Grimes v. Dist. of Columbia, Civil Case No. 08–2024 (RJL)

Citation308 F.Supp.3d 93
Decision Date30 March 2018
Docket NumberCivil Case No. 08–2024 (RJL)
Parties Patricia GRIMES, as the next best friend and Personal Representative of the Estate of Karl Grimes, Plaintiff, v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)

308 F.Supp.3d 93

Patricia GRIMES, as the next best friend and Personal Representative of the Estate of Karl Grimes, Plaintiff,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

Civil Case No. 08–2024 (RJL)

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Filed March 30, 2018

308 F.Supp.3d 95

Gregory L. Lattimer, Law Offices of Gregory L. Lattimer, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

David A. Jackson, Erica Taylor McKinley, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, Chantelle M. Custodio, Pessin Katz Law, P.A., Towson, MD, Gina Marie Smith, Joseph B. Chazen, Meyers, Rodbell & Rosenbaum, P.A., Riverdale Park, MD, for Defendants.


RICHARD J. LEON, United States District Judge

Decedent Karl Grimes ("K.G.") was a juvenile offender in Defendant District of Columbia's custody ("District"). On or about August 29, 2005, K.G. was committed to the Oak Hill Juvenile Detention Facility ("Oak Hill"). See Compl. ¶¶ 10, 17 ("Compl.") [Dkt. #1]. Decedent's mother Patricia Grimes ("Grimes" or "plaintiff") filed this suit alleging that on or about November 23, 2005, K.G. was attacked by several Oak Hill residents, resulting in his death. Id. ¶¶ 11, 15. According to plaintiff, the attack occurred because "the facility was under-staffed and/or improperly-staffed to accomplish the detention of young males in a reasonably safe environment." Id. ¶ 12. The District of Columbia "knew of the unsafe conditions at the Oak Hill Facility," but, "through deliberate indifference, did nothing." Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff alleges that the District's "deliberate indifference" to these conditions violated decedent's Eighth Amendment rights. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff also alleges negligent hiring, training, and supervising on the part of the District.1 Id. ¶ 26.

Before this Court is the District's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. [Dkt. # 101]. For the reasons that follow, the Motion is GRANTED.


The District's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment follows a very lengthy and somewhat convoluted path of judicial proceedings, with multiple modifications to the discovery schedule and multiple trips to our Court of Appeals.

I. Proceedings Following November 6, 2009 Scheduling Order

On November 6, 2009, the Court issued its Scheduling Order. [Dkt. # 34]. That Order specified that Rule 26(a)(1) Initial Disclosures would be due on November 30, 2009; Written Discovery Requests on December 30, 2009; Proponent's Rule 26(b)(4) Expert Statement on January 18, 2010; and Opponents' Rule 26(b)(4) Expert Statement on March 18, 2010. Id. Per the Scheduling Order, Discovery would close on May 31, 2010, and Dispositive Motions would be due July 15, 2010. Id.

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To say the least, Discovery was slow-going. Neither plaintiff nor the District filed a Rule 26(a)(1) Statement. Only Dimensions Health Corporation, d/b/a Prince George's Hospital Center ("PGHC"), no longer a party to this case, filed a Rule 26(a)(1) Statement.2 [Dkt. # 36]. On January 7, 2010, Defendants District of Columbia and PGHC jointly filed a Motion for Entry of Protective Order. [Dkt. # 37]. Then, on January 15, 2010, more than two months after the Rule 26(a) Initial Disclosures deadline, and not having received Initial Disclosures from plaintiff, PGHC filed a Motion to Compel and for Sanctions. [Dkt. #38]. PGHC sought an order to compel plaintiff's Rule 26(a) Statement, noting that Defendant PGHC had been prejudiced by plaintiff's failure to observe the Court's timeline, since Initial Disclosures "serve[ ] as a building block for the remainder of discovery." Id. ¶ 6. "Without this information, Defendant [PGHC] is severely limited in its ability to pursue discovery and prepare its defense." Id. Indeed, PGHC noted, in light of the discovery deadline of May 31, 2010, "there is a very limited period of time remaining for [PGHC] to pursue discovery in this matter." Id. ¶ 7.3

PGHC's Motion to Compel and for Sanctions spurred plaintiff to action. Little more than one week later, plaintiff filed a Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery. [Dkt. # 40]. The Motion contained no explanation, however, as to why plaintiff had failed to file the Rule 26(a)(1) Initial Disclosures, as required by the Scheduling Order. Id. Instead, plaintiff represented to the Court that due to the lack of protective order, neither defendant had responded to discovery. Id.4 Plaintiff advised that, without defendants' responses, she could not file the expert report due on March 18, 2010. Id. For this reason, plaintiff asked that the deadlines specified in the Scheduling Order each be moved back 60 days. Id. In plaintiff's view, 60 days "would provide ample time to complete discovery in this rather complex case." Id. ¶ 4. The District of Columbia consented to the Motion, but PGHC opposed. Id.

