Gil De La Madrid-Pérez v. Rosado-Rodriguez

Docket NumberCiv. 22-01438 (MAJ)
Decision Date28 November 2023
PartiesGIL DE LA MADRID-PÉREZ, Plaintiff, v. ROSADO-RODRIGUEZ, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
OPINION AND ORDER

MARIA ANTONGIORGI-JORDÁN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

On September 12, 2023, Julio Gil De La Madrid-Pérez (Plaintiff) filed the instant action against William Rosado-Rodríguez (Rosado),[1] Rexville Park Condominium Association (“Rexville”), Inmobiliaria Servicio, Inc. (“Inmobiliaria”), and Multinational Insurance Company (“Multinational”) (collectively Defendants).[2] (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff is seeking damages under Puerto Rico state law for the harm he suffered due to Defendants' alleged malicious prosecution, slander, libel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[3]

Pending before the Court is Defendant Rexville and Defendant Inmobiliaria's (Movants) Motion to Dismiss (“Motion”) pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 37(b)-37(c), and 12(b)(6). (ECF No 37). Movants argue that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed in its entirety due to his failure to comply with his discovery obligations, and because his Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. For the reasons stated hereafter, the Court DENIES Movants' Motion.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

As per Plaintiff's allegations, Plaintiff is an attorney who represented a homeowner residing in one of Movant Rexville's properties. (ECF No. 30 at 4 ¶ 12). Plaintiff's client, the homeowner, was suing the Defendants for several causes, including allegedly placing a lock on his electrical breakers without his consent. Id. ¶¶ 12-13. On August 18, 2021, during the course of this legal representation, Plaintiff went to inspect the lock. Id. ¶ 14. During said inspection, Plaintiff alleges “the bridge that holds the lock came loose,” after which, Plaintiff alleges he informed Defendant Rosado. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Plaintiff alleges Defendant Rosado then retrieved the “complete and undamaged” object and placed it in a drawer in his desk. Id. ¶ 15. Thereafter, Plaintiff and the homeowner contacted the police, who indicated an investigation would follow. Id.

A few days later, Plaintiff alleges Defendant Rosado filed a false police report indicating that Plaintiff had destroyed the lock himself, after which the police filed a criminal complaint against him. Id. at 5 ¶ 16. On September 15, 2021, Plaintiff was criminally charged under Article 207 of the Puerto Rico Penal Code, which governs damage to property. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. Plaintiff stood trial on April 5, 2022, and was ultimately acquitted. Id. ¶ 19.

Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendant Rosado's false accusations, he has suffered pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress. Id. at 6 ¶ 21. He also maintains that [a]ll [D]efendants engaged in a conspiracy to frame Plaintiff, for a crime for which he had absolutely no involvement. [As a result, he] spent months without sleep, causing anxiety, pain, and suffering, [] worrying about a crime he did not commit, a crime fabricated by the [D]efendants.” Id. ¶ 22. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants “engaged in a concerted effort to manipulate witnesses concerning false allegations,” as well as “disregarded and/or destroyed exculpatory evidence, to wit; dismantling the lock ....” Id. ¶ 24.

Plaintiff filed the operative Amended Complaint on May 18, 2023. (ECF No. 30). Movant Rexville and Movant Inmobiliaria filed Answers to the Amended Complaint on June 8, 2023, and June 10, 2023, respectively. (ECF Nos. 45, 46).

In the instant Motion, Movants contend that on February 7, 2023, Plaintiff sent Movant Rexville his initial disclosures, which failed to comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a). (ECF No. 37 at 1 ¶ 1). Specifically, Plaintiff did not include evidence related to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(ii),[4] nor a computation of his damages as required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(iii). Id. Regarding computation of damages specifically, Movants maintain Plaintiff allegedly stated that he would “provide and prove through the discovery process the damages suffered by him.” Id.

Thereafter, in lieu of filing a motion for sanctions under Rule 37(c),” on April 10, 2023, Movant Rexville requested that Plaintiff amend his Rule 26 disclosures to provide the computation of damages and the remaining omitted evidence. Id. at 2 ¶ 2. On May 9, 2023, Movants contend Plaintiff once again sent them incomplete disclosures, which again stated, “at the conclusion of discovery, Plaintiff will provide a detailed computation of each category of damages claimed and any supporting documents or evidence unless such materials are protected by privilege or other legal protectors.” Id. ¶ 3.

