United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO FILE
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
case involves a claim by plaintiff Shameka Hackman that she
was harassed and beaten by numerous officers of the police
department in East Hartford, Connecticut. The remaining
defendants are the Town of East Hartford, the East Hartford
Police Department, and four East Hartford police officers:
Thomas Castagna, Nicholas Palladino, Peter Vanek, and Rebecca
before me are two motions. First, the individual defendant
officers have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) for
judgment on the pleadings. Second, Hackman has moved to file
an amended complaint. I will grant the individual
defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings,
principally in light of my prior discovery sanctions order
that forecloses Hackman from establishing the personal
involvement of any of these defendants. I will otherwise deny
Hackman's motion to file an amended complaint against
these individual defendants but will allow her to file an
amended complaint against the Town of East Hartford.
initially filed this lawsuit in Connecticut state court
before it was removed by the defendants to this Court. Doc.
#1. On September 28, 2017, I entered a general scheduling
order to provide for the completion of discovery by the end
of June 2018. Doc. #16. I later modified this order in early
April 2018 after a status conference with counsel to provide
for the completion of discovery by the end of August 2018.
Doc. #18. Although there is no official transcript of this
teleconference, my notes reflect that the modification to the
scheduling order was prompted by the failure of Hackman to
have responded to discovery served by defendants on her and
for which responses had been due in February 2018.
2018, defendants moved to stay the proceedings in light of
the sudden death of Hackman's counsel who had passed away
on April 18, 2018. Doc. #21. I granted this motion and
advised Hackman that she must promptly retain new counsel by
August 20, 2018, or file a statement with the Court that she
intends to represent herself in this action. Doc. #22.
August 20, 2018, attorney Wesley Spears filed a notice of
appearance for Hackman. Doc. #23. Attorney Spears has been a
member of the Connecticut bar for more than 30
years. A query of the Court's CMECF docketing
system reflects that he has appeared in more than 40 federal
cases in the District of Connecticut. In many of these cases
he is listed as plaintiff's counsel for constitutional
claims against municipalities and police officers brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
September 21, 2018, I convened an in-person status conference
to discuss scheduling in light of the appearance of new
counsel on Hackman's behalf. At that conference and after
consultation with counsel, I entered a new scheduling order
for the parties to complete discovery within four more months
by January 21, 2019. Doc. #30. Although there is no official
transcript from this conference, my notes reflect that I
reminded all counsel that it was very important to be timely
with discovery responses, after counsel for defendants
represented without contradiction that Hackman had not served
any discovery at all on the defendants nor even furnished
initial disclosures as required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1).
entered an order at this hearing and again on the docket to
require that any responses to pending discovery requests must
be served within 21 days by October 12, 2018. Doc. #30. I
also advised the parties that I would be unlikely to grant a
future request for an extension of time absent extraordinary
and unforeseeable circumstances. Ibid.
November 8, 2018, counsel contacted chambers to advise of a
discovery dispute: Hackman's alleged failure to comply
with the Court's discovery order. I entered a docket
order instructing counsel for both sides to file simultaneous
letter briefs on the issue no later than November 26, 2018
and then to file any responses to each other's letter
briefs by November 27, 2018. I scheduled a discovery
teleconference to discuss the dispute for November 28, 2018.
November 26, 2018, counsel for defendants filed a letter
brief. Doc. #36. The brief described at length how each of
the defendants had served discovery on Hackman in January
2018 but that Hackman had failed to respond to any of the
discovery requests or to seek an extension of time to do so.
Id. at 1. The brief further advised that Hackman had
failed to respond to all pending discovery by October 12,
2018, as the Court had ordered Hackman to do at the status
conference of September 21, 2018. Id. at 2.
brief went on to describe correspondence between defense
counsel and Attorney Spears during October and November in
which defense counsel sought-but did not receive- full
responses to requested discovery. Id. at 3. For
example, after Attorney Spears furnished “unverified
‘proposed answers'” for two of the
defendants, defendants' counsel advised him that
“‘proposed' answers were not
acceptable.” Id. at 3. “In return,
Attorney Spears directed the undersigned [defendants'
counsel] to file a motion with the Court and declined to make
himself available to discuss via telephone.”
letter brief described how the discovery responses still
remained incomplete as to all the remaining defendants: (1)
Hackman had failed to provide any responses to the
interrogatories and requests for production served by the
Town of East Hartford, (2) Hackman had failed to provide
verified responses to the interrogatories and requests for
production served by defendant Wise, and (3) Hackman had
failed to provide verified revised responses to the discovery
requests of defendants Castagna, Palladino, and Vanek (to
replace initial responses that failed to identify any
personal involvement by these defendants). Id. at 4.
light of these failures to produce discovery, defendants
sought an order broadly precluding Hackman from introducing
evidence relating to the discovery requests to which she had
failed to respond. Id. at 4-5. As defendants'
counsel noted, “this is not a case where both parties
have meritorious arguments regarding a discovery dispute,
” but “[t]o the contrary, the ...