United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 10, 2017, Jason Boudreau, a federal inmate currently
confined at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central
Falls, Rhode Island, filed a civil rights complaint pro
se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the town of
Branford, Connecticut, the Branford Police Department
(“BPD”), five members of the BPD, and four
members of the United States Department of Homeland Security
(“DHS”) for using excessive force during his
arrest, in violation of his Fourth Amendment protection
against unreasonable seizures. He also raised several
state-law tort claims against the defendants, including
assault, battery, and intentional and negligent infliction of
emotional distress. All claims against the town of Branford
and the BPD and all state-law tort claims were dismissed.
Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 19 at 13; Stipulation of
Dismissal, Doc. No. 39; Ruling on Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. No.
50. The only remaining claim in this case is a Fourth
Amendment claim of excessive force against the four DHS
officers, Doug Smith, James Bentz, David Riccio, and Brendan
Cullen, based on their decision to permit a police canine
named “Joker” to approach Boudreau while he was
handcuffed and detained, after which Joker bit Boudreau on
the leg. See Ruling on Mot. to Dismiss at 15.
has filed the following motions, among others, which are
Motions to Determine the Sufficiency of Defendant Smith's
Answers or Objections (“Mot. to Determine
Sufficiency”), Doc. Nos. 62, 71
Motion to Compel the Production of Documents from Defendant
Cullen, (“Mot. to Compel”) Doc. No. 66
Motion for Service of Subpoena, Doc. No. 69
Motion for Appointment of Counsel, Doc. No. 63
Motion to Extend Discovery Deadlines, Doc. No. 64
Motion for Extension of Time to Respond to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 78
address each motion in turn.
Motion to Determine the Sufficiency (Doc. Nos. 62,
first motion (doc. no. 62) challenges Smith's responses
to his written requests for admissions that he sent in early
December 2018. Boudreau contends that Smith's responses
and objections to his requests are insufficient and/or
unjustified and seeks an order compelling Smith to respond to
the merits of the written requests and/or award monetary
relief for incurred expenses. Smith has not responded to
Boudreau's motions. For the following reasons,
Boudreau's motions (doc. no. 62, 71) are GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part.
for Admissions are not discovery tools in the traditional
sense. Brodeur v. McNamee, 2005 WL 1774033, at *2
(N.D.N.Y. July 27, 2005). “While discovery mechanisms
such as requests for document production, interrogatories,
and depositions typically seek to uncover information for use
in pursuing or defending against a litigated claim, requests
for admissions serve the distinctly different purpose of
assisting the parties and the court to narrow the factual
issues to be presented for determination in connection with
such a claim, either on motion or at trial.”
Id. The party requesting the admission “bears
the burden of setting forth its requests simply, directly,
not vaguely or ambiguously, and in such a manner that they
can be answered with a simple admit or deny without
explanation, and in certain instances, permit a qualification
or explanation for purposes for clarification.”
Henry v. Champlain Enters., Inc., 212 F.R.D. 73, 77
Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(6) permits the requesting
party, in this case Boudreau, to move for a determination of
the sufficiency of an answer or objection to a request for an
admission. “Unless the court finds an objection
justified, it must order that an answer be served. On finding
that an answer does not comply with this rule, the court may
order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended
answer be served.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(6). “When
assessing the sufficiency of a party's responses, a court
considers whether the response meets the substance of the
request and whether any qualifications are demanded by, and
made in, good faith.” Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
Co., 2009 WL 1457142, at *5 (S.D.N.Y. May 26, 2009);
see also, e.g., Thalheim v. Eberheim, 124 F.R.D. 34,
35 (D. Conn. 1988). “On a Rule 36(a)(6) motion,
‘[t]he burden is on the objecting party to persuade the
court that there is a justification for the
objection.'” Freydl v. Meringolo, 2011 WL
2566079, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 16, 2011) (quoting 8B Charles
Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2263 (3d ed. 2010)).
objects to several of Boudreau's written requests for
admissions because they seek information that is either
irrelevant to the sole remaining constitutional claim and/or
beyond the scope of Smith's personal involvement in the
case. See Def. Douglas Smith's Resp. to
Pl.'s First Request for Admis., Doc. No. 62, 16-31.
