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Fails v. Harbaugh

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

June 18, 2019



          Timothy J. Cavan United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendants' Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 Motion for Summary Judgment. See, (Doc. 42.) For the reasons discussed herein, the Court will grant Defendants' summary judgment motion.

         Also pending are three outstanding motions from Fails, (Docs. 35, 37 & 55), as well as Defendants' motion to modify. (Doc. 51.) Each will be addressed in turn.

         I. Fails' Outstanding Motions

         Fails filed a Motion for a Protective Order alleging that Defendants were attempting to "oppress, harass, cause undue burden and expense" upon Fails with their purportedly irrelevant interrogatories and production requests in violation of Fed.R.Civ.P. 26. (Doc. 35 at 2-3.) Defendants responded by alleging that Fails did not comply with the meet and confer requirements of Rule 26(c)(1), and further contended that the information sought was discoverable and relevant to the Fails' compensatory damages claim. (Doc. 40 at 2-3.) Fails did not reply.

         Fails also filed a motion to compel, seeking an order from this Court directing the Defendants to respond to Fails' Interrogatory No. 4. The interrogatory at issue apparently read:

Please describe in detail of all civil rights violations, constitutional rights violations, grievances, civil complaints, criminal complaints, disciplinary, etc., alleging any type of official misconduct, and/or similar claims as are alleged in this current 42 U.S.C. §1983, from the beginning of each of the named defendants in this 42 U.S.C. §1983 from the date of their chosen profession, including any state, local, or federal agencies.

(Doc. 37 at 2.) In response, Defendants again asserted Fails made no effort to comply with Rule 37(a)(1), which requires that a motion to compel "must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action." (Doc. 39 at 1-2.) Because Fails did not comply with the mandatory prerequisites of the Rule, Defendants request that the Court deny Fails' motion. Id. at 2. Fails did not reply.

         The Court finds that the Defendants have demonstrated that Fails did not comply with the meet and confer requirement of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure relative to discovery motions. This requirement is also incorporated into this Court's Local Rules, which provide: "[t]he court will deny any discovery motion unless the parties have conferred concerning all disputed issues before the motion is filed." L.R. 26.3(c). Accordingly, Fails' Motion for Protective Order and Motion to Compel will both be denied. Moreover, as set forth below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted on grounds unrelated to Fails' discovery disputes. Thus, at this juncture, both of Fails' motions are moot.

         Fails has also filed a motion requesting that this Court reconsider its prior denial of his motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 55.) While motions to reconsider are left to the discretion of the district court, Herbst v. Cook, 260 F.3d 1039, 1044 (9th Cir. 2001); Barber v. Hawaii, 42 F.3d 1185, 1198 (9th Cir. 1994), they are also generally disfavored. See, Northwest Acceptance Corp. v. Lynnwood Equipment, Inc., 841 F.2d 918, 925-26 (9th Cir. 1988). "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 770 F.2d 906, 909 (3rd Cir. 1985), cert, denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986). Disagreement with a Court's order is an insufficient basis for reconsideration, and such a motion should not be used to make new arguments or to ask the Court to rethink its prior analysis. See e.g., Above the Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannan Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 101 (E.D. Va. 1983) (holding that "Plaintiff improperly used the motion to reconsider to ask the Court to rethink what the Court had already thought through - rightly or wrongly.").

         Moreover, Local Rule 7.3 provides:

(a) Leave of Court Required. Before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all of the claims and the rights and liabilities of all the parties in a case, any party may make a motion before a judge requesting that the judge grant the party leave to file a motion for reconsideration of any interlocutory order made by that judge on any ground set forth in L.R. 7.3. (b)(1) or (2). No. party may file a motion for reconsideration without prior leave of court.
(b) Form and Content of Motion for Leave. A motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration must be limited to seven pages and must specifically meet at least one of the following two criteria:
(1)(A) the facts or applicable law are materially different from the fact or applicable law that the parties presented to the court before entry of the order for which reconsideration is sought, and (B) despite the exercise of reasonable diligence, the party applying for reconsideration did not know such fact or law before entry of the order; or
(2) new material facts emerged or a change of law occurred after entry of the order.
(c) Prohibition Against Repetition of Argument. No. motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration may repeat any oral or written argument made by the applying party before entry of the order. Violation of this restriction subjects the offending party to appropriate sanction.

         Fails' filing is not in compliance with the procedural requirements of the Local Rules. He did not file a motion for leave to file a motion for reconsideration. But even construing Fails' filing liberally and excusing his filing error, he has still violated the prohibition of L.R. 7.3(c) by merely repeating the same arguments made prior to entry of the order.

