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Tyson v. Doe

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

November 12, 2019

DESHAWN TYSON
v.
JANE DOE, et al.

          OMNIBUS DISCOVERY RULING

          HON. SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are six motions filed by self-represented plaintiff Deshawn Tyson (“plaintiff”): (1) “Motion to Compell defendants to answer Plaintiff first set of Interrogatories” [Doc. #153] (sic); (2) “Plaintiff Motion to Compel Defendant's to Produce Production/discovery” [Doc. #156] (sic); (3) “PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT TO COMPELL” [Doc. #157] (sic); (4) “MOTION FOR SANCTION(S)” [Doc. #159] (sic); (5) “SECOND MOTION TO COMPEL Defendants to produce address of Defendant Jane Doe AND OBJECTIONS” [Doc. #160] (sic); and (6) “Motion to Compel Interrogatories from John F. Healy” [Doc. #161] (sic). On August 13, 2019, Judge Janet C. Hall referred plaintiff's motions to the undersigned. [Doc. #164]. On the same date, the undersigned entered an Order requiring that on or before September 3, 2019, defendants file an omnibus response to plaintiff's motions, along with a copy of any discovery requests at issue in plaintiff's motions. [Doc. #165]. Defendants have timely complied with that Order. [Doc. #171].

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court: (1) GRANTS, in limited part, and DENIES, in large part, plaintiff's motion to compel interrogatory responses [Doc. #153]; (2) DENIES, without prejudice to re-filing, plaintiff's motion to compel discovery [Doc. #156]; (3) DENIES, as moot, plaintiff's motion for default judgment [Doc. #157]; (4) DENIES plaintiff's motion for sanctions [Doc. #159]; (5) DENIES plaintiff's second motion to compel the production of defendant Jane Doe's address [Doc. #160]; and (6) DENIES, as moot, plaintiff's motion to compel interrogatory responses from defendant Healy [Doc. #161].

         I. Background

         The Court presumes familiarity with the factual background of this matter, which is set forth at length in Judge Hall's Initial Review Order [Doc. #12], Initial Review Order re: Amended Complaint [Doc. #21], Ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [Doc. #73], Ruling on Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend and Amended Initial Review Order [Doc. #99], and Ruling on Motion to Intervene and to Stay Discovery [Doc. #133]. Nevertheless, the Court highlights two important details, which are relevant to the Court's rulings below.

         First, on July 18, 2019, in connection with the criminal charges underlying this civil case, plaintiff entered an Alford plea to a substitute information charging plaintiff with unlawful restraint in the first degree. See Doc. #171 at 65-78; see also Doc. #146 at 2-3.

         Second, Judge Hall has dismissed, without prejudice, plaintiff's false arrest claim against defendant Lucille Roach (hereinafter “Roach”). See Doc. #99 at 7. Judge Hall has instructed: “If the criminal prosecution terminates in Tyson's favor, Tyson may file a motion to add this claim.” Id. (footnote omitted). To date, plaintiff has not requested to add the false arrest claim against defendant Roach to this case.

         Accordingly, at present, the following claims remain in this case: (1) a Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure claim against defendants Garofalo, Przybylski, Przya, and Healy in their individual capacities, see Docs. #21, #29, #35, #73; (2) a state law defamation claim against Jane Doe, see Docs. #12, #21, #35; and (3) claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress against Jane Doe and defendant Roach, see Docs. #21, #35, #73, #99.

         II. Legal Standard

         Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “[T]he burden of demonstrating relevance remains on the party seeking discovery.” Bagley v. Yale Univ., 315 F.R.D. 131, 144 (D. Conn. 2016) (quotation marks and citation omitted), as amended (June 15, 2016); Republic of Turkey v. Christie's, Inc., 326 F.R.D. 394, 400 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) (same). Once the party seeking discovery has demonstrated relevance, the burden then shifts to “[t]he party resisting discovery ... [to] show[] why discovery should be denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009) (alterations added).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff has filed six motions relating to discovery and/or requesting the imposition of sanctions. The Court addresses each in turn.

         A. “Motion to Compell defendants to answer Plaintiff first set of Interrogatories” [Doc. #153] (sic)

         Plaintiff seeks to compel additional responses to his first set of interrogatories directed to defendant Roach. See Doc. #153. Plaintiff specifically takes issue with defendant Roach's responses to interrogatories 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, and 24. See generally Id. Defendant Roach has filed an opposition to plaintiff's motion. See Doc. #171 at 1-9. The Court addresses each interrogatory in turn.

         Interrogatory 2 asks: “Could evidence from a crime scene identify ten difference people that may participated in a alleged crime you are investigating?” Doc. #153 at 1 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 19. Defendant Roach objected to interrogatory 2 on several grounds, and notwithstanding those objections, provided a response. See Doc. #171 at 19-20. Plaintiff challenges defendant Roach's objections that interrogatory 2 is vague and overbroad. See Doc. #153 at 2. Plaintiff does not, however, acknowledge defendant Roach's response, nor does he present any grounds for the Court to find that defendant Roach's response is insufficient or non-responsive. The Court has reviewed defendant Roach's response to this interrogatory and finds it sufficient. Accordingly, the Court DENIES plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to interrogatory 2.