Boudreau contends that Smith's objections are
first challenges Smith's responses to the following
requests regarding the tracking of his cell phone on December
Request No. 1: Admit that anyone, who is employed by
the [DHS], pinged [Boudreau's] cell phone GPS location at
any time on December 29, 2015.
Request No. 2: Admit that on December 29, 2015,
between the hours of 6:00pm and 11:00pm, that you received
[Boudreau's] cell phone GPS location from the Rhode
Island State Police via your cell phone.
Request No. 3: Admit that on December 29, 2015,
between the hours of 4:00pm and 11:00pm, that you received
[Boudreau's] cell phone GPS location from James Bentz.
Request No. 5: Admit that you have ever pinged the
GPS location of an individual for a violation of Title 18
U.S.C.S. [§] 2252 OR [§] 2252A, other than
Request No. 7: Admit that the [DHS] has policies
and/or procedures for tracking [an] individual's cell
phone GPS location.
Mots. to Determine Sufficiency, Doc. No. 62 at 3-5, Doc. No.
71 at 3-5. Smith gave the following response to each of these
requests: “See Objections above. This request is not
relevant to the sole remaining issue in this
litigation.” Id. Additionally, with respect to
Request Number 7, Smith contends that Boudreau is making
“a general discovery request to the [DHS], which is not
a party to this litigation . . . .” Id.
Boudreau contends that those are “straightforward
factual questions that [Smith] does not answer, ” and
the information is relevant to the issue of why the
defendants continued to use a canine to track Boudreau when
his GPS location had already been known. Id.
on my review, I find that those requests for admissions at
issue seek irrelevant information. The sole remaining claim
in this case is that the DHS defendants failed to intervene
when BPD officers permitted their canine to approach Boudreau
after he was handcuffed and detained. See Ruling on
Mot. to Amend at 15-16. Smith's knowledge of, and/or
involvement in, the tracking of Boudreau through the use of
his cell phone before Boudreau was detained at the pool hall
is not relevant to the ultimate issue whether excessive force
was applied. Therefore, Boudreau's request for more
direct responses to those statements (requests 1, 2, 3, 5, 7)
next challenges Smith's response to requests for
admissions regarding the apprehension of “suicidal
individuals.” These include the following:
Request No. 6: Admit that you have received
training, at any time, in apprehending suicidal individuals.
Request No. 9: Admit that the [DHS] has policies
and/or procedures for apprehending suicidal individuals.
to Determine Sufficiency, Doc. No. 62 at 4-5, Doc. No. 71 at
4-5. Again, Smith objected to those requests, contending that
they seek irrelevant information. Id. I agree.
Whether Boudreau was suicidal at the time of the dog bite has
no bearing on whether the defendants subjected him to
excessive force or failed to intervene to prevent the use of
such force. Therefore, Boudreau's motion for more direct
responses to those requests (nos. 6, 9) is
also challenges Smith's responses to requests regarding
the use of canines to “track” suspects. He issued
the following requests for admissions to Smith:
Request No. 8: Admit that the [DHS] has policies
and/or procedures for tracking individuals with a canine.
Request No. 10: Admit that you have ever tracked the
location of an individual wanted for violations of Title 18
USCS [§] 2252 OR [§] 2252A with a canine, other
Request No. 11: Admit that you have ever been
involved with tracking an individual with a law enforcement
canine, other than [Boudreau].
Request No. 12: Admit that [Joker] bit any of the
individuals tracked, other than [Boudreau].
Request No. 15: Admit that you have ever requested
the use of a police canine in tracking an individual while
you have been employed by [DHS], other than the tracking of
Request No. 24: Admit that you have ever witnessed a
police canine bite an individual, other ...