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Boudreau v. Smith

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 22, 2019

JASON BOUDREAU, Plaintiff,
v.
SMITH, et al., Defendants.

          RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS

          Stefan R. Underhill, United States District Judge

         On April 10, 2017, the plaintiff, 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. All claims against the town of Branford, the BPD, and all BPD officers have since been 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 for excessive force against three of the four DHS officers, Doug Smith, David Riccio, and Brendan Cullen, [1] based on their failure to intervene when BPD officers permitted 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.

         The following motions, among others, are currently pending:

Motions to Serve Additional Interrogatories on Cullen and RiccIo, Doc. Nos. 79, 92;
Motions to Strike the Defendants' Qualified Immunity Defense, Doc. Nos. 80, 89; Motions for Default Judgment Against the Defendants, Doc. Nos. 81, 90;
Motion to Delay Ruling on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 83;
Motion to Strike the Declaration of Jay Kaufman, Doc. No. 84;
Motion to Strike Cullen's Declaration in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 85;
Motion to Strike Smith's Declaration in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 86;
Motion to Strike Riccio's Declaration in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 87;
Cullen's Motion for Protective Order with respect to Boudreau's Second Request for Admissions, Doc. No. 88;
Motion to Compel Riccio to Answer Interrogatories, Doc. No. 95;
Motion to File Oversized Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 97;
Motion to Seal Medical Records, Doc. No. 99;
Motion to Compel Production of Police Body Camera Video, Doc. No. 100; Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Communicate with Boudreau, Doc. No. 101;
Motion for Clarification of the Court's August 22, 2019 Order, Doc. No. 103;
Motion to Compel Defendant Brendan Cullen to Answer Interrogatories, Doc. No. 104;
Motion to Extend Discovery and to Supplement Opposition to Summary Judgment, Doc. No. 107; and
Motion to Serve Subpoena by Alternative Service, Doc. No. 108.

         I have categorized these pending motions as follows: Cullen's Motion for Protective Order (Doc. No. 88), Motions to Compel Answers to Interrogatories (Doc. Nos. 79, 92, 95, 104), Motions for Default Judgment (Doc. Nos. 81, 90), Motion to Compel Production of Evidence (Doc. Nos. 100, 108), Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Communicate (Doc. No. 101), Motion for Clarification of the Court's August 22, 2019 Order (Doc. No. 103), and Motions Regarding the Pending Summary Judgment Motion (Doc. Nos. 80, 83-87, 89, 97, 99, 107). I hereby issue the following rulings on those motions.

         I. Cullen's Motion for Protective Order with Respect to Plaintiff's Second Set of Requests for Admissions (“Mot. for Protective Order”) (Doc. No. 88)

         On May 22, 2019, Cullen filed a motion seeking a protective order with respect to 105 Requests for Admissions Boudreau served on him on May 6, 2019. I previously granted Cullen's request for a protective order with respect to Boudreau's first set of Requests for Admissions, which he served in October 2018. See Ruling on Mots. for Protective Order, Doc. No. 76. Specifically, I ruled that the initial requests were vague, sought irrelevant information, or sought opinions or conclusions as opposed to admissions of fact, and therefore, good cause existed to protect Cullen from the undue burden of responding to those requests. Id. at 3-4. In granting the protective order, I permitted Boudreau the opportunity to resubmit his requests on the condition that they “be concise and seek only factual information limited to the sole remaining excessive force claim in this case.” Id. at 4.

         Sometime on or shortly after the day I issued my ruling on the initial set of requests, [2]Boudreau served a second set of requests on Cullen. Pl.'s Second Req. for Admis., Doc. No. 88- 1. Cullen has now filed his second motion for a protective order, contending that the sixty new requests continue to seek information that is irrelevant, opinion-based, or pertaining to other individuals in the case. Mot. for Protective Order at 2. Thus, Cullen argues that Boudreau has failed to comply with my previous instructions regarding the refiling of his request for admissions. Id. Boudreau counters that the information sought-including Cullen's statements about what other officers were doing at the time of the incident-is relevant and that Cullen failed to confer with him prior to seeking a protective order. Pl.'s Resp. to Cullen's Mot. for Protective Order, Doc. No. 94, at 1-2.

         I rely on the same standard for protective orders and requests for admissions as stated in my previous ruling:

“Because the liberality of pretrial discovery has a significant potential for abuse, courts may issue protective orders which restrict permissible discovery if it would unduly annoy or burden the other party.” Joseph L. v. Connecticut Dept. of Children and Families, 225 F.R.D. 400, 401 (D. Conn. 2005) (citing Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34 (1984)). I have broad discretion regarding whether to issue a protective order. Id. (citing Dove v. Atl. Capital Corp., 963 F.2d 15, 19 (2d Cir. 1992)). Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a motion for a protective order “must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties in an effort to resolve the dispute without court action.” If good cause is shown, I may “issue an order to protect a party . . . from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); see also Qube Films Ltd. v. Padell, 2015 WL 109628, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 5, 2015) (moving party bears burden of establishing good cause for protective order). “Good cause is established when [the moving] party is able to show that a clearly defined, specific and serious injury will occur in the absence of such an order.” Qube Films Ltd., 2015 WL 109628, at *2 (internal quotations omitted).
Requests 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.” Dash v. Seagate Technology (US) Holdings, Inc., 2015 WL 4257329, at *16 (E.D.N.Y. July 14, 2015) (quoting Henry v. Champlain Enters., Inc., 212 F.R.D. 73, 77 (N.D.N.Y. 2003)).

Ruling on Mots. for Protective Order at 2-3.

         Cullen has not indicated whether he has attempted to confer with Boudreau regarding his responses to the second set of requests prior to seeking a protective order. However, the deadline for discovery has already been extended several times in this case, the case has been pending for more than two years, and, based on my review of the second set of requests, Boudreau has failed to comply with my instructions with respect to proper requests for admissions. In the ...


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