On May 10, 2023, a status conference was held, and this issue was raised before the Court. (ECF Nos. 29; 37 at 2 ¶ 4). At the conference, the Court found Plaintiff's first amended disclosures to be insufficient and ordered Plaintiff to complete his Rule 26 disclosures by May 22, 2023. (ECF Nos. 29; 37 at 2 ¶ 4). Plaintiff filed a Motion in Compliance with the Court's Order on said date. (ECF No. 34). However, Movants maintain that Plaintiff once again submitted incomplete disclosures. (ECF No. 37 at 2 ¶ 5). Accordingly, Movants argue Plaintiff's Motion in Compliance is an attempt to mislead the Court, as Plaintiff “clearly disregarded the Court's Order to disclose.” Id. at 3 ¶ 7. Now comes the instant Motion. (ECF No. 37).

II. Legal Standard

When addressing a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Courts should “accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiffs.” Gargano v. Liberty Int'l Underwriters, Inc., 572 F.3d 45, 48 (1st Cir. 2009) (citing Fitzgerald v. Harris, 549 F.3d 46, 52 (1st Cir. 2008). Under Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a plaintiff must “provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief5 [with] more than labels and conclusions.” Ruiz-Rivera v. Pfizer Pharm., LLC, 521 F.3d 76, 84 (1st Cir. 2008); see also Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuho-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011) ([I]n order to ‘show' an entitlement to relief, a complaint must contain enough factual material ‘to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).' (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555)). Thus, a plaintiff is required to present allegations that bring “their claims across the line from conceivable to plausible” to comply with the requirements of Rule 8(a). Twombly, at 570. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009).

When considering a motion to dismiss, the Court's analysis occurs in a two-step process under the current context-based “plausibility” standard established by Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 and Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662. “Context based” means that a plaintiff must allege sufficient facts that comply with the basic elements of the cause of action. See Iqbal, at 680-81 (concluding that plaintiff's complaint was factually insufficient to substantiate the required elements of a Bivens claim, leaving the complaint with only conclusory statements). First, the Court must “accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint [,] discarding legal conclusions, conclusory statements, and factually threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action. Iqbal, at 678; see also Mead v. Independent Ass'n, 684 F.3d 226, 231 (1st Cir. 2012) (“Any statements in the complaint that are either legal conclusions couched as facts or bare bones recitals of the elements of a cause of action are disregarded.” (citing Iqbal, at 678; Ocasio-Hernandez, at 12)).

In the second step of the analysis, the Court must determine whether, based on all assertions not discarded in the first step, the complaint “states a plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, at 679. This second step is “context-specific” and requires that the Court draw from its own “judicial experience and common sense” to decide whether a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief may be granted or, instead, whether dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is warranted. Id.

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to state a plausible claim for relief.” Doe v. Stonehill College, Inc., 55 F.4th 302, 316 (1st Cir. 2022) (citing Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 55 (1st Cir. 2012)). [W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - ‘that the pleader is entitled to relief.' Iqbal, at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Furthermore, such inferences must be at least as plausible as any “obvious alternative explanation.” Id. at 682 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 567).

The First Circuit has warned against equating plausibility with an analysis of the likely success on the merits, affirming that the plausibility standard assumes “pleaded facts to be true and read in a plaintiff's favor” “even if seemingly incredible.” Sepúlveda-Villarini v. Dep't of Educ. of P.R., 628 F.3d 25, 30 (1st Cir. 2010) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); Ocasio-Hernández, at 12 (citing Iqbal, at 681). See also Twombly, at 556 ([A] well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it appears that a ‘recovery is very remote and unlikely.' (quoting Scheuer v. Rhodes 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974))); Ocasio-Hernández, at 12 ([T]he court may not disregard properly pled factual allegations, ‘even if it strikes a savvy judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable.' (citing Twombly, at 556)). Instead, the First Circuit has emphasized that [t]he make-or-break standard . . . is...

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