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Lewis v. Reno Police Department

United States District Court, D. Nevada

February 15, 2017

AUBREY U. LEWIS, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
RENO POLICE DEPARTMENT, et. al. Defendants.

          ORDER

          WILLIAM G. COBB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff submitted his application for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (IFP) and pro se complaint on August 11, 2016. (Electronic Case Filing (ECF) Nos. 1, 1-1.) On August 23, 2016, the undersigned issued an order granting the application to proceed IFP (subject to the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act). (ECF No. 3.) The court also screened Plaintiff's complaint, which he brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against a John Doe Reno Police Department officer, a John Doe Washoe County Detention Facility deputy, and a John Doe medical staff member at the Washoe County Detention Facility. The court concluded Plaintiff stated colorable claims for unlawful seizure, unlawful arrest and excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, as well as a claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for denial of medical care as a pretrial detainee. (Id.)

         It was further ordered that Plaintiff should be allowed to conduct limited pre-service discovery in an effort to ascertain the identity of the defendants. To that end, the court directed the City of Reno and Washoe County to enter a limited appearance for the purpose of responding to the discovery, which was limited to three interrogatories each to the City and Washoe County. (Id.) The City and Washoe County were given thirty days to enter their limited appearance; Plaintiff then had fifteen days to serve the interrogatories; and, the City and Washoe County had thirty days to serve responses. (Id.) Plaintiff then had fifteen days to file an amended complaint identifying the named defendants and a motion requesting service by the U.S. Marshal. (Id.)

         The court prospectively extended the ninety-day deadline for service under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) to 120 days in light of the need to conduct pre-service discovery to identify the defendants. (Id.) Plaintiff was advised that if he needed additional time to conduct discovery or to effectuate service, he needed to file a motion supported by good cause prior to the expiration of the 120 days. (Id.)

         The court advised that it would set the matter for a status conference in approximately ninety days; however, the court later discovered that this was not done.

         Washoe County entered its notice of limited appearance on September 13, 2016. (ECF No. 5.) The City of Reno entered its notice of limited appearance on September 22, 2016. (ECF No. 6.)

         Plaintiff timely served the interrogatories by mail on September 27, 2016. Instead of serving three interrogatories each on the City and Washoe County, Plaintiff appears to have served a single set of seven interrogatories on each. (ECF No. 17.) The first four interrogatories are directed to Washoe County, while interrogatories five through seven are directed to the City of Reno. (Id.) Washoe County provided responses to interrogatories one through three on October 17, 2016, identifying the Washoe County Detention Facility employees involved in his booking and property inventory, as well as a list of deputies assigned to intake that day, and identifying the contractor, Armor Correctional Services, that was involved in medically evaluating Plaintiff. (ECF Nos. 12. 12-1; see also ECF Nos. 15, 15-1.) The City of Reno provided responses on November 2, 2016. (ECF No. 16.) The City of Reno only responded to interrogatories one through three, even though those interrogatories were clearly directed to Washoe County. (Id.)[1] It objected to having to respond to the interrogatories, and then responded that it did not have responsive information. (Id.)

         On January 4, 2017, the court set this matter for a case management conference on February 8, 2017. (ECF No. 7.) That order was returned by the Washoe County Detention Facility as undeliverable, indicating Plaintiff was not at the facility. (ECF No. 8.)

         On January 17, 2017, the court vacated the case management order, and directed Plaintiff to provide a notice of change of address or face a recommendation of dismissal of his action. (ECF No. 9.)

         On January 23, 2017, Washoe Legal Services, who is not representing Plaintiff, but has a program assisting inmates in the Washoe County Detention Facility with civil legal matters, informed the court that Plaintiff was released for a period of time and then was returned to jail for sentencing, and expected to be there through February 16, 2017. (ECF No. 10.) After that time, he provided an alternative address. (Id.)

         On February 1, 2017, Washoe County filed the discovery responses it had previously provided to Plaintiff in October of 2016. (ECF Nos. 12, 12-1.)

         On February 8, 2017, the court set a status conference for February 13, 2017, requesting that Washoe County and the City make a limited appearance. (ECF No. 13.)

         The City and Washoe County made a limited appearance at the February 13, 2017 status conference, and Plaintiff appeared by telephone from the Washoe County Detention Facility. (See ECF No. 18.) The court discussed the status of the pre-service discovery and Plaintiff's failure to file an amended complaint or motion seeking an extension of time to conduct discovery or effectuate service, took the matter under submission, and issues the instant order on that topic.

         II. ...


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