United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Haywood Haggins, Terre Haute, IN 47808
B. Roche and C. David Dietz, Ramsey County Attorney's
Office, counsel for defendants
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KATHERINE MENENDEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
September 12, 2017, the District Court denied the
Defendants' first motion for dismissal as a discovery
sanction be denied without prejudice, ordered Mr. Haggins to
prepare and serve responses to the Defendants' written
discovery within 21 days after receiving a copy of the Order,
and warned Mr. Haggins that failure to completely respond to
the Defendants' written discovery requests would result
in dismissal of his case. Order, ECF No. 110.
October 10, 2017, the Defendants filed a Second Motion to
Dismiss as Discovery Sanction arguing that Mr. Haggins did
not respond to their discovery requests in compliance with
the September 12th Order. Defs.' Second Mot., ECF No.
111; Defs.' Mem., ECF No. 112. Defendants represent that
Mr. Haggins sent them a letter on September 29, 2017, asking
for another copy of Defendants' discovery requests, but
he still had not responded to the discovery requests after
they sent him another copy on October 2nd. Aff. of Robert
Roche (Oct. 10, 2017) ¶ 2, ECF No. 113.
anticipating that the Defendants would make such a motion, on
October 5, 2017, Mr. Haggins prepared a Declaration and
drafted a letter to the undersigned explaining the reasons he
has had difficulty meeting the 21-day deadline in the
District Court's September 12, 2017 Order. Decl. of
Dejuan Haggins (Oct. 5, 2017), ECF No. 115; Letter from
Dejuan Haggins to Menendez, M.J. (Oct. 5, 2017), ECF No. 116.
In Mr. Haggins explains that he does not have regular access
to copies of the interrogatories and document requests for
which a response is required because they are kept in a
“property room” at the USP-Terre Haute facility
where he is confined. Although he received a copy of the
District Court's September 12, 2017 Order on September
18, 2017, he states that prison officials had not allowed him
access to his property so that he could prepare a response to
the discovery in time to meet the Court's 21-day
deadline. Mr. Haggins reached out to Defendants' counsel
to request an additional copy of the discovery be mailed to
him, but as of October 5, 2017, he had not received a
response. He also states that he will promptly prepare a
response to the Defendants' discovery requests if he
receives an additional copy.
Defendants filed a letter on October 11, 2017, arguing that
the Court should reject Mr. Haggins' position. Defs.'
Letter, ECF No. 117. Having reviewed the parties'
submissions and based on the entire history of this
litigation, the Court concludes that the Defendants have not
shown that dismissal is an appropriate sanction here.
the Defendants claim that Mr. Haggins is incorrect that they
did not provide an additional copy of the discovery requests,
which they sent on October 2, 2017. Defs.' Letter at 1.
The Court finds this minute dispute insufficient to support
dismissal. It is obvious that Mr. Haggins had simply not
received the copy sent by the Defendants when he drafted his
letter and declaration on October 5th. Perhaps the Defendants
did not account for the delay that it takes items to travel
through the mail, particularly to a federal prisoner.
next assert that Mr. Haggins has already been provided
multiple copies of their discovery requests over the course
of this litigation, suggesting that the Court should
disregard his statements that he has been unable to prepare a
response within the period permitted by the September 12th
Order. See Id. at 1-2. However, the fact that
Defendants have sent Mr. Haggins several copies of their
discovery requests over the course of the litigation does not
resolve the latest issue that has arisen, namely that he
cannot access those previous copies. In fact, the record
contains very little support for the Defendants' implicit
suggestion that Mr. Haggins has willfully disobeyed the
September 12th Order. Indeed, because he has not had access
to any of his property for some period of time, it appears he
could not have complied with the September 12th Order's
21-day deadline no matter how many copies of the discovery
requests are in the property room at USP-Terre Haute.
Defendants' argument does not even address this
information provided by Mr. Haggins. Hopefully, by now, Mr.
Haggins has been given access to the items in the property
room at USP-Terre Haute and has begun or even finished
preparing his answers.
Defendants also assert that Mr. Haggins should not be given
leniency because he is an “experienced litigant,
” and his case should be dismissed because it
“has been dragging on for almost three years now
because Plaintiff has refused to provide discovery.”
Id. at 2. The fact that Mr. Haggins has filed
several cases over the course of the last thirteen years does
nothing to establish that there has been any willful
violation of the September 12th Order. And, as the Court has
previously found, the lengthy delay in this case is not
solely attributable to Mr. Haggins' failure to provide
discovery. Indeed, though a scheduling order was initially
entered in March 2016, the Defendants did not serve discovery
until February 2017 because of a failure to account for
handling of the file after a paralegal and attorney left the
Ramsey County Attorney's Office.
on the foregoing, the Court finds that Mr. Haggins has
demonstrated good cause for an extension of the 21-day
deadline established by the District Court's September
12th Order. It remains the Court's goal to find a way, if
possible, to have this case resolved on the merits rather
than as a sanction for discovery violations. That said, Mr.
Haggins is not in any way relieved of his obligation to
provide, finally, answers to the Defendants' written
discovery. If the Defendants can demonstrate that Mr. Haggins
continues to willfully refuse to do so, a dispositive
sanction may be in order. But at the moment any prejudice to
the Defendants can be cured if Mr. Haggins can simply provide
them with answers to discovery. Assuming that Mr. Haggins
has, by now, received the Defendants' latest copy of
discovery requests, he should be able to do so shortly.
reasons stated above, IT IS HEREBY
RECOMMENDED that the Defendants' Second Motion
to Dismiss as Discovery Sanction, ECF No.
111, be DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
By separate Order, the Court has set also a revised schedule.
Objections: This Report and Recommendation is not an
order or judgment of the District Court and is therefore not