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Dove v. Quality Correctional Care

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

September 12, 2018

JULIAN DOVE, Plaintiff,
v.
QUALITY CORRECTIONAL CARE, STEUBEN COUNTY SHERIFF TIM R. TROYER, DANNY THOMAS, JASON HUFNAGLE, NICOLE HUFNAGLE, and ABIGAIL MCLATCHER, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendants Danny Thomas, Jason Hufnagle, Nicole Hufnagle, Abigail McLatcher, and Steuben County Sheriff Tim R. Troyer, seek dismissal of the Plaintiff's claims in accordance with 37(b)(2) and 41(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure as a sanction for the Plaintiff's repeated failure to comply with Court-ordered discovery deadlines, failure to comply with Court Orders, and failure to prosecute the Plaintiff's claim for more than six months.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 7, 2017, the Plaintiff, Julian Dove, filed his Complaint [ECF No. 1] and Motion to Proceed in Forma Pauperis [ECF No. 2] against the Defendants Quality Correctional Care and Steuben County Sheriff Tim R. Troyer, alleging denial of adequate medical care during his time as a prisoner at the Steuben County Jail. The Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants actions violated his federally protected right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth and/or Fourteenth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Plaintiff also asserted state law tort claims. On September 18, 2017, the Court granted the Plaintiff's request to proceed without the prepayment of cost and fees [ECF No. 5].

         On November 17, 2017 and November 21, 201, Defendants Troyer and Quality Correctional Care answered the Complaint [ECF Nos. 14, 17]. On January 10, 2018, the Court conducted a Rule 16 Preliminary Pretrial Conference [ECF No. 18]. The Court set the discovery deadline as September 28, 2018 [ECF No. 21].

         Subsequently, on April 4, 2018, the Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint which included additional Defendants Jason Hufnagle, Nicole Hufnagle, Abigail McLatcher, and Danny Thomas [ECF No. 26]. These Defendants, in addition to Troyer, filed an answer to the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on April 10, 2018 [ECF No. 29].

         On January 22, 2018, Defendants served their First Set of Interrogatories to Plaintiff and First Request of Production of Documents and Records to Plaintiff. (Defs. Suppl. Mot. to Compel Disc. ¶ 4, ECF No. 38). On May 4, 2018, the Plaintiff served Plaintiff's Responses to Defendants First Set of Interrogatories and Responses to Defendants' first Request for Production of Documents. (Id. ¶5.) The Plaintiff did not sign either response. (Id.) On May 9, 2018, Defendant served a Notice of Deposition upon Plaintiff's counsel to hold the deposition of the Plaintiff on May 31, 2018. (Id. ¶7.) On May 31, 2018, counsel for the Defendants appeared for the deposition, but the Plaintiff did not appear. (Id.¶ 8.)

         On June 7, 2018, Defendants Jason and Nicole Hufnagle, Abigail McLatcher, Danny Thomas, and Tim Troyer filed a Supplemental Motion to Compel Discovery [ECF No. 38]. The Defendants stated that the failure of the Plaintiff to “properly and fully” respond to the Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents and to appear for his deposition rendered them unable to investigate the Plaintiff's claims and prepare their defense.

         On June 12, 2018, the Court granted the Plaintiff's counsel's Motion to Withdraw as Attorney [ECF No. 42]. On June 26, 2018, the Court unsuccessfully attempted to contact the Plaintiff for the scheduled telephonic Status Conference on the issue of his attorney representation. [ECF No. 44]. The Plaintiff did not appear and the Court assumed that the Plaintiff intended to proceed pro se.

         On July 19, 2018, the Court ordered the Plaintiff to serve on Defendants, on or before August 3, 2018, his response to Defendants' written discovery requests and to appear for a deposition on a date within thirty days [ECF No. 46]. The Court warned the Plaintiff in its Order that failure to “serve his responses by the deadline, to appear for his deposition, or to otherwise comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or Court Orders may lead to this case being dismissed with prejudice under either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 or 41.” (Order Granting Defs Mot. to Compel Disc.at 2.) As of the date of this Order, the Plaintiff has not yet responded to the Defendants' written discovery requests.

         On July 24, 2018, the Defendants served an Amended Notice of Deposition on the Plaintiff to appear for a deposition on August 7, 2018. (Defs. Mot. for Sanction and Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1.) The Plaintiff did not appear for his deposition on that date.

         On August 9, 2018, the Defendants filed a Motion for Sanctions and to Dismiss [ECF No. 47] arguing that the Plaintiff has not prosecuted his claim in the past six months, citing the Plaintiff's continued failure to comply with discovery, the Orders of the Court, and failure to contact counsel for the Defendants upon the withdrawal of his attorney. As of the date of this Order, the Plaintiff has not responded to the Defendants' Motion.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Defendants Thomas, J. Hufnagle, N. Hufnagle, ...


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