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Barry Searcy v. Martin Thomas

October 23, 2012

BARRY SEARCY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARTIN THOMAS, KELLY BROWN, TERRY KNAPP, PAUL "B.J." BJORUM, AND SCOTT WALDEN, EMPLOYEES OF CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIES; IDOC DIV. OF PRISONS CHIEF PAM SONNEN, ISCI WARDEN JOHANNA SMITH, DEPUTY WARDEN JAY CHRISTENSEN, SGTS. FULLER AND RICH'ARD, CPL. BICK CHRISTON, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; DOES 1 THROUGH 10, FICTITIOUSLY NAMED PERSON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald E. Bush U. S. Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Currently pending before the Court in this prisoner civil rights matter is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 24). Also pending are Plaintiff's Motion for Order to Compel Disclosure or Discovery (Dkt. 26), Motion to Defer Ruling on Summary Judgment (Dkt. 27), Motion to Vacate Scheduling Order and Reopen Discovery (Dkt. 30), and Motion for Appointment of Counsel (Dkt. 35).

The Court will resolve these matters on the written record and the parties' briefing without oral argument. See D. Idaho L. Civil R. 7.1. The Court finds good cause to amend its scheduling order, reset the discovery deadline, and give Plaintiff leave to file a supplemental response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's motion for the appointment of counsel will be denied without prejudice.

BACKGROUND

In 2004, Plaintiff was appointed as a class representative in Balla v. Idaho State Board of Correction, Case No. 1-81-cv-1165-BLW. (Amended Complaint, Dkt. 10, p. 6.) Plaintiff alleges that after he began "actively exercising and asserting civil rights" as a class representative in the Balla matter and in "other litigations," he "earned the animosity, ill will and antagonism of IDOC officials, agents and employees." (Id. at 7.) During this same time, Plaintiff was employed as a clerk by Correctional Industries (CI) at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, and he asserts that his relationship with CI management was affected negatively by his litigious activities, his knowledge of "corrupt" business practices, and his complaints about the working conditions at CI. (Dkt. 10, pp. 6-7.)

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that in November of 2007, CI switched from a manual time-keeping system to an automated system that required workers to swipe a plastic card through an electronic time clock. (Id. at 7-8.) Plaintiff contends that it was commonly known that the new system occasionally failed to record a worker's "swipe," meaning that the worker's time would not be recorded on those occasions. (Id. at 8.) In July of 2008, CI imposed a new policy to dock workers' pay if they failed to post their time properly under the new system. (Id. at 9.) Plaintiff alleges that he and other inmates complained about this policy on the ground that it would be unfair not to pay workers for time that they had actually worked simply because the electronic time-keeping system had malfunctioned. (Id. at 10.) In an unrelated matter, Plaintiff complained to supervisors that lunch was being served at CI in unsanitary conditions. (Id.)

On July 11, 2008, CI workers learned that they would not be paid on time because of an apparent accounting problem at the end of the fiscal year. (Dkt. 10, p. 11.) That morning, Plaintiff asked his supervisor, B.J. Bjorum, for permission to leave work for a previously scheduled visit at 2 p.m. (Dkt. 10, p. 11.) According to Plaintiff, Bjorum granted this request. (Id.) Also around 2 p.m., approximately 30 workers from various CI shops stopped work, apparently in protest of the late payment issue, and walked off the job. (Id. at 11.)

Plaintiff then alleges that Sergeant Richard conducted an investigation into the work stoppage and issued a Disciplinary Offense Report (DOR) to Plaintiff and other inmates. In the DOR, Plaintiff was accused of organizing the stoppage and rallying other workers to walk off the job. (Dkt. 10, p. 15.) Plaintiff contends that the charges were false, but he was found guilty after a hearing, and his appeal to the Warden was denied. (Id. at 18-19.) Because of the DOR, Plaintiff contends that he was terminated from his position at CI, received a less favorable housing assignment, and has been "blacklisted" from re-applying for employment at CI. (Id. at 21-23.)

On June 14, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court, alleging that he had been the victim of wide-ranging unconstitutional retaliatory conduct at IDOC going back to 2003, mainly because of his status as a class representative in Balla. (Dkt. 3.) The Court conducted an initial review of the Complaint and determined that many of Plaintiff's claims fell outside of the two-year statute of limitations. (Dkt. 7.) The Court ordered Plaintiff to amend his Complaint to include only timely claims, which he did on February 9, 2011, focusing primarily on the 2008 work stoppage and the DOR that followed, upon which he relies for his core claims that prison officials had retaliated against him for his legally protected activities. (Dkts. 8, 10.) The Court then allowed Plaintiff to proceed. (Dkt. 9.)

After Defendants filed their Answer, the Court issued a Scheduling Order, setting a discovery deadline of April 23, 2012, and a dispositive motions deadline of June 1, 2012. (Dkt. 21.) In accordance with that Order, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on June 1, 2012. (Dkt. 24.)

Although Plaintiff has responded to Defendants' Motion, he alleges that he never received a copy of the Court's Scheduling Order and that he was unaware of the discovery and dispositive motions deadlines. (Dkt. 30.) As a result, he has asked the Court to reopen discovery and to extend the deadline for him to submit a more complete response. (Id.) He has also filed a motion for an order to compel certain discovery and for the appointment of counsel to assist him. (Dkts. 26, 35.)

These matters are fully briefed, and the Court is now prepared to issue its ruling.

DISCUSSION

1. The Scheduling Order Will ...


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