents.

         This case has six pro se prisoner plaintiffs[3] who all allege that they were subjected to an intentionally humiliating public group strip search, which caused each of them to suffer psychological harm. At the February 5, 2019 telephonic preliminary pretrial conference, the court confirmed with each plaintiff that he understood that he was responsible for his own case: while the plaintiffs may work together and rely on each other to do shared work, each plaintiff must literally sign off on every document submitted in his name. The court then set October 18, 2019 as the deadline to file dispositive motions and set jury selection and trial for May 4, 2020. See dkt. 39.

         Just six weeks later, on March 19, 2019, all six plaintiffs submitted a summary judgment motion that Prude had written. Prude alone signed the motion and the cover letter (dkt. 41 and 41-1). All five plaintiffs signed the brief in support (dkt. 42 at 7). The PFFs (dkt. 43) are technically in the proper format, although Prude did not go to the trouble of re-writing into this document the actual statement from the verified complaint that the plaintiffs were citing.

         On March 28, 2019, defendants, by AAG Spitz, filed a motion (dkt.45) to depose all of the plaintiffs. The State also filed a Rule 56(d) motion to postpone its deadline to respond to plaintiffs' summary judgment motion until October 18, 2019, when defendants intend to file their own summary judgment motion. Dkt. 46. As their fallback position, defendants have asked for 60 extra response days beyond their April 19, 2019 response deadline. Prude responded by opposing the long extension but not opposing a 60-day extension. (dkt. 49). No. other plaintiff responded.

         Given the number of plaintiffs and the nature of the allegations, defendants have met their burden under Rule 56(d) to obtain an extension, but they haven't shown that they genuinely need six extra months to respond. The rule, by its terms, does not allow a longer continuance for the purpose of pairing a summary judgment response with a party's own summary judgment motion. Taking into account the totality of circumstances, the court finds that three additional months of response time are necessary to ensure that defendants can gather and present facts essential to their opposition. Therefore, defendants' response deadline is extended to July 19, 2019.

         Because of the logistics attendant to a six-plaintiff pro se prisoner lawsuit, plaintiffs may have 14 days to reply in support of their summary judgment motion. If defendants end up filing a proactive summary judgment motion with their response, then plaintiffs' reply on their own motion may be filed with their response to defendants' motion.

         The allegations underlying this lawsuit are confidential at this time. On March 4, 2019, prior to the March 15, 2019 telephonic preliminary pretrial conference, Prude filed all of the documents necessary for a summary judgment motion except for an actual motion. See dkts. 18-22. At the pretrial conference, the court set January 31, 2020 as the ...


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