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Brooks-Albrechtsen v. Mitchell

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 7, 2016

MARK A. BROOKS-ALBRECHTSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
MITCHELL Officer, in his individual and official capacity as a police officer for the Indianapolis Metro. Police Dep't., Department of Public Safety, Defendant.

          ORDER ON OBJECTION

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge United States District Court

         This action stems from a forty-second traffic encounter between pro se Plaintiff Mark A. Brooks-Albrechtsen and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Mitchell. After that encounter, Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen sued Officer Mitchell in his individual capacity pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. [Filing No. 2.] Presently pending before the Court is Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's Objection to the Magistrate Judge's Order denying his Motion for Sanctions.[1] [Filing No. 55 (objecting to Filing No. 54).] For the reasons that follow, the Court denies Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's Objection. [Filing No. 55.]

         I.

         Standard of Review

         A district judge “may designate a magistrate judge to hear and determine any pretrial matter pending before the court, ” with certain exceptions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 72 (providing that a pretrial, non-dispositive matter may be referred to the assigned magistrate judge for decision). Any timely objections to the magistrate judge's order will be considered, and the Court will “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 72(a). Under the clear error standard, the Court will not reverse the decision unless it is “left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Kanter v. C.I.R., 590 F.3d 410, 417 (7th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).

         II.

         Relevant Background

         This action was initiated on November 19, 2015.[2] [Filing No. 2.] On February 2, 2016, Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen moved for summary judgment in his favor. [Filing No. 13.] On February 8, 2016, Officer Mitchell moved for an extension of time until June 1, 2016 to file his response brief. [Filing No. 17.] As support for that request, Officer Mitchell stated that he “did not anticipate Plaintiff's summary judgment at this early point in the litigation before the parties had their initial pretrial conference, before a case management plan had been entered, and before any discovery had been conducted.” [Filing No. 17 at 2.] Officer Mitchell requested some time to conduct discovery and obtain affidavits that he anticipated would be used in opposing Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's summary judgment request. [Filing No. 17 at 2.] Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen filed an objection in response to Officer Mitchell's extension request, contending that discovery was unnecessary. [Filing No. 18.]

         On February 9, 2016, the Magistrate Judge entered a Case Management Plan and granted Officer Mitchell's extension request in part. [Filing No. 19 at 10.] Specifically, the Magistrate Judge granted Officer Mitchell until April 6, 2016 to file his summary judgment response, noting that while some discovery was likely needed in light of Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's early summary judgment motion, Officer Mitchell's proposed scope of discovery exceeded what was necessary to respond. [Filing No. 19 at 10.] The Magistrate Judge concluded that if Officer Mitchell “needs additional time to conduct discovery to file his own summary judgment motion, Defendant can file that motion at a later date.” [Filing No. 19 at 10.]

         The Magistrate Judge held a telephonic conference on March 24, 2016, and enlarged the deadline for Officer Mitchell to respond to the pending summary judgment motion until May 13, 2016. [Filing No. 21.] On May 9, 2016, Officer Mitchell filed a Second Motion for Extension of Time to Respond to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, requesting until June 3, 2016 to file his response brief because although discovery had been exchanged, Officer Mitchell's counsel had multiple deadlines in other cases that had interfered with preparing the response brief. [Filing No. 25.] Officer Mitchell indicated that Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen objected to the request, [Filing No. 25], but the Court granted the extension and ordered Officer Mitchell to file his response brief by June 3, 2016, [Filing No. 26.]

         On June 3, 2016, Officer Mitchell responded to Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's Motion for Summary Judgment and filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's claim. [Filing No. 28; Filing No. 29.]

         On July 5, 2016, Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen filed a Motion for Sanctions, asking for sanctions against defense counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1927 “due to their unreasonable and vexatious filings that have multiplied the proceedings.” [Filing No. 39 at 1.] Specifically, Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen contends although he moved for summary judgment “on a relatively simple case, ” Officer Mitchell's extension requests resulted in an unreasonable delay by making the “typical 14-day responsive window . . . a 121-day delay.” [Filing No. 39 at 3.] Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen contends that the extension requests were unnecessary and unwarranted and that Officer Mitchell's subsequent objection to a requested extension by Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen “has unduly delayed the course of action through the courts.”[3] [Filing No. 39 at 4.] Officer Mitchell opposed Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's sanctions request. [Filing No. 45.]

         On August 4, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued the following marginal entry on Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen's Motion for Sanctions: “Motion denied. The complained of conduct does not rise anywhere near sanctionable conduct under 28 U.S.C. § 1927. Motions such as these waste the Court's time, and are more troublesome than the conduct of which Plaintiff complains.” [Filing No. 54.] On August 10, 2016, Mr. Brooks-Albrechtsen filed an Objection to the Magistrate ...


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