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Johnston v. Gedney

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 21, 2019

RICHARD JOHNSTON, Plaintiff,
v.
KAREN GEDNEY, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         This is a civil rights case involving Plaintiff Richard Johnston, who is in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections. Before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to Judge Cobb's orders denying Plaintiff's motions to stay proceedings and for leave to file an amended complaint. (ECF Nos. 69, 70.) The Court has reviewed Defendants' responses. (ECF Nos. 75, 76.) Plaintiff filed replies (ECF Nos. 79, 80), but the Court will order these replies struck from the docket. See LR IB 3-1(a) (“Replies will be allowed only with leave of the court.”). For the following reasons, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Court adopts the background as described in Judge Cobb's orders. (ECF No. 65 at 1-3; ECF No. 66 at 1-4.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Magistrate judges are authorized to resolve pretrial matters subject to district court review under a “clearly erroneous or contrary to law” standard. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a) (a “district judge . . . must consider timely objections and modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law”); see also LR IB 3-1(a) (“A district judge may reconsider any pretrial matter referred to a magistrate judge in a civil or criminal case under LB IB 1-3, when it has been shown the magistrate judge's order is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”). A magistrate judge's order is “clearly erroneous” if the court has a “definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” See United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). “An order is contrary to law when it fails to apply or misapplies relevant statutes, case law, or rules of procedure.” Jadwin v. County of Kern, 767 F.Supp.2d 1069, 1110-11 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (quoting DeFazio v. Wallis, 459 F.Supp.2d 159, 163 (E.D.N.Y. 2006)). When reviewing the order, however, the magistrate judge “is afforded broad discretion, which will be overruled only if abused.” Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Bunnell, 245 F.R.D. 443, 446 (C.D. Cal. 2007). The district judge “may not simply substitute its judgment” for that of the magistrate judge. Grimes v. City & County of San Francisco, 951 F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing United States v. BNS, Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 464 (9th Cir. 1988)).

         IV. FIRST OBJECTION (ECF NO. 69)

         Plaintiff's first objection relates to Judge Cobb's denial of a motion to stay proceedings until discovery is completed (ECF No. 62). In that motion, Plaintiff argued that he was denied all meaningful opportunity to discover and develop evidence material to this case; that Defendants have not produced or disclosed any discovery whatsoever; and that he should be permitted discovery before the Court rules on the pending motion for summary judgment. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff also filed three subpoenas duces tecum regarding medical records. (Id. at 4-9.)

         Judge Cobb evaluated the motion as both a request to amend the scheduling order and as a motion made under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d). (ECF No. 65 at 3-6.) Judge Cobb denied the motion to the extent it constituted a request to amend the scheduling order based primarily on Plaintiff's failure to comply with LR 26-4. (See Id. at 4-5.) Judge Cobb denied the motion to the extent it constituted a Rule 56(d) motion because Plaintiff did not comply with Rule 56(d). (Id. at 5-6.) For example, Plaintiff did not indicate what discovery he needed to undertake or what facts he hoped to elicit from discovery. (Id.) Judge Cobb's decision seems to have been based in large part on Plaintiff's failure to make his request until a year after the close of discovery. (See Id. at 4.) Judge Cobb also noted that Plaintiff filed a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment as well as a counter-motion for summary judgment before filing his motion to stay. (Id. at 6.)

         Plaintiff primarily argues in his objection that Judge Cobb clearly erred because Plaintiff did not have the legal box that contained the records of his case and because he is a layperson who is incarcerated. (See ECF No. 69 at 6.) While the Court is sympathetic to the challenges Plaintiff faces as an incarcerated litigant, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that Judge Cobb clearly erred in denying Plaintiff's motion. Regardless of Plaintiff's circumstances, Plaintiff did not comply with LR 26-4 or Rule 56(d).

         Accordingly, the Court will overrule Plaintiff's first objection.

         V. SECOND OBJECTION (ECF NO. 70)

         Plaintiff's second objection relates to his motion for leave to amend his complaint (ECF No. 63). In that motion, Plaintiff sought to add as defendants Drs. Johns and Naughton and assert an Eighth Amendment deliberate ...


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