         Fails did not present any newly discovered evidence or material facts to the Court. Fails simply explains that he disagrees with this Court's analysis, and he reiterates his belief that the Defendants' general denial of his claims as set forth in their Answer is inadequate and should result in summary judgment in his favor. (Doc. 55 at 3-4.) Fails has provided no legitimate legal basis for this Court to reconsider its prior order denying him summary judgment. There has been no "mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect" on the part of the Court; no "newly discovered evidence"; no void judgment; and no change in law or manifest legal error. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b).

         In short, Fails is not entitled to relief from the Court's prior order. Fails is simply attempting to re-litigate issues the Court previously considered when denying his motion for summary judgment; such action is improper. Fails' Motion for Reconsideration will also be denied.

         II. Defendants' Motion to Modify

         Defendants have filed a Motion to Modify Statement of Undisputed Facts in which they seek to replace the unredacted Affidavit of Undersheriff Roos (Doc. 44-1 at 1-94), with an identical document containing necessary redactions. See generally, (Doc. 51.) While Fails apparently takes no issue with substituting the redacted affidavit, he seeks to have an additional document, "Exhibit A," added to the record. See generally, (Doc. 52.) Fails' filing is nonresponsive.

         By their motion, Defendants seek appropriate redactions to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 5.2. The Defendants' request is a reasonable and will be granted. The Clerk of Court will be directed to place Document 44-1 under seal. Defendants shall file Document 51-1 as a supplement to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts (Doc. 44).

         III. Background

         Plaintiff John Daniel Fails, Jr. was incarcerated at the Custer County Detention Center ("CCDC") in Miles City, Montana, from June 13, 2017, to August 1, 2017. Defendant Tony Harbaugh is the Sheriff of Custer County, Defendant Pat Roos is the Custer County Undersheriff, and Defendant Roland McGrath (identified as "Mr. Roland" in the complaint) is the Detention Sergeant of the CCDC. Defendant Kim Jerke is a registered nurse who provides medical services for inmates incarcerated at CCDC.

         Fails is a Type I diabetic. He alleges he received inappropriate care for his diabetes while incarcerated at CCDC. Fails alleges that as a result of Defendants' actions, his blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels, which resulted in two separate hospitalizations. Fails also claims that the inadequate care received at CCDC resulted in diabetic foot ulcers and bone infections, which required ongoing medical care. This care included weeks of antibiotics, installation of an intravenous PICC line, and amputation of the small toe on his right foot. Fails also asserts he was segregated in a holding cell as a form of punishment for his diabetes in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA").

         Fails claims constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and statutory violations under the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12132, thereby invoking the federal question jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         IV. Applicable Law - Summary Judgment Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact-finder to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id. "Disputes over irrelevant or unnecessary facts will not preclude a grant of summary judgment." 71 W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. The moving party can satisfy this burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the non-moving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322-23. If the moving party fails to discharge this initial burden, summary judgment must be denied, and the court need not consider the non-moving party's evidence. Adickes v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60(1970).

         If the moving party meets its initial responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue as to any material fact actually does exist. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In attempting to establish the existence of this factual dispute, the opposing party must "go beyond the pleadings and by 'the depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The opposing party cannot defeat summary judgment merely by demonstrating "that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586; Triton Energy Corp. v. Square D Co., 68 F.3d 1216, 1221 (9th Cir. 1995) ("The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position is not sufficient.") (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, however, the Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draws all justifiable inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; Betz v. Trainer Wortham & Co., Inc., 504 F.3d 1017, 1020-21 (9th Cir. 2007).

         Also, because Fails is proceeding pro se, the Court must construe his documents liberally and give them "the benefit of any doubt" with respect to Defendants' summary judgment motions. Frost v. Symington, 197 F.3d 348, 352 (9th Cir. 1999). See also Erickson v. Pardus 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007).

         V. Discussion

         A. Fails' Response/Verified Complaint/Sworn Statement

         To meet the requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, the Local Rules of this Court require that a party moving for summary judgment file a Statement of Undisputed Facts, setting forth each fact the party relies upon to support its motion, with pinpoint citations to the record. L.R. 56.1 (a). In turn, the "party opposing a motion for summary judgment must file a Statement of Disputed Facts simultaneously with and separately from the response brief." L.R. 56.1 (b). The Statement of Disputed Facts must address each of the moving parties' Statement of Undisputed Facts and state whether the fact is undisputed or disputed. If any fact is disputed, the opposing party must "pinpoint cite to a specific pleading, deposition, answer to interrogatory, admission or affidavit before the court to oppose each fact." L.R. ...

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