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Harriman v. Hancock County

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Harriman (plaintiff) sued Hancock County after he was mistreated in prison.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    if a filing party has constantly missed deadlines, the court may preclude evidence when the untimeliness is not justified and the preclusion will be harmless.

    Facts.

    Plaintiff was arrested while intoxicated and while in jail he was acting belligerent in his cell and when officers went into the cell they saw him in a puddle of urine. The plaintiff also had 2 seizures after he fell and his head in the cell. After paramedics arrived the plaintiff could not recall what happened but describe seeing flashes of light and hearing screaming. The plaintiff sued the defendant for allegedly beating him causing head injuries and permanent brain damage. As trial commenced, and after initial disclosures, 2 days before the plaintiff’s responses to a motion to dismiss was due, the plaintiff filed a supplemental initial disclosure identifying an officer and his cousin, who was also in the jail, as people having discoverable information, supported by affidavits that they persons with discoverable information were only recently located. The defendant moved to strike the affidavits. The supplemental disclosure was not the first time the plaintiff had missed a deadline to file with the court.

    Issue.

    Whether if a filing party has constantly missed deadlines, the court may preclude evidence when the untimeliness is not justified and the preclusion will be harmless.

    Held.

    Yes. if a filing party has constantly missed deadlines, the court may preclude evidence when the untimeliness is not justified and the preclusion will be harmless.

    Discussion.

    Under rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, parties must timely make initial disclosure including disclosures of all relevant parties with discoverable information, and if they fail to do so evidence may be precluded under Rule 37. Several factors may be relevant for preclusion of evidence including prior failures to timely disclose and the excuse for the lateness, and the need. Here, while the need for the late filing is great, the other factors are lacking because the plaintiff has no justified excuse and has consistently failed to file on time.


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