United States District Court, D. New Jersey
C. MANNION, United States Magistrate Judge
this Court is pro se Plaintiff Stanley L.
Niblack's (“Mr. Niblack”) request for leave
to compel discovery and Defendants DHO Christy Ralph
(“Ms. Ralph”) and Alexander Solanik's
(“Mr. Solanik”) request that the Court accept
written deposition responses in lieu of
interrogatory responses. The Court has reviewed the parties'
submissions and decides this issue without oral argument. For
the reasons set forth below, Mr. Niblack's request for
leave to compel discovery is denied without
prejudice and Defendants Ralph and Solanik's
request that the Court accept written deposition responses is
Controlling Scheduling Order
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure must be construed by the
Court and the parties to secure “the just, speedy, and
inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding.” A Court's pretrial order
“controls the course of the action unless the court
modifies it.” The Court maintains control over the
schedule to expedite disposition of the action and to
discourage wasteful pretrial activities. Discovery
disputes are therefore handled informally as prescribed by
the Scheduling Order.
Court set forth the protocol for informally raising discovery
disputes in its Initial Scheduling Order which provided:
Counsel shall confer in a good faith attempt to informally
resolve any and all discovery disputes before seeking the
Court's intervention. Should informal efforts fail to
resolve the dispute, the matter shall be brought to the
Court's attention via a joint letter that sets forth: (a)
the specific discovery requested; (b) the response; (c)
efforts to resolve the dispute; (d) why the complaining party
believes the information is relevant and why the responding
party's response continues to be deficient; including
citations to appropriate caselaw; and (e) why the responding
party believe the response is sufficient.
further provided that “[f]ailure by any party to meet
and confer in good faith, or to participate in the
joint-letter protocol described above, absent good cause,
will result in the Court deeming that party to have waived
its right to take any position on the discovery issue(s) in
Amended Scheduling Order reiterates the same. It provides:
2. No discovery motion or motion for sanctions for failure to
provide discovery shall be made without prior leave of Court.
Should any informal efforts fail, the dispute shall
immediately be brought to the Magistrate Judge's
attention via dispute letter(s) filed on ECF not to exceed 4
pages that attaches or sets forth: (a) the request; (b) the
response; (c) efforts to resolve the dispute; (d) why the
complaining party believes the information is relevant and
why the responding party's response continues to be
deficient; and (e) why the responding party believe the
response is sufficient. Courtesy copies of exhibits should be
mailed to chambers. If the dispute is complex and requires
the filing of briefs and affidavits, counsel may separately
file and mail same. No further submissions regarding the
dispute may be submitted without leave of
Noncompliance with Discovery Dispute Protocol
Niblack has written numerous letters complaining of discovery
deficiencies following the Court's March 8 Letter Order
requiring Defendants Anna Miglio, James McDonnell, James
Hunsicker, Jonathon Henson, Ms. Ralph, and Mr. Solanik
(hereinafter “State Defendants”) to provide
copies of their respective interrogatory responses within
fourteen days. Interrogatory responses for Ms. Miglio,
Mr. McDonnell, Mr. Hunsicker, and Mr. Henson, were provided
by letter dated January 6, 2017. On March 7, 2017, Ms.
Ralph, Mr. Solanik, and Mr. Henson delivered responses to
written deposition questions, and on March 10, 2017, Ms.
Miglio, Mr. McDonnell, and Mr. Hunsicker provided the
same. Ms. Ralph and Mr. Solanik deny receiving
interrogatory requests and ask that their deposition
responses be accepted in lieu of interrogatory
responses. Mr. Niblack objects. In the same
letter, he acknowledges receipt of the State Defendants'
discovery responses filed with the Court.
review of Mr. Niblack's numerous letters complaining of
discovery deficiencies, the Court denies his request for
leave to file a motion to compel without prejudice. Mr.
Niblack failed to abide by the Court's discovery dispute
protocol set forth in the Initial and Amended Scheduling
Orders. Instead, he wrote several letters complaining of
untimely or non-existent responses to his discovery
requests. For example, on March 13, 2017, Mr.
Niblack wrote that although he served the State Defendants
with written deposition questions prior to January 31, 2017,
he had not received ...