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Forte v. County of Merced

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 23, 2014

EUGENE E. FORTE, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MERCED, et al., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO COMPEL; ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS, WITHOUT PREJUDICE; ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUESTS FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE; ORDER STAYING DISCOVERY UNTIL OCTOBER 14, 2014

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Currently before the Court are Defendants' Motions to Compel further Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 26 disclosures. (Doc. 227, 228.) Defendants argue that Plaintiff Eugene Forte ("Forte") failed to timely submit his disclosures, and that Forte's supplemental disclosures remain deficient. Defendants also request Forte's complaint be dismissed as a sanction for Forte's conduct towards counsel for Defendants and the Court. Id. Forte opposed the motions, and Defendants filed reply briefs. (Doc. 246, 247, 249, 250, 251.)

The Court heard oral arguments on September 19, 2014. Eugene Forte appeared in pro per. Counsel Roger Matzkind and Rayma Church appeared for the various Defendants. Having carefully considered the parties' briefs, arguments presented at the September 19 hearing, as well as the entire record in this case, the Court (1) GRANTS Defendants' Motions to Compel, and (2) DENIES Defendants' Motions for terminating sanctions, without prejudice.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

There are two discrete claims that remain in this case, both of which concern instances where Forte was arrested by the police.[1] The first arrest occurred on February 24, 2009, when Forte attended what was scheduled to be a case management conference for a case pending in superior court (the "February 24 Arrest"). The case management proceedings were set before a pro tem judge, the now dismissed defendant James Padron. Forte objected to a pro tem judge presiding over the case management conference. A dispute developed between Forte and Judge Padron, wherein Forte demanded an explanation why the proceedings were to be before a pro tem judge. Judge Padron declined to answer and told Forte that the conference had been rescheduled and that Forte was required to leave chambers or be removed.

According to Forte's Complaint, Forte vacated the chambers and waited outside Judge Padron's chambers for Judge Padron. While waiting outside Judge Padron's, Forte summoned police to help him perform a "citizen's arrest" on Judge Padron. The legal basis for the contemplated citizen's arrest is not explained. Forte's Complaint then discribes what happened in the hallway outside the Judge Padron's chambers while Forte was waiting to make his citizen's arrest, but the result is that Forte was ultimately placed in custody as soon as he attempted to confront Judge Padron. Forte alleges that his arrest was accomplished by means of excessive force, without probable cause, and in violation of his constitutional rights.

Forte's second arrest - wholly unrelated to the February 24 Arrest - occurred when Forte, his wife and son went to the Los Banos branch of the Merced County Superior Court on July 21, 2009, on a matter pertaining to his son's traffic citation (the "July 21 Arrest"). Forte had an audio recorder with him at the time and was initially barred from entry by the court guards. Eventually, Defendant Picinich determined that Forte could enter the court with the recorder but could not take the recorder into a courtroom. Forte argued that he was entitled to take the recording device into a courtroom, but could not turn it on without permission of the judge. Forte then narrates a fairly lengthy discussion over the recording device between Forte and Picinich. The conversation apparently ended when Forte told Picinich that Picinich had bad breath. Forte alleges at that point, Picinich forced Forte to the ground and, with the aid of officers Hill and Meldon, handcuffed Forte. Forte alleges excessive force was used both during the handcuffing and later as Forte was taken to a holding area. Forte further alleges that he was never told that he was being placed under arrest nor was he advised of his Miranda rights. Forte alleges he required hospital treatment for injuries suffered and additional medical expenses as a result of his treatment.

B. Background Relevant to Defendants' Motion for Terminating Sanctions

Generally, Forte's arguments and submissions are characterized by a familiar pattern of allegations that some governmental entity or person did not respond favorably to him, and then alleging, based on nothing more than speculation, that whatever setback he experienced was the result of a grand conspiracy against him. This theme has resulted in a pattern of behavior that, to put it mildly, has resulted in uncivil, unprofessional, insulting, and otherwise inappropriate behavior towards both opposing counsel and this Court.

For the last two years, this Court has tolerated Forte's sanctionable conduct, including ad hominem attacks on opposing counsel and this Court, and endless accusations of a fraudulent conspiracy that is completely untethered from Forte's claims.[2] The Court has repeatedly expressed its concerns over Forte's ability to conduct himself in a manner that maintains the integrity of these proceedings.[3] Undeterred, Forte has used virtually every filing with the Court and communication with opposing counsel as another opportunity to undermine the integrity of these proceedings with his uncivil and insulting behavior.

Subsequently, Forte's conduct towards opposing counsel and this Court graduated from inappropriate to unacceptable.[4] On April 30, 2014, this Court struck Forte's most recent filing because it was "permeated with offensive commentary." (Doc. 224.) The Court reminded Forte that "Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b) forbids a party from submitting a pleading, motion or other paper for any improper purpose, such as to harass.'" Forte was admonished that "continued use of vulgar and abrasive language will result, at a minimum, in those documents being stricken, and may result in sanctions up to and including dismissal of this action with prejudice." Id.

Yet again, Forte was undeterred. The next day, Forte resumed his refrain of leveling inappropriate remarks at judges and opposing counsel, and accusing the judges in this Court of committing a fraud against him.[5] (Doc. 220) Forte's communications with opposing counsel also evolved from hostile to insulting, threatening and utterly unacceptable.[6] In sum, Forte has demonstrated a commitment towards undermining the integrity of this Court and these proceedings with completely unacceptable behavior directed towards the Court and opposing counsel.

C. Background Relevant to Defendants' Motions to Compel

On April 29, 2014, this Court held a case management conference. (Doc. 221.) Relevant to Defendants' Motions to Compel, the Court ordered that initial disclosures were to take place on or before June 30, 2014. (Doc. 222.) Forte served his Rule 26 disclosures on or about July 2-3, 2014. Aside from lateness, Defendants allege the disclosures were deficient in several respects, including a failure to state the addresses and subjects of information of the 56 witnesses listed, a failure to set forth the locations of documents, as well as a failure to set forth any of Forte's damages information.

After a series of contentious meet and confers[7] and a supplemental disclosure and the filing of these motions, Mr. Forte served a Second Supplemental Disclosure on September 5, 2014. The Second Supplemental Disclosure was 20 pages in length, listed 104 witnesses, 11 categories of documents, 10 persons or entities with additional documents (not in Plaintiff's possession), and vaguely explained Plaintiff's claims for damages. An accompanying document production was made by referring Defendants' counsel to a Dropbox cloud account, which consisted of 58 folders with more than 5, 000 documents, all of which were represented to be the items Plaintiff listed in Rule 26 Disclosure.

Forte has made clear that the Second Supplemental Disclosure includes witnesses, documents, and damages predicated upon claims and legal theories that are not at issue, and against individuals and entities who are not parties to this case. Indeed, the introduction to Forte's Second Supplemental Disclosure makes plain that the information referred to therein goes well beyond the claims and parties presently involved in this case.[8] Forte explains this broad inclusion of information with his stated intention to amend his complaint to add those claims, theories, and defendants that have been previously dismissed, or were never at issue.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Defendants' Motions ...


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