United States District Court, District of Columbia
Geoffrey D. Allen, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.
David A. Jackson, Ronald William Gill, District of Columbia, Office of the Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Defendant.
JAMES E. BOASBERG, District Judge.
In November 2010, Plaintiff Troy Richardson filed this suit against Todd Korson
and Darnette Bennett, officers of the Metropolitan Police Department, alleging that they were negligent (Count I) and violated his civil rights (Count II) in handcuffing him too tightly and then dragging him to a patrol car during an arrest. Korson previously moved to dismiss both counts. The Court granted the motion in part, narrowing the negligence claim to one for tight handcuffs and the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim to a Fourth Amendment violation. See ECF No. 12 (August 26, 2011, Memorandum Opinion & Order). Bennett was never served, and the Court thus dismissed all claims against her in a Minute Order on October 6, 2011.
Following fact and expert discovery, Korson now moves for partial summary judgment on the negligence claim alone. He maintains that this count fails as a matter of law because Plaintiff lacks sufficient expert testimony to prove that the manner in which he was handcuffed breached a national standard of care. Defendant further moves to strike Plaintiff's supplemental expert report— which provides testimony on the standard— as untimely and substantially prejudicial, arguing it violates the rules governing expert discovery. While the Court agrees that Plaintiff has failed to comply with these rules, resulting in disruption to the efficient management of the case, the Court finds that such failure is not so prejudicial as to justify preclusion of the expert report. The Court will thus reluctantly permit the untimely supplemental report, which also means summary judgment is premature. This ruling, however, is contingent upon Plaintiff's expert being made available for a deposition at Plaintiff's expense. Defendant will also be permitted to submit his own expert report and may renew this Motion following additional, limited discovery.
On January 30, 2008, members of an MPD recruit class observed Richardson slap his daughter. See Mot., Exh. 1 (Statement of Material Facts Not in Dispute (SMF)), ¶ 2; Opp., Exh. 1 (Plaintiff's Answers to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories), ¶ 10. Officer Korson was on patrol and received a call for assistance, arriving at the scene shortly thereafter. See SMF, ¶¶ 3-4. Richardson had already been placed in handcuffs by another officer when Korson arrived. See id., ¶ 4; Pl. Ans. to Int., ¶ 7. Korson and Richardson provide differing accounts of the events that transpired next, as Korson attempted to place Richardson in an MPD vehicle for transport to the police station. Korson states that he gave Richardson numerous warnings that he had to come with him, and when Richardson refused to cooperate, Korson was forced to " put his hands under [Richardson's] arm pits and lift[ ][him] to his feet." SMF, ¶¶ 6-9. Korson then " took hold of [Richardson's] upper arm and walked Plaintiff to his MPD transport vehicle, which was about a car length away." Id., ¶ 10.
Richardson, in contrast, describes Korson approaching him in " an aggressive and threatening manner." Pl. Ans. to Int., ¶ 7. Korson then grabbed Richardson's arm, causing him to fall to the ground in pain. See id. Richardson was then dragged " about five feet on the rough pavement to the rear of the first recruiting van. [Korson] slammed [him] face down on the concrete and then placed his knee directly into the center of [Richardson's] back." Id. Korson then placed a second pair of handcuffs on Richardson's wrists and " excessively tightened them," before dragging Richardson " an additional twenty-five to thirty feet before lifting [him] into the back of [Korson's] patrol car." Id. Richardson
claims his wrists were " numb with pain" from the handcuffs. Id.
Korson acknowledges that he was aware of Richardson's complaints regarding the tightness of the handcuffs, but states that he " checked the tightness of the handcuffs by placing his pinky finger between the handcuffs and Plaintiff's wrist." SMF, ¶¶ 12-13. Korson maintains that the discomfort Richardson was experiencing was due to Richardson's twisting of his wrist, " which caused the handcuffs to rub against Plaintiff's wrist bone." Id., ¶ 14. Richardson was subsequently taken to the hospital for the " excruciating, unbearable pain" he was experiencing. See Pl. Ans. to Int., ¶ 7. After an examination at the hospital, Richardson was taken back to the police station. See id.
Richardson subsequently filed suit in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia asserting a negligence claim based on the dragging conduct and the tight handcuffs (Count I) and a Section 1983 claim based on violations of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments (Count II). See Compl., ¶¶ 7-13. This Court previously dismissed Count I with respect to the dragging conduct and Count II with respect to the Fifth Amendment. See August 26, 2011, Memorandum Opinion. Plaintiff's negligence claim based on the tight handcuffs and his § 1983 claim based on the Fourth Amendment were allowed to proceed. See id.
The Court then issued a Scheduling Order on October 6, 2011, setting forth deadlines for expert and fact discovery. See ECF No. 15 (Scheduling Order). Over the months that followed, the parties sought to extend the discovery deadlines, which joint requests the Court granted. See January 10, 2012, Minute Order granting Consent Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery; February 29, 2012, Minute Order granting Consent Motion to Modify the Scheduling Order; June 7, 2012, Minute Order granting Consent Motion for Extension of Time to Complete Discovery; July 2, 2012, Minute Order extending deadline for discovery. Following these extensions, the parties appeared for a status conference on August 31, 2012, to set a schedule for briefing on summary judgment. Defendant consequently filed this Motion, which the Court now considers.
Defendant moves for summary judgment solely on Count I, claiming he is entitled to judgment because Plaintiff lacks sufficient expert testimony to prove that Korson negligently applied handcuffs during Richardson's arrest. See Mot. at 8-11. He further moves to strike Plaintiff's supplemental expert report as untimely and substantially prejudicial to his defense. See id. at 11-15. Richardson counters that expert testimony is not required with respect to the appropriate manner in which handcuffs are applied, and that even if such testimony were required, it has been established through the expert report of Robert Klotz and the addendum thereto. See Opp. at 3-7. He further contends that the Court should not strike Klotz's supplemental report as untimely because its ...