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Martin v. Jones

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

June 16, 2015

NICK J. MARTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE JONES, et al., Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN COLLINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

On June 11, 2015, this Court conducted a hearing on pro se Plaintiff’s two pending motions to compel (DE 53, 77), which are fully briefed (DE 72-73, 82-83, 90-91), asking that the Court order Defendants to fully answer his “First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents” and his “Supplemental Discovery Requests.” (DE 92). The Court also considered the Rule 16(b) deadlines set at the scheduling conference on August 28, 2014. (DE 40). In addition, the Court learned through Defendants’ filing on the day of the hearing that Defendant Richard England is presently subject to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding. (DE 90 at 2, 3).

For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff’s motions to compel will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART. Before turning to those motions, however, the Court will address the Rule 16(b) deadlines and the effect of England’s bankruptcy filing.

A. Automatic Stay as to Defendant England

Defendants disclose in their discovery responses that England is presently subject to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding administered by the Northern District of Indiana Bankruptcy Court, No. 13-10240, filed on February 11, 2013. (DE 90 at 2, 3). A Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition automatically stays “the commencement or continuation . . . of a judicial, administrative, or other action or proceeding against the debtor that was or could have been commenced before the commencement of the [bankruptcy] case . . ., or to recover a claim against the debtor that arose before the commencement of the [bankruptcy] case . . . .” 11 U.S.C. § 362(a)(1).

Therefore, this case is now automatically STAYED with respect to England until the termination of his bankruptcy case. However, this case will continue against the other Defendants, as the stay does not apply to non-bankrupt co-defendants. See 11 U.S.C. §§ 362(a)(1), 1301(a); Pitts v. Unarco Indus. Inc., 698 F.2d 313, 314 (7th Cir. 1983) (concluding the language of § 362(a) “unambiguously states that the stay operates only ‘against the debtor’”); Parmeley v. Fleetwood Homes, Inc., No. 3:12-cv-199, 2012 WL 1946842, at *2 (S.D. Ill. May 29, 2012) (stating that the extension of the automatic stay in Chapter 13 is “extremely limited” in that it “applies only to co-debtors rather than . . . co-defendants” (citing Lynch v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 710 F.2d 1194, 1198 (6th Cir. 1983))).

B. Rule 16(b) Deadlines

At the hearing, after acknowledging that the discovery period has now closed, the Court addressed the filing of dispositive motions.

In a nutshell, Plaintiff asserts that he filed this suit to recover unpaid wages for work he performed for Defendants from October 2008 through 2012. Plaintiff, who is black, further claims under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 that Defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his race by paying him sporadically and at less than the promised rate of $50 per hour, while they paid a white employee on a consistent basis and at higher wage. He also contends under Title VII and § 1981 that Defendants retaliated against him in 2012 for filing a lawsuit against them in state court in 2010. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants defamed him through comments they made to the police and in state court. (DE 52).

As the Court has already observed in its Order dated March 27, 2014 (DE 14), Plaintiff’s claims under Title VII are likely not sustainable, as he represented that Defendants have less than the sufficient number of employees necessary to implicate the relevant statutes. In addition, his pleadings include a state court judgment in Defendants’ favor on his unpaid wage claim in December 2010; therefore, any claim for wages stemming from work prior to December 2010 may be barred by res judicata.

Accordingly, in an effort to streamline this case for trial, the Court EXTENDS the deadline for the filing of dispositive motions to July 13, 2015.

C. Motions to Compel

1. Plaintiff’s First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents

Turning to Plaintiff’s motions to compel, in his First Set of Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents, Plaintiff seeks: (a) all “bill records, lease[s] of property, owner of property, bank accounts, and property valu[e] as to what is own[ed]” from October 26, 2008, to present; (b) all employee records from October 26, 2008, to present; and (c) ...


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