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Ratcliff v. City of Red Lodge

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 29, 2013

DWIGHT RATCLIFF, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF RED LODGE, DEPARTMENT OF POLICE, a Political Subdivision of the State of Montana, and Red Lodge Police Officer AL STUBER, Defendants.

ORDER

JEREMIAH C. LYNCH, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

This action has its genesis in a July 2, 2011, encounter between Plaintiff Dwight Ratcliff and Defendant Al Stuber in his capacity as a police officer with the City of Red Lodge, Montana. Ratcliff alleges Officer Stuber employed excessive force in effecting his arrest, causing him to suffer both physical and emotional injuries. Ratcliff advances a claim under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for violation of his federal constitutional rights and claims for relief under Montana constitutional, statutory, and common law.

The matter is presently before the Court upon the following two motions:

(1) Plaintiff Ratcliff's motion requesting leave to serve - beyond the deadline established by the Court's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 scheduling order - a Rule 26(a)(2)(B) report by an expert in law enforcement practices; and
(2) Defendants' motion requesting the Court to "strike" Ratcliff's Rule 26 Supplemental Disclosure pertaining to the opinions' of Ratcliff's medical treaters.

For the reasons detailed below, both motions are granted.

II. Background

The Court's Rule 16 scheduling order entered on December 11, 2012, established a deadline of May 3, 2013, for the disclosure of liability experts. Ratcliff - represented at the time by Garth S. McCarty - did not serve any expert witness disclosures by the May 3, 2013, deadline. The Defendants timely served a report by their retained law enforcement practices expert.

On May 17, 2013, Robert L. Stephens, Jr., entered his appearance for Ratcliff in substitution of Mr. McCarty.[1] Shortly thereafter, on June 7, 2013, Ratcliff filed a motion requesting leave to submit a Rule 26(a)(2)(B) report of his law enforcement practices expert. Appended to Ratcliff's motion was a document prepared by Ratcliff's counsel that summarized the opinions on law enforcement practices expert, John L. Sullivan, was expected to testify and stated that Sullivan's final report had not been completed. On June 9, 2013, Ratcliff filed Sullivan's final report.

Subsequently, on June 20, 2013, Ratcliff filed a document entitled "Plaintiff's Rule 26 Supplemental Disclosure". The document disclosed Ratcliff's treating medical personnel - physician assistant Douglas Whitehead and physician Bradley Fuller. It is important to note that the disclosure stated generally that these individuals would testify in conformity with their respective medical records pertaining to Ratcliff. As to Whitehead, the disclosure also said that he would express the opinion that the symptomology he observed on examination of Ratcliff was "consistent with the events giving rise to the Plaintiff's claims." As to Dr. Fuller, the disclosure stated he would express the opinion that "the incident of July 2, 2011, is more probable than not, the result of the interaction between Mr. Ratcliff and Officer Stuber on July 2, 2011." (Doc. 34, at 2).

On July 23, 2013 - a point in time after the Defendants filed their motion to strike - Ratcliff filed a second disclosure with respect to Dr. Fuller. (Doc. 41). The disclosure incorporated a letter from Dr. Fuller dated July 15, 2013, wherein he states, in effect, that Ratcliff's "underlying chronic medical condition" was exacerbated by the "extreme force" used by Stuber in effecting Ratcliff's arrest.

Against this backdrop, the Court turns to address the merits of the ...


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