158 F.R.D. 632 (N.D.Iowa 1994), C 92-4082, Tyler v. Iowa State Trooper Badge No. 297

Docket NºC 92-4082.
Citation158 F.R.D. 632
Opinion JudgeBENNETT, District Judge.
Party NameBilly Roy TYLER, Plaintiff, v. IOWA STATE TROOPER BADGE NO. 297, Defendant.
AttorneyBilly Roy Tyler, pro se. Jeffrey D. Farrell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Atty. Gen. of the State of Iowa, for defendant.
Case DateNovember 30, 1994
CourtUnited States District Courts, 8th Circuit

Page 632

158 F.R.D. 632 (N.D.Iowa 1994)

Billy Roy TYLER, Plaintiff,

v.

IOWA STATE TROOPER BADGE NO. 297, Defendant.

No. C 92-4082.

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division.

November 30, 1994

Pro se litigant brought civil rights action against state trooper. On trooper's motion for sanctions, the District Court, Bennett, J., held that: (1) pro se litigant's failure to comply with discovery requests and court orders compelling discovery did not warrant dismissal as sanction, but (2) pro se litigant's failure to comply with order to prepare for trial warranted dismissal.

Dismissal ordered.

Page 633

Billy Roy Tyler, pro se.

Jeffrey D. Farrell, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Atty. Gen. of the State of Iowa, for defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SANCTIONS AND DISMISSING CASE

BENNETT, District Judge.

This matter comes before the court pursuant to defendant's October 24, 1994, unresisted

Page 634

motion for sanctions including dismissal. The present motion follows a series of motions and orders directed at the pro se plaintiff's failure to comply with discovery or with court orders to prepare the case for trial. In light of plaintiff's persistent disregard for discovery requests and court orders, the court concludes that as an appropriate sanction this matter should be dismissed for want of prosecution.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Billy Roy Tyler is prosecuting this § 1983 action pro se. Tyler filed his application to proceed in forma pauperis on August 17, 1992. The court granted that application on August 19, 1992, and Tyler's complaint was filed on August 20, 1992. Pursuant to the court's order of June 18, 1993, requiring Tyler to file a legible version of his complaint, Tyler filed on July 19, 1993, a typed synopsis, which has been treated by the court and defendant herein as an amended complaint. The amended complaint alleges violations of Tyler's civil rights as the result of a traffic stop and search of Tyler's person. Defendant answered the amended complaint on July 28, 1993, denying any violation of Tyler's rights.

On September 28, 1993, defendant served interrogatories and requests for admissions on plaintiff. No answers were forthcoming. Defendant sent a duplicate set of the discovery requests along with a letter to plaintiff on November 29, 1993. No answers were forthcoming to this renewed request for discovery. Defendant filed a motion to compel discovery on January 18, 1994, including a request for sanctions. By order dated February 8, 1994, the court granted the motion to compel discovery, but denied the request for sanctions. The court was reluctant to impose the full weight of sanctions on a pro se litigant without first entering an order compelling discovery. However, the court's February 8, 1994, order stated that

[f]ailure to comply with this court order may subject plaintiff to sanctions including deeming requests for admissions to be admitted, payment of defendant's costs in obtaining orders compelling discovery, and dismissal of this action.

There was no response to the court's February 8, 1994, order compelling discovery. On March 11, 1994, defendant moved for sanctions including dismissal for failure to make discovery in compliance with the court's order. On April 1, 1994, Tyler filed an " answer to interrogatories Traverse to Motion to Dismiss motion for trial judgment," which stated, inter alia, that there was no probable cause for a traffic stop, but admitted that Tyler had no drivers license. On April 7, 1994, the Hon. John A. Jarvey, Chief Magistrate Judge, filed a report and recommendation that this matter be dismissed for want of prosecution as the result of Tyler's failure to cooperate in discovery or to comply with court orders. On April 28, 1994, the Hon. Donald E. O'Brien entered a order in which the court did not adopt Judge Jarvey's recommendation, but instead propounded several " plain language" interrogatories intended to clarify plaintiff's version of the facts in this case. Tyler did file answers to these interrogatories on May 9, 1994.

On October 5, 1994, this court entered an order construing Tyler's " motion for trial judgment" as a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The court concluded that Tyler had failed to meet his burden under that rule because he had failed to identify any portions of the record which show a lack of a genuine issue of material fact. The court therefore denied Tyler's motion and concluded that this matter must proceed to trial.

On September 26, 1994, Judge Jarvey entered an order requiring the parties to prepare and exchange trial statements, exhibits, and witness lists, and to file trial briefs with the court in order to prepare this matter for trial. In response, on October 13, 1994, Tyler filed a " notice of appeal," which stated in its entirety:

Billy Tyler appeals all of the 9-26-94 order, having [?] that this case been going on for years I don't need to file nothing I want a trial and everybody...

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