United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
CURTIS L. WESTBROOK, Plaintiff,
BRIDGES COMMUNITY SERVICES, Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION TO MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S ORDER DENYING SANCTIONS AND REQUEST FOR
WALTON PRATT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on pro se Plaintiff
Curtis Westbrook's (“Westbrook”) Objection to
the Magistrate Judges Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion
for Sanctions and Request for Interlocutory Appeal. (Dkt.
81). Westbrook challenges the Magistrate Judge's May 3,
2018 decision to deny sanctions in his favor against
Defendant Bridges Community Services, Inc.
(“Bridges”). (Dkt. 79). For the reasons stated
below, the Court overrules Westbrook's
appeal of the Magistrate Judge's order and
denies his request for an interlocutory
district court may refer for decision a non-dispositive
pretrial motion to a magistrate judge under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 72(a). Rule 72(a) provides: When a pretrial
matter not dispositive of a party's claim or defense is
referred to a magistrate judge to hear and decide, the
magistrate judge must promptly conduct the required
proceedings and, when appropriate, issue a written order
stating the decision. A party may serve and file objections
to the order within 14 days after being served with a copy. A
party may not assign as error a defect in the order not
timely objected to. The district judge in the case must
consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part
of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law.
reviewing objections to a magistrate judge's order, the
district court will modify or set aside the order only if it
is clearly erroneous or contrary to law. The clear error
standard is highly differential, permitting reversal only
when the district court “is left with the definite and
firm conviction that a mistake has been made.”
Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d
926, 943 (7th Cir. 1997). “An order is contrary to law
when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case
law, or rules of procedure.” Coley v. Landrum,
2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13377, at *3 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 4, 2016)
(citation and quotation marks omitted).
legal standard for certifying an order for interlocutory
appeal is set out in statute:
When a district judge, in making in a civil action an order
not otherwise appealable under this section, shall be of the
opinion that such order involves a controlling question of
law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of
opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may
materially advance the ultimate termination of the
litigation, he shall so state in writing in such order.
28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).
There are four statutory criteria for the grant of a section
1292(b) petition to guide the district court: there must be a
question of law, it must be controlling, it
must be contestable, and its resolution must promise
to speed up the litigation. There is also a
nonstatutory requirement: the petition must be filed in the
district court within a after the order sought to be
Ahrenholz v. Bd. of Trs., 219 F.3d 674, 675 (7th
proper method to challenge a non-dispositive order is by
filing an objection or appeal of the Magistrate Judge's
decision under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a).
Although captioned in part as seeking an interlocutory
appeal, Westbrook fails to discuss any of the four statutory
criteria for an interlocutory appeal. Accordingly, his
request for interlocutory appeal is denied.
The Court will consider only Westbrook's Rule 72
moved for sanctions alleging that Bridges did not follow the
court's discovery instructions when it submitted
“inaccurate, misleading, limited, duplicated and
obviously missing answers” to interrogatories, and that
Bridges made “misrepresentations” about the
reasons for its late disclosures. (Dkt. 72 at 1-2.) The
Magistrate Judge found that a Rule 37(b)(2) sanction was not
appropriate because there was an insufficient showing that
Bridges did not comply with the Court's February 2, 2018
discovery order. She found that Bridge's supplemental
answers to the interrogatories were adequate, except that
some additional information was required.
Magistrate Judge rejected Westbrook's argument that
Bridges has engaged in a pattern of misconduct and determined
that a sanction of default would be disproportionate to the
conduct complained of. On May 3, 2018 the Magistrate Judge
denied Westbrook's motion for sanctions, except that she
ordered Bridges to supplement its answer to Interrogatory 26
within 10 days of the date of her entry. Bridges was ordered
to provide the SCSEP (Senior Community Service Employment
Program) enrollment dates for each participant in ...