United States District Court, D. Maine
BRITTANY IRISH, individually and as personal representative of the estate of KYLE HEWITT, deceased, and KIMBERLY IRISH, Plaintiffs,
DETECTIVE JASON FOWLER, et al. Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION TO AMEND PLAINTIFF'S RESPONSE TO
REQUEST FOR ADMISSION
A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
that the amendment of a response to a request for admission
would promote the presentation of the merits of the action
and that there is no suggestion of prejudice from the
amendment, the Court grants a plaintiff's motion to amend
her response to a request for admission.
December 10, 2015, the Plaintiffs initiated this civil action
against the state of Maine and several state police officers
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging under various
legal theories that the Defendants were legally responsible
for a series of tragic events in 2015 leading to the death of
Brittany Irish's boyfriend, Kyle Hewitt, the shooting of
Kimberly Irish, Brittany Irish's mother, and the
kidnapping of Brittany Irish. Compl. (ECF No. 1). At
the time the Complaint was filed, the Plaintiffs were
represented by Attorney David Van Dyke. Id. On
February 28, 2018, however, Attorney Van Dyke passed away
unexpectedly and Attorney Scott J. Lynch inherited Attorney
Van Dyke's caseload of eighty-nine cases, including this
civil action. Pl.'s Mot. to Am. Resp. to
Admissions at 1 (ECF No. 71) (Pl.'s Mot.).
Attorney Lynch entered his appearance on behalf of the
Plaintiffs on March 14, 2018. Notice of Appearance
(ECF No. 47). On March 21, 2018, the Magistrate Judge held a
conference to discuss the future course of the case and
extended a number of the scheduling deadlines. Report of
Tel. Conf. and Second Am. Scheduling Order (ECF No. 52)
(Second Am. Scheduling Order). The Plaintiffs'
deadline for designation of expert witnesses, for example,
was extended from October 31, 2017 to July 2, 2018.
Compare Scheduling Order at 2 (ECF No. 25), with
Second Am. Scheduling Order at 1.
8, 2018, the Defendants propounded a request for admissions,
consisting of twenty-eight separately stated questions.
Id. Attorney Lynch represents in the motion that
when the Defendants filed their May 8, 2019 requests for
admission, he had not met the Plaintiffs, had not reviewed
the one-terabyte hard drive of discovery provided by the
state of Maine, and had not reviewed the 5, 000-plus pages of
paper discovery that Attorney Van Dyke had received,
reorganized, and tabulated. Id. Brittany Irish
signed the responses to the requests for admission on May 30,
2018. Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. to Am Resp.
to Reqs. for Admissions (Defs.' Opp'n),
Attach. 1, Pl. Brittany Irish's Resp. to Def.'s
First Req. for Admissions at 4 (ECF No. 73) (Irish
Resp. to Req. for Admissions).
One response is the subject of the Plaintiff's motion:
27. When Anthony Lord received a voice mail message from
Detective Perkins on July 16, 2015, he believed the message
related to the death of his son.
Mot. at 2; Pl.'s Resp. to Req. for Admissions at 4. Ms.
Irish seeks to clarify her response as follows:
RESPONSE : Plaintiff Brittany Irish admits
that Anthony Lord stated in an interview with detectives that
he believed the message from Detective Perkins related to the
death of his son. Plaintiff Brittany Irish does not know
whether Anthony Lord actually believed that to be true and,
therefore, denies the same and leaves the Defendants to their
Pl.'s Mot. at 2. The Defendants object.
Defs.' Opp'n at 1-5.
THE PARTIES' POSITIONS
The Plaintiff's Position
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(b), the Plaintiff
acknowledges that there is a “two-part test to
determine whether it is reasonable and appropriate for the
court to grant relief to a party requesting to withdraw or
amend discovery admissions.” Pl.'s Mot. at
3. The first is whether it would “promote the
presentation of the merits of the action”, and the
second is whether it would “prejudice the requesting
party in maintaining or defending the action on the
merits.” Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(b). Regarding
the first issue, the Plaintiff emphasizes the Court's
discretion in determining whether to permit withdrawal or
amendment of admissions. Id. at 3-4. The Plaintiff
states that her initial response is “manifestly
inconsistent with the position of Brittany Irish in this law
suit.” Id. at 4. She also stresses that she
filed the motion before the dispositive motion deadlines had
lapsed. Id. She attributes her initial response to
three things: (1) Attorney Van Dyke's untimely death, (2)
the volume of material new counsel confronted, and (3) new
counsel's failure to appreciate the nuance of what the
term “believed” meant in the context of this
admission. Id. at 5. Regarding the second prong, the
Plaintiff argues that the Defendants will not be prejudiced
in the way that concept is applied in this context.
Id. at 5-6.