United States District Court, D. New Jersey
May 6, 2005.
RENE' BRADLEY-WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, ET AL, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOSEPH IRENAS, District Judge
Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel
discovery and interrogatories, for dismissal of Defendants'
Answer to the Complaint, for default judgment and to compel
restoration of Plaintiff's income and residence. (Docket no. 46.)
Plaintiff has not established that Defendants committed any
discovery violations, nor has she provided an alternative
justification for granting the requested relief. For the reasons
set forth below, her motion will be denied. I.
The facts and procedural history of this case will not be
repeated in full. Pertinent to the current motion is that
Plaintiff filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against multiple state actors, in which she claims that she was
wrongfully suspended without pay and not reinstated because she
is a woman of color. Action against Plaintiff was taken after she
was charged with issuing fraudulent checks. The gravamen of the
Complaint contends that a non-minority employee, who also faced
criminal charges, was not suspended without pay.
Also relevant to the instant motion is Magistrate Judge Joel
Rosen's March 4, 2005 Order, in which the Court dismissed as moot
Plaintiff's motion to compel the certification of Defendant
Morisky's interrogatory answers, ordered the Plaintiff to produce
information relevant to the criminal indictment against her, and
to respond to all outstanding discovery requests, with the
exception of the Defendants' request for past employment history,
by no later than March 25, 2005. (Docket no. 44.)
The Plaintiff seeks an order compelling discovery and answers
to interrogatories. She claims that she has requested discovery
and not received responses from seven of the eight Defendants. (Pl. Brief, at p. 2.) Plaintiff has moved to dismiss
Defendants' Answer as a sanction for failure to provide answers
to her interrogatories and for failure to produce requested
discovery, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. (Pl. Brief, at p. 6.)
The Plaintiff misquotes the March 4, 2005 Order, and mistakenly
interprets the Order to require both parties to respond to all
outstanding discovery requests by March 25, 2005. However, the
March 4, 2005 Order is explicitly directed at Plaintiff's
obligation to supply her responses to discovery requests.
Defendants have already served responses for at least one named
Defendant and are in the process of compiling responses and
certifications for the other Defendants whose answers have not
yet been served. (Picillo Certification, at ¶ 9.) In addition,
Plaintiff has not fully complied with Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. A party
who fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33, or
fails to comply with discovery requests in another fashion, can
be subject to a motion to compel. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(2)(B).
However, the discovering party must "include a certification that
the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer
with the person or party failing to make the discovery in an
effort to secure the information or material without court
action." Id. Plaintiff did not include such a certification,
although it is undisputed that she spoke with opposing counsel regarding discovery issues before filing her
motion. During that telephone conversation, counsel for the
Defendants, Mr. Picillo, a Deputy Attorney General in the
Department of Law and Public Safety, advised Plaintiff that the
Defendants were in the process of finalizing answers to the
interrogatories and the materials would be forwarded to the
Plaintiff. (Id. at ¶ 4.)
Since Defendants have not violated the March 4, 2005 Order, and
there does not appear to be any discovery violations, Plaintiff's
motion to compel discovery and interrogatories will be denied, as
will Plaintiff's motion to dismiss the answer.
Plaintiff seeks the entry of a default judgment against
Defendants. She claims that she has established a prima facie
case for discrimination, and that due to Defendants' alleged bad
faith and non-compliance with discovery requests, she is entitled
to a default judgement.
Although Plaintiff styles her request as one for a default
judgment, in fact what she is really seeking is either a summary
judgment on the merits or a dismissal as a sanction for alleged
discovery violations. As noted above, it is not clear that there
have, in fact, been any discovery violations by the Defendants,
and there certainly have been no discovery violations that come close to justifying the sanction requested.
Defendants have put forth a viable defense to Plaintiff's
claims. Discovery has not yet been completed and there are
clearly substantial factual disputes, which remain to be
resolved, either by proper summary judgment motion or trial.
Therefore, Plaintiff's motion for a "default judgment" will be
Finally, Plaintiff asks this Court to order Defendants to
restore her income, including the provision of medical benefits,
and to stay the sale of her home, which was sold at sheriff's
sale on March 22, 2005, or in the alternative to provide her with
new housing. The basis of Plaintiff's request is her contention
that she was wrongfully suspended without pay, and that Judge
Rosen ordered Defendants to reinstate her with pay and benefits.
Because Plaintiff asks for two types of specific relief, we will
deal first with her request for paid reinstatement, and second
with her requests dealing with the sale of her home.
Plaintiff has not yet shown that she was wrongfully suspended.
We disagree with her claim that she has already established a
prima facie case of discrimination. In addition, Plaintiff misinterprets Judge Rosen's March 4,
2005 Order. Judge Rosen clarified the Court's comments made on
the record on February 23, 2005, with regard to possible
reinstatement. The March 4, 2005 Order clearly states that the
Court did not order the Defendants to place Plaintiff on paid
suspension with benefits, but rather "requested that counsel for
the defendants inquire of their clients whether such an
adjustment should be made." (March 4, 2005 Order, at p. 7.) Judge
Rosen further noted that "[c]ounsel is under no obligation from
this court to compel their clients to restore the plaintiff's pay
and benefit status." (Id.)
Defendants were not under court order to reinstate Plaintiff
with pay and benefits. Plaintiff has not provided the Court with
sufficient evidence to justify such an order at this time.
Plaintiff's request for restoration of income, with benefits,
with be denied.
Plaintiff requests that this Court stay the sale of her home,
or in the alternative, order the Defendants to provide her and
her children with new housing. It appears that Plaintiff's home
was sold at sheriff's sale on March 22, 2005, after Chase
Manhattan Mortgage Corporation initiated foreclosure proceedings.
(Pl. Brief, at p. 9.) It also appears that Plaintiff moved for an automatic stay of the sheriff sale, relief of foreclosure and
other relief on February 17, 2005, in the Superior Court of New
Jersey. (Pl. Ex. VIII.)
Even if the Court could stay a sale that already occurred, the
restoration of Plaintiff's residence is beyond this Court's
jurisdiction. The foreclosure action was properly brought, and
opposed by Plaintiff, in state court. Plaintiff's mere
allegations that she fell behind in her mortgage payments due to
the alleged discriminatory actions of the Defendants does not
link the foreclosure action and sheriff sale with the instant
matter before this Court. Therefore, her motion for restoration
of her residence, or for alternative housing, will be denied.
For the reasons set forth above, the Court will deny
Plaintiff's motion. The Court will issue an appropriate Order.
© 1992-2005 VersusLaw Inc.