Shortly thereafter, on January 27, 2010, the District of Columbia moved for an extension of time to complete discovery, requesting 30 days from the issuance of the Protective Order to respond to the interrogatories and requests for production of documents served by plaintiff. [Dkt. #41]. On February 4, 2010, the Court issued the Protective Order. [Dkt. # 43]. This set out procedures for the use of

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"juvenile social service records, medical records, investigative reports, [Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services] records, psychiatric and/or psychological records, educational records, financial records, or other personal and private information, documents and things" over the course of the litigation.5 Id. ¶ 1.

Other than PGHC's Rule 26(b)(4) expert designations [Dkt. # 48], the docket reflects no discovery activity over the next two months.6 On March 30, 2010, PGHC filed a Motion to Dismiss. [Dkt. # 49]. PGHC's motion relied on both plaintiffs and the District's failure to identify and proffer experts under the timeline set out in the Scheduling Order. This is because "[i]n order to prove a prima facie case of medical malpractice, a plaintiff must produce expert testimony." Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss at 3 (citing Nichols v. Greater Se. Cmty. Hosp. , 382 F.Supp.2d 109 (D.D.C. 2005) ) [Dkt. # 49–1].

The Court ruled on these four sets of motions—PGHC's Motion to Compel and for Sanctions; Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery; the District's Motion for Additional Time to Respond to Discovery and to Serve Written Discovery; and PGHC's Motion to Dismiss—on June 21, 2010. PGHC's Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Compel and for Sanctions were denied; and Plaintiff's and the District's respective motions were granted nunc pro tunc.

II. Proceedings Following Amended Scheduling Order

Pursuant to this round of orders, the deadlines in the Scheduling Order were, nunc pro tunc , each moved back 60 days. Under the amended Scheduling Order, the Initial 26(a)(1) Disclosures deadline was January 30, 2010; Written Discovery Requests were due on March 1, 2010; Proponent's Rule 26(b)(4) Expert Statement was due March 20, 2010; Opponents Rule 26(b)(4) Expert Statement was due May 20, 2010; Discovery would close on July 29, 2010; and Dispositive Motions were due on September 12, 2010. In addition, the District received, nunc pro tunc , 30 days from the entry of the Protective Order (February 4, 2010) to "respond to the interrogatories and requests for production of documents served by plaintiff and co-defendant [PGHC]." See Def.'s Mot. for Add'l Time to Respond to Disc. and to Serve Written Disc. (Jan. 27, 2010) [Dkt. #41].

The parties made no entries on the docket until September 9, 2010, when PGHC filed a Motion to Dismiss and/or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment. [Dkt. # 53]. In the interim, neither plaintiff nor the District filed Rule 26(a) Initial Disclosures. Nor did they file Rule 26(b)(4) Statements. Nor did they notice

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the deposition of PGHC's fact or expert witnesses.

Given this lack of discovery, PGHC essentially recited the arguments made in its earlier Motion to Dismiss. PGHC argued that, because plaintiff had failed to designate any experts, she could not establish (i) the appropriate standard of care and (ii) whether a breach occurred. The lack of expert testimony would defeat both plaintiff's claims and the District's cross-claims. Moreover, the brief went on to say, PGHC had proffered experts in its own properly-submitted Rule 26(b)(4) Statement that (i) established the correct standard of care and (ii) demonstrated that PGHC had complied with that standard. PGHC further argued that plaintiff and the District "must be precluded from designating experts at this late stage of the litigation." Mem. in Supp. at 7 [Dkt. # 53–1]. In PGHC's telling, the failure to designate experts "represents a general pattern of failure to prosecute their claims."Id. at 9. Days later, the District filed its own Motion for Summary Judgment, which rested primarily on the argument that plaintiff, despite having the burden of proof, had failed to prosecute her claim. [Dkt. # 55].

Plaintiff did not oppose either motions on the merits. Instead, she filed a Motion to Strike the...

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