United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
LAMAR A. LENOIR, Plaintiff,
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF REHABILITATION AND CORRECTIONS, et al., Defendants.
L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge
an inmate at the Ohio State Penitentiary and former inmate at
the Lebanon Correctional Institution, brings this civil
rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations
of his Eighth Amendment rights by prison employees. This
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to
strike (Doc. 24) and plaintiffs response in opposition (Doc.
25), plaintiffs motion for discovery (Doc. 26), and
defendants' motion to stay (Doc. 27) and plaintiffs
response in opposition (Doc. 28).
Motion to Strike (Doc. 24)
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f), defendants move to strike plaintiffs
response to their answer (Doc. 23) from the record. (Doc. 24
at 1). Defendants argue that "[p]laintiff s filing is
not permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and
should be stricken, or at the very least, disregarded by the
Court." (Id. at 2) (citing Stoutamire v.
Joseph, No. 1:11-cv-242, 2012 WL 6611441, at *7 (S.D.
Ohio Dec. 19, 2012)). Plaintiff opposes defendants'
motion, arguing that his reply to defendants' answer
"expounds on the facts of the complaint in accordance to
case law... ." (Doc. 25 at 2).
to strike are governed by Rule 12(f), which provides that a
court "may strike from a pleading an insufficient
defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or
scandalous matter." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Included in Rule
7(a)'s definition of a pleading is "a reply to an
answer" if ordered by the Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 7(a). By
the plain language of the rule, a reply to an answer is not
appropriate unless ordered by the Court. Id. Here,
plaintiff filed a reply to defendants' answer in the
absence of any such order. Consequently, plaintiffs filing is
not permitted by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and
defendants' motion to strike plaintiffs reply (Doc. 24)
Motion for Discovery (Doc. 26)
has filed several requests for production of documents with
the Court. Plaintiff is advised that he must serve his
discovery requests on defendants rather than file them with
the Court. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a) ("A party
may serve on any other party a request within the scope of
Rule 26(b)-----"). Accordingly, plaintiffs motion for
discovery (Doc. 26) is DENIED.
Motion to Stay (Doc. 27)
move to stay the proceedings in this matter pending the
resolution of plaintiffs related criminal proceedings in the
Warren County Common Pleas Court. (Doc. 27 at 1). Defendants
note that plaintiff was indicted in January 2017 for
third-degree felony assault in the Warren County Common Pleas
Court and has not yet been tried for the criminal charges.
(Id.), Defendants explain that the indictment
involves the same facts at issue in this present civil case
where plaintiff alleges constitutional violations under the
Eighth Amendment. (Id. at 1, 4). Defendants argue
that the implications of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S.
477 (1994) necessitate a stay in this matter until the
criminal proceedings against plaintiff are complete.
(Id. at 2). Defendants also cite several district
court cases in the Sixth Circuit and cases in other federal
circuits that have "acknowledged that a stay of
proceedings is appropriate when the facts of the civil and
criminal cases are closely related." (Id. at
3). Plaintiff opposes defendants' motion to stay, arguing
that the implications of Heck do not justify a stay
in this matter. (See Doc. 28 at 2-5).
power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent
in every court to control the disposition of the causes on
its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for
counsel, and for litigants. How this can best be done calls
for the exercise of judgment, which must weigh competing
interests and maintain an even balance." Landis v.
N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936). See also
Hill v. Mitchell, 30 F.Supp.2d 997, 1000 (S.D. Ohio
1998) ("[T]he Court has inherent power to stay
proceedings pending the resolution of the same or related
issues in another forum."). In the context of
Heck, if a plaintiff files a civil claim related to
rulings that will likely be made in a pending criminal trial,
"it is within the power of the district court, and in
accord with common practice, to stay the civil action until
the criminal case ... is ended." Wallace v.
Kato, 549 U.S. 384, 393-94 (2007) (citing Heck
at 487-88 n. 8). In determining whether to stay a civil
action while a criminal action is pending, courts should
weigh the following factors: (1) the extent to which the
issues in the criminal case overlap with those presented in
the civil case; (2) the status of the case, including whether
the defendants have been indicted; (3) the private interests
of the plaintiffs in proceeding expeditiously weighed against
the prejudice to plaintiffs caused by the delay; (4) the
private interests of and burden on the defendants; (5) the
interests of the courts; and (6) the public interest.
Pullen v. Howard, No. 2:14-cv-104, 2015 WL 145091,
at *2 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 12, 2015) (citing F.T. C. v. E.M.A.
Nationwide, Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 627 (6th Cir. 2014)).
analyzing the above factors, the Court determines that
defendants have failed to establish that a stay is warranted
under the circumstances of this case. First, the Court is
unable to determine the degree of overlap between this civil
action and the state-court criminal case because defendants
have not specified the victim of the alleged assault carried
out by plaintiff. In his criminal case, plaintiff was
indicted on one count of assault in the Warren County Common
Pleas Court. In contrast, this civil action involves Eighth
Amendment claims against numerous defendants, including
defendants Ritchie, Spellman, Green, Hubbard, Snelling, and
two unidentified correctional officers, six of whom were not
implicated in plaintiffs state court-criminal indictment.
See e.g., Pullen, 2016 WL 4764894, at *2 (denying
defendants' motion to stay civil proceedings due to
pending criminal case because the criminal indictment arose
solely from plaintiffs alleged altercation with one defendant
and there were "numerous additional [defendants who were
not implicated in [p]laintiff s . . . criminal
indictment."). Thus, the Court disagrees with defendants
on the issue of the overlap between the civil and criminal
cases and finds that the first factor weighs against staying
remaining factors also weigh against staying this matter.
Although plaintiff has been indicted in his criminal case,
plaintiff has an interest in having his civil claims resolved
expeditiously. Likewise, "the public is always served
when an individual's injuries are remedied in a timely
manner." Pullen, 2016 WL 4764894, at *3. The
docket of plaintiff s state court criminal case reveals that
his trial for the assault charge has been rescheduled and
continued several times for almost a year. Thus, staying this
case would needlessly delay this case for an indeterminate
amount of time.
Court is unpersuaded that Heck v. Humphrey justifies
a stay in this matter. In Heck, the U.S. Supreme
Court held that "in order to recover damages for .. .
other harm caused by actions whose unlawfulness would render
a conviction or sentence invalid, a § 1983 plaintiff
must prove that the conviction or sentence has been reversed
on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, declared
invalid by a state tribunal authorized to make such
determination, or called into question by a federal
court's issuance of a writ of habeas corpus."
Heck, 512 U.S. at 486-87. In this case, however, the
Heck bar does not justify a stay of this civil
action because plaintiff has set forth claims against a
number of defendants, six of whom were not implicated in
plaintiffs state court indictment. As explained above, the
state-court criminal indictment ...