United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Haywood Haggins, 14800-041, USP Coleman II, U.S.
B. Roche and C. David Dietz, counsel for defendants
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge
Defendants have filed a Motion to Dismiss as Discovery
Sanction. ECF No. 99. Specifically, the Defendants argue that
dismissal is an appropriate sanction because Mr. Haggins has
failed to comply with his discovery obligations and with an
Order of this Court compelling him to do so. Defs.' Mem.
at 1, ECF No. 100. Mr. Haggins responds: (1) that he has
fully cooperated with the discovery process; (2) that he is
unable to comply with certain discovery requests the
Defendants have made; and (3) that the breadth of the
discovery requested was a ploy designed by the Defendants to
engineer a sanctions motion. Pl.'s Resp. at 1-5, ECF No.
on the parties' written arguments and all the proceedings
in this litigation, the Court recommends that the
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss be denied without
prejudice. If the District Court agrees with this course of
action, this Court also recommends modification of the
Haggins is currently an inmate at the United States
Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. At the time of the
events at issue in this lawsuit, he was awaiting a court
appearance as a detainee at a Ramsey County correctional
facility, where the Defendants work as correctional officers.
Mr. Haggins asserts that on February 9, 2009, the Defendants
brutally assaulted him, beating him and choking him until he
was unconscious. See Am. Compl., ECF No. 5.
Haggins originally filed his pro se complaint on January 12,
2015, ECF No. 1, and he was granted IFP status on February
17, 2015, ECF No. 8. Mr. Haggins had some difficulty
achieving service through the U.S. Marshals. In July 2015,
the Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint without
prejudice because they were not appropriately served,
see ECF No. 27, though defense counsel was
ultimately authorized to accept service on behalf of all but
one of the original Defendants, see ECF No. 37. On
March 15, 2016, the District Court dismissed the claims
against one Defendant for insufficient service and allowed
the other claims to proceed. ECF No. 64.
Court issued a Scheduling Order on March 31, 2016, giving the
parties until November 1, 2016 to complete discovery and
until January 1, 2017 to file any dispositive motions. ECF
No. 68. The January 1, 2017 deadline passed without any
dispositive motion being filed, and the Court sought a status
update from the parties. ECF No. 80. Though Mr. Haggins
asserted that he was ready for trial and would welcome an
opportunity to mediate the dispute, ECF No. 81, the
Defendants sought an extension of the schedule to engage in
pretrial discovery and to file a dispositive motion, ECF No.
82. The Defendants explained that extra time was needed
because Mr. Haggins is a federal prisoner and his relocation
to different federal facilities had made it difficult to
communicate with him in a timely manner. ECF No. 82. In
addition, the Defendants informed the Court that the
paralegal and initial attorney assigned to the case
unexpectedly left the Ramsey County Attorney's Office
after this case was filed, which resulted in delays in
getting new counsel up to speed on the litigation.
Id. Based on the showing of good cause in the
Defendants' status report, the Court extended the
deadlines in an Amended Scheduling Order, giving the parties
until April 3, 2017 to complete fact discovery and May 1,
2017 to file a dispositive motion. ECF No. 83. The Court
later extended the discovery cutoff to July 5, 2017 and the
dispositive motion deadline to August 1, 2017. ECF No. 98.
February 9, 2017, the Defendants served interrogatories and
requests for production of documents. See First
Roche Aff. ¶ 3, ECF No. 88. Mr. Haggins did not respond
to the discovery requests in a timely manner, but informed
the Defendants on March 30, 2017 that he was still working on
responses. Id. The following day, the Defendants
filed a motion to compel discovery, for the entry of a
protective order, and to further revise the schedule. ECF No.
86. This Court found that Mr. Haggins had improperly refused
to respond to interrogatories and document requests. 5/9/2017
Discovery Order at 2, ECF No. 91. The Court ordered Mr.
Haggins to respond to the written discovery requests by May
26, 2017. Id. at 3 ¶ 3.
response to the Court's Order granting the
Defendants' motion to compel, Mr. Haggins sent the
Defendants responses to their interrogatories. Defs.'
Mem., Ex. B, ECF No. 103. He objected to several of the
interrogatories and provided no substantive response to those
requests. He also gave no response at all to the
Defendants' request for production of documents.
Id. In their pending motion, the Defendants argue
that Mr. Haggins willfully failed to comply with his
obligations to respond to discovery and this Court's
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides courts with
broad discretion to impose sanctions for failing to comply
with a court's discovery order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2).
Rule 37(b) requires that any sanction imposed be “just
and that it be specifically related to the claim at issue in
the discovery order.” Gleghorn v. Melton, 195
Fed. App'x 535 (8th Cir. 2006) (per curiam). In any
event, “the ‘choice of sanction should be guided
by the concept of proportionality.'” Moore v.
Napolitano, 723 F.Supp.2d 167, 179 (D.D.C. 2010)
(quoting Bonds v. Dist. of Columbia, 93 F.3d 801,
808 (D.C. Cir. 1996)). In imposing any sanction “[t]he
court must balance the goals of enforcing the process of
discovery and ensuring adherence to policy aims of discovery
with the right of a party to have its case heard on the
merits.” Card Tech. Corp. v. DataCard Inc.,
249 F.R.D. 567, 571 (D. Minn. 2008).
37(b) includes a non-exclusive list of sanctions courts can
impose when a party fails to obey an order requiring it to
provide discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(b)(2)(A)(i)-(vii). Among
the options listed is “dismissing the action or
proceeding in whole or in part.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(b)(2)(A)(v). Because dismissal is “an extreme
result, ” such a sanction is permissible only in narrow
circumstances. Schubert v. Pfizer, Inc., 459 F.
App'x 568, 572 (8th Cir. 2012). Dismissal can only be
considered if there is: “(1) an order compelling
discovery; (2) a willful violation of that order; and (3)
prejudice to the other party.” Keefer v. Provident
Life and Acc. Ins. Co., 238 F.3d 937, 940 (8th Cir.
2000). Additionally, before dismissing a case under Rule
37(b)(2), the Court must investigate “whether a
sanction less extreme than dismissal would suffice, unless
the party's failure was deliberate or in bad