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Ramos v. Dep't of Correction

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 3, 2017

JOSE ERIC RAMOS, Plaintiff,
v.
DEP'T OF CORRECTION, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Jose Eric Ramos, is currently confined at MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut (“MacDougall-Walker”). He initiated this action by filing a civil rights complaint asserting claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, (“RLUIPA”), and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. against the Department of Correction, Reverend Bruno, Counselor Arcouette, and John Doe Commissioner of the Department of Correction. Compl., ECF No. 1.

         On February 24, 2016, the Court dismissed all claims for monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(2) and all other claims against the Department of Correction and Counselor Arcouette under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). See Initial Review Order, ECF No. 9. The Court concluded that Mr. Ramos's First Amendment free exercise claim, his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim, and his RLUIPA claim would proceed against the Commissioner of Correction and Reverend Bruno in their individual and official capacities. Id. at 7.

         Mr. Ramos has filed two motions for an order directing Defendants to answer the complaint, a motion to accept and preserve discovery, three motions for default, two motions for production of documents, a motion to appoint counsel, and a motion to disqualify Defendants' counsel. For the reasons set forth below, all of the motions are DENIED, with the exception of the motion to appoint counsel, which is GRANTED for the limited purpose of providing Mr. Ramos appointed counsel at the upcoming settlement conference.

         I. Motion for Response to Service [ECF No. 21]

         In a motion dated April 14, 2016, Mr. Ramos asks the Court to order Defendants to respond to the complaint. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on June 9, 2016. Accordingly, Mr. Ramos's motion is denied as moot.

         II. Motion for Court to Accept and Preserve Discovery [ECF No. 23]

         In another motion docketed on April 26, 2016, Mr. Ramos asks the Court to accept and preserve the documents attached to his motion as discovery documents. By attaching the documents to the motion, the documents have, in effect, been accepted by and filed with the Court. Thus, the motion is denied to the extent that it seeks an order that his documents be accepted.

         In support of his request that the Court preserve the documents, he claims that he “has had issues in the past with legal papers being stolen by Correction Officers.” Mot., ECF No. 23, 1. At the time of the filing of the motion, Mr. Ramos was confined at Corrigan-Radgwoski Correctional Institution (“Corrigan”). Mr. Ramos adds that he did not have problems with theft at Corrigan, but filed the motion “out of precaution in the event that [he] be transferred.” Id. at 1. Mr. Ramos is currently confined at MacDougall-Walker. He did not mention any problems with officers at MacDougall-Walker in his motion. See id.

         The Court notes that the documents attached to the motion have been submitted as attachments to motions and pleadings that have been filed with the Court since the filing of the motion to accept and preserve. See ECF Nos. 26, 36, 44. Thus, they are now preserved as part of the Court record. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the documents and exhibits have been or will be destroyed by prison officials at MacDougall-Walker. For the reasons set forth above, the motion to preserve and accept discovery is denied in all respects.

         III. Motion for Default [ECF No. 33]

         In a motion docketed on June 17, 2016, Mr. Ramos claims that Defendants are in default for failure to respond to the complaint. See Mot. for Default entry 55(a), ECF No. 33. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on June 9, 2016. See Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 29. Because Defendants are not in default for failure to plead, the motion is denied. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55 (a) (allowing for default “when a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend.”).

         Mr. Ramos also claims that, on an unidentified date, he served interrogatories and a request for production of documents on counsel for Defendants. Mot. for Default, 1. On June 1, 2016, counsel for Defendants indicated that he would need an extension of time to respond to the discovery requests. Id. at 2. Mr. Ramos agreed to the extension of time. On June 8, 2016, counsel for Defendants served objections to the interrogatories and request for production of documents on Mr. Ramos. Id. Mr. Ramos claims that counsel breached a verbal agreement to respond to the discovery requests and not to object to the requests. Id.

         The docket reflects no extension of time to respond to discovery requests having been filed by Defendants. Furthermore, counsel for Defendants did not violate Rules 33 and 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by objecting to the interrogatories and request for production of documents. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2)-(4); 34(b)(2)(A)-(C). Accordingly, the motion for default is denied to the ...


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