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Darryl Wakefield v. Richard Indermill

May 3, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge



I. Procedural History

Plaintiff Darryl Wakefield ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1 (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000). This action is proceeding on the first amended complaint, filed August 11, 2009, against Defendant Indermill for violations of the First Amendment and RLUIPA. (ECF No. 14.) Defendant Indermill filed an answer on August 13, 2010. (ECF No. 21.) On August 16, 2010, a discovery and scheduling order was issued, under which the deadline for the completion of all discovery, including filing motions to compel, was April 16, 2011. Discovery is currently closed in this action.

On February 22, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel which did not include copies of the discovery requests and answers. (ECF No. 35.) Defendant filed an objection to the motion to compel on March 9, 2011. (ECF No. 37.) On March 16, 2011, Plaintiff filed two motions to compel which included the discovery requests and answers, that appear to be identical. (ECF Nos. 39, 40.)

Plaintiff filed motions to declare perjury on March 16 and April 18, 2011, which the Court construes as motions for sanctions based upon Defendant's answers to discovery requests. (ECF Nos. 41, 44.) On March 25, 2011, Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motions to declare perjury. (ECF No. 43.) In his response Defendant states that he is unaware of any case law or statutes supporting Plaintiff's motions and if Plaintiff wants to assert that Defendant is perjuring himself he may do so at trial.

II. Motions to Compel

Plaintiff's motion to compel alleges that he submitted interrogatories to Defendant and did not receive completed response to the questions asked. While Plaintiff identifies the specific interrogatories that he seeks further response to, he fails to address why the interrogatories are deficient. A motion to compel must be accompanied by a copy of Plaintiff's discovery requests at issue and a copy of Defendant's responses to the discovery requests. Further, as the moving party, Plaintiff bears the burden of informing the Court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel and, for each disputed response, why Defendant's objection is not justified. Plaintiff may not simply assert that he has served discovery requests, that he is dissatisfied, and that he wants an order compelling responses. The Court shall deny Plaintiff's motion on the ground that it is procedurally deficient. The denial will be without prejudice to curing the deficiencies and refiling the motion, within thirty days.

III. Motions to Declare Perjury

Plaintiff requests that the Court order sanctions against Defendant Indermill and his attorneys for lying, falsifying documents, and providing Plaintiff with perjured testimony. (Motion to Declare Perjury 1:14-17, ECF No. 41; Motion to Declare Perjury 1:14-17; ECF No. 44.) In Plaintiff's motion filed on March 16, 2011, Plaintiff states that he requested Defendant provide information on inmate appeals in Request for Production Nos. 1, 2, and 6 and Interrogatories Nos. 7, 8, and 9. Defendant Indermill responded that he did not have the documents in his possession. (ECF No. 41 at 1-2.) However, Defendant provided a copy of the inmate appeal that was dated September 22, 2009, in his motion to dismiss and stated that it was his habit to keep a copy of all inmate appeals that he had replied to. (Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff claims that this proves that Defendant Indermill provided false testimony in his discovery responses.

The Court derives the power to impose sanctions on parties or their counsel from three primary sources of authority. "(1) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, which applies to signed writings filed with the court, (2) 28 U.S.C. § 1927, which is aimed at penalizing conduct that unreasonably and vexatiously multiplies the proceedings, and (3) the court's inherent power." Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 991 (9th Cir. 2001).

Under Rule 11 a party has an affirmative duty to investigate the law and facts prior to filing.

Rachel v. Banana Republic, Inc., 831 F.2d 1503, 1508 (9th Cir. 1987). Whether to impose sanctions is determined by the reasonableness of the inquiry into the law and facts. G.C. & K.B. Investments v. Wilson, 326 F.3d 1096, 1109 (9th Cir. 2003).

The Court has inherent power to sanction parties or their attorneys for improper conduct.

Chambers v. Nasco, Inc., 501 U.S. 32, 43-46 (1991); Roadway Express, Inc. v. Piper, 447 U.S. 752, 766 (1980); Fink v. Gomez, 239 F.3d 989, 991 (9th Cir. 2001). The imposition of sanctions under the court's inherent authority is discretionary. Air Separation, Inc. v. Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, 45 F.3d 288, 291 (9th Cir. 1995). The court's "inherent power 'extends to a full range of litigation abuses.'" Fink, 239 F.3d at 992 (quoting Chambers, 501 U.S. at 46-47). However, in order to sanction a litigant under the ...

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