United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON OBJECTION TO ORDER ON MOTION FOR
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court concludes that the Magistrate Judge's sanction of
precluding the Plaintiff from asserting an emotional injury
claim after a certain period is neither clearly erroneous nor
contrary to law based on the Plaintiff's deplorable
misconduct during his deposition.
The Genesis of the Controversy
genesis of this controversy can be traced to a deposition of
the Plaintiff that took place on December 11, 2015, at
Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Fort Dix in Fort Dix,
New Jersey. The Defendants were taking Mr. Stile's
deposition pursuant to a court order that allowed them to do
so. Report of Tel. Conf. and Order at 1 (ECF No. 61)
(Tel. Conf. Report) (“The deposition of the
Plaintiff shall proceed as scheduled on December 11,
2015”). The deposition was not completed. See Dep.
Under Oral Exam. of James Stile 62:9-63:1 (ECF No. 70)
the aborted deposition, on December 30, 2016, the Defendants
filed a motion for sanctions in which they requested that the
Court dismiss Mr. Stile's Complaint with prejudice for
his failure to participate in his deposition. Mot. for
Sanctions (ECF No. 69) (Sanctions Mot.). On
April 25, 2016, Mr. Stile objected. Pl.'s Resp. to
Def[s.'] Mot. for Sanctions (ECF No. 106). On June
27, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a recommended decision
on the Defendants' motion for sanctions and, after
finding that Mr. Stile's conduct was not only
disrespectful but also failed to comply with the court order,
the Magistrate Judge declined to dismiss his Complaint, yet
raised the possibility that some other less drastic form of
sanction would be appropriate. Recommended Decision on
Defs.' Mot. for Sanctions (ECF No. 131)
25, 2016, both Mr. Stile and the Defendants objected to the
Recommended Decision. Pl.'s Obj. to Magistrate
Judge's R. & R. as Pertains to (ECF No. 131) in the
Above-Docketed Case (ECF No. 141); Defs.' Obj.
to Magistrate's Recommended Decision on Defs.' Mot.
for Sanctions, Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 (ECF No. 139). On August
23, 2016, this Court affirmed the recommended decision.
Order Affirming Recommended Decision of the Magistrate
Judge (ECF No. 155) (Order Affirming).
Recommended Decision, the Magistrate Judge left open the
possibility that he would impose alternative sanctions for
Mr. Stile's obstructive misconduct. Recommended
Decision at 1, n.1, 5; Order Affirming at 4. On
December 4, 2016, the Defendants requested a telephone
conference to discuss the imposition of alternative sanctions
with the Magistrate Judge. Order on Defs.' Req. for
Sanctions at 1 (ECF No. 180) (Sanctions Order).
The Magistrate Judge held a telephonic hearing on January 6,
2017. Id. On January 23, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
issued the following Order:
An appropriate sanction, therefore, is to preclude Plaintiff
from recovering in this action for any emotional distress he
believes he suffered following his transfer to Fort Dix. In
other words, Plaintiff will be prohibited from asserting or
otherwise claiming at trial that Defendants are responsible
for any emotional distress Plaintiff might have suffered
after he become incarcerated at Fort Dix.
Id. at 5.
February 6, 2017, Mr. Stile objected to the Magistrate
Judge's Order. Pl.'s Obj. to
Magistrate's Order (ECF No. 180) Filed in Accordance with
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 (ECF No. 181) (Pl.'s Obj.).
On February 16, 2017, the Defendants responded, noting that
while none of the parties has been fully satisfied with the
sanction issued by the Magistrate Judge, his decision falls
within the Court's discretion. Defs.' Resp. to
Pl.'s Obj. to Magistrate's Order on
Def[s.'] Req. for Sanctions (Document No. 180) (ECF
The December 10, 2015 Stile Deposition
earlier noted, the Defendants sought and obtained court
permission to depose Mr. Stile, who was incarcerated at FCI
Fort Dix in New Jersey. Tel. Conf. Report at 1.
Defense counsel had traveled to Fort Dix to conduct Mr.
Stile's deposition. Sanctions Mot. at 3. At the
outset of the deposition, Mr. Stile read into the record a
statement, a portion of which reads:
On another note, the plaintiff does suffer from PTSD and a
panic disorder which has been exacerbated by Federal Bureau
of Prison's discriminatory actions against the plaintiff,
as of recent, and the court has been advised of such by
motion for injunctive relief and/or assignment of counsel in
light of the plaintiff's obvious difficulty in continuing
as pro se counsel in this pending litigation.
Plaintiff will endeavor to answer the questions of this
deposition today to the best of his ability, keeping in mind
counsel is questioning a plaintiff who, at present, is at a
mental disadvantage due to a recent episode experienced at
FCI Fort Dix that can best be described as a decompensation,
a meltdown due to failure of FCI Fort Dix to accommodate the
plaintiff's court-ordered compliance with deadlines.
Stile Dep. at 10:5-24. Later in the deposition,
defense counsel questioned Mr. Stile about the episode at FCI
Fort Dix, but Mr. Stile refused to answer questions about the
Fort Dix event:
Q. What happened? What everyone described it as, what were
the events that took place?
A. I would recommend you get the files from here and explore
Q. I may not be able to do that, but I'm asking you to