         Interrogatory 5 asks: “Do you have any evidence that Jane Doe was even at the Marriott Hotel between the days and/or night of 5/6/2014, 5/5/2014 and 5/4/2014.” Doc. #153 at 2 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 20. Defendant Roach objected to interrogatory 5 on several grounds, and notwithstanding those objections, provided a response. See Doc. #171 at 20. Plaintiff challenges defendant Roach's objection that interrogatory 5 seeks information subject to the law enforcement privilege. See Doc. #153 at 2-3. Plaintiff does not acknowledge defendant Roach's response, nor does he present any grounds for the Court to find that said response is insufficient or non-responsive. The Court has reviewed defendant Roach's response to this interrogatory and finds it sufficient. Accordingly, the Court DENIES plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to interrogatory 5.

         Interrogatory 7 asks: “Is everything in your warran/sworn Affidavit for my Arrest True?” Doc. #153 at 3 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 20. Defendant Roach objected: “The affidavit is a sworn affidavit signed by the Affiant, Lucille Roach, a police detective at the time. With this in mind, no response is necessary or appropriate.” Doc. #171 at 20. Plaintiff asserts that defendant Roach's response is vague and that interrogatory 7 warrants a “yes” or “no” answer. Doc. #153 at 4. Defendant Roach responds that interrogatory 7 “is harassing, though it is answered in the objection.” Doc. #171 at 3. Interrogatory 7 calls for a yes or no answer, which was not provided. Defendant Roach shall provide plaintiff with such a response. See Connors v. Pinkerton's, Inc., No. 3:98CV699(GLG), 1999 WL 66107, at *1 (D. Conn. Feb. 4, 1999) (“While defendant asserts that it responded to these requests, plaintiff takes issue with the substance of defendant's answers. ... [the interrogatory] calls for a yes or no answer. Defendant is directed to answer, yes or no[.]”). Accordingly, the Court GRANTS plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to interrogatory 7.

         Interrogatory 8 asks: “Within your warrant/sworn Affidavit for my arrest it stated that I Deshawn Tyson the plaintiff have two convictions of sexual assault is that true?” Doc. #153 at 4 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 20. Defendant Roach objected: “The affidavit is a sworn affidavit signed by the Affiant, Lucille Roach, a police detective at the time. With this in mind, no response is necessary or appropriate.” Doc. #171 at 20. Plaintiff asserts that interrogatory 8 warrants a “yes” or “no” answer. Doc. #153 at 4. Defendant Roach responds that interrogatory 8 “is harassing, though it is answered in the objection.” Doc. #171 at 3. Interrogatory 8 calls for a yes or no answer, which was not provided. Defendant Roach shall provide plaintiff with such a response. See Connors, 1999 WL 66107, at *1. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to interrogatory 8.

         Interrogatory 9 asks: “In your warrant/sworn Affidavit for my Arrest. All the DNA evidence within your warrant for my arrest is listed as Mixtures and that my DNA profile contributes to that DNA mixture. Does that mean more than two people DNA profile could exist within all the DNA listed in your warrant/sworn Affidavit?” Doc. #153 at 5 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 20. Defendant Roach responded and objected to interrogatory 9 as follows:

This Interrogatory requests information that would require the testimony of an expert. Further, the language referred to in this Interrogatory appeared in the Supplemental DNA report provided by the State of Connecticut Emergency Services and Public Protection Division of Scientific Services, which has been provided to the plaintiff; the paragraph (and the document from which it was gathered) speaks for itself.

Doc. #171 at 21. Plaintiff asserts that he seeks a response of “yes, ” “no, ” or “not sure” to interrogatory 9. Doc. #153 at 5. Defendant Roach, relying on the above-quoted response, states: “Plaintiff seeks an interpretation that requires an expert. ... It should not be incumbent upon the defendant(s) to provide a further interpretation.” Doc. #171 at 4. The Court agrees that interrogatory 9 essentially seeks an expert interpretation of the Supplemental DNA report -- an opinion which defendant Roach is not qualified to give. See, e.g., United States v. Haynes, 729 F.3d 178, 195 (2d Cir. 2013) (“If the opinion of a witness rests in any way upon scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge, ” then it would be considered an expert opinion, “because lay opinion must be the product of reasoning processes familiar to the average person in everyday life.” (citation and quotation marks omitted)). The Court will require no further response to interrogatory 9. Accordingly, the Court DENIES plaintiff's motion to compel with respect to interrogatory 9.

         Interrogatory 12 asks: “Did you comply with the Court informer to have Jane Doe Identify a Second Suspect on photo Board Before my arrest?” Doc. #153 at 5 (sic); see also Doc. #171 at 21. Defendant Roach responded and objected to interrogatory 9 as follows:

There is an ongoing criminal prosecution of the plaintiff related to the events described in plaintiff's complaint; defendant objects on the basis of the law enforcement privilege and to the extent that the information sought would prejudice the criminal prosecution. Plaintiff is entitled to receive documents and information in the criminal action and should not be permitted to collect additional information to which he is not entitled therein by way of his civil action if it may prejudice the criminal prosecution. Plaintiff has been provided the information to which he is legally entitled at the juncture from the State's Attorney, including ...

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