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Hayes v. Nettles

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 11, 2017

MICHAEL T. HAYES, Plaintiff,


          Edward J. Lodge United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael T. Hayes, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC), is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Additional Screening Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A. (Dkt. 17.) Also pending are a Motion to Stay and two Motions for Sanctions filed by Plaintiff. (Dkt. 13, 27, 31.)

         Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that oral argument is unnecessary. Accordingly, because the Court conclusively finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, this matter shall be decided on the record before this Court without oral argument. D. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1. Accordingly, the Court enters the following order denying all pending motions.


         Plaintiff's initial pleading in this case was entitled “Felony Criminal Complaint.” Because a private citizen does not have the authority to institute a federal criminal action, the Court has construed the pleading as a civil rights complaint against prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff claims that, while he was incarcerated at Idaho Maximum Security Institution, Defendant Correctional Officers Nettles, Montgomery, and Johannessen severely beat Plaintiff, causing serious injuries. According to Plaintiff, the beating continued even after Plaintiff was “on the concrete floor with his hands and arms handcuffed behind his back.” (Compl., Dkt. 1, at 2.)[1] Plaintiff was allowed to proceed on his Eighth Amendment excessive force claims based on this incident.


         1. Plaintiff's Motion to Stay

         Plaintiff asks that the Court stay this action “until a proper civil rights complaint and demand for jury trial can be filed in this case.” (Dkt. 13 at 1-2.) However, because the Court has already construed Plaintiff's initial pleading as a civil rights complaint, the Motion to Stay is moot.

         2. Plaintiff's Motions for Sanctions

         In support of their Motion to Dismiss or for Additional Screening, Defendants attached what is purportedly a copy of a printout from Ada County's iCourt online database; Defendants later submitted what is purportedly an updated printout when the submitted their reply brief in support of their Motion. Both of these printouts included Plaintiffs' date of birth and social security number, in violation of Rule 5.2 of the Fede Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. 17, 23.) Counsel for Defendants states that counsel's failure to redact these items of information was a result of inadvertence and unfamiliar with the relatively new iCourt Database.[2] (Dkt. 30 at 2-3.)

         Plaintiff then filed his first Motion for Sanctions under Rule 11(b). (Dkt. 27.) When the Motion was filed, Defendants' counsel realized for the first time that the printouts had been filed in violation of Rule 5.2, and counsel immediately took steps to remedy the situation. Upon counsel's request, the Clerk of Court sealed the documents that contained Plaintiff's personal information, and counsel for Defendants refiled redacted versions of the printouts. (Dkt. 25, 26.) Plaintiff filed a second Motion for Sanctions, again based on Defendants' failure to redact Plaintiff's personal informatio from the exhibits to Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and their reply brief in support of that Motion.

         It is undisputed that Defendants' filings violated Rule 5.2. However, the Court finds that sanctions are not appropriate. Rule 11(b)(1) provides that, by signing any document filed with the Court, counsel (or an unrepresented party) certifies that the document “is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation.” Defendants' counsel acknowledges that the failure to redact the information was improper, but there is no evidence that including the information was a result of anything other than mistake or neglect. Although a review of the exhibit prior to filing should have alerted counsel to the problem, counsel did not intentionally file the document in violation of Rule 5.2 or for any other improper purpose. Therefore, the Court declines to impose sanctions under Rule 11.


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