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Edwards v. Dwyer

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

January 26, 2017

CHUCK DWYER, et al., Defendants.



         This closed prisoner civil rights matter is before the Court on pro se plaintiff Lawrence Martin Edwards' “Motion to Order Court” which asks the Court (1) for examination of the judgment debtor “Tamoshanter Cobb, ” and (2) to issue a writ of execution directed to the “Missouri Department of Corrections and its ‘insurer' or entity which pays out for/to correctional officers such as Tamoshanter Cobb.” Plaintiff also requests two blank subpoenas for issuance to non-parties.

         For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion will be denied in all respects without prejudice, and the Missouri Department of Corrections will be required to file certain information with the Court with respect to former employees Tamara Cobbs and Tamoshanter D. Cobb.

         In order to make clear the issues that plaintiff's motion and the Court's review of the file have raised, it is necessary to set out a description of the factual and procedural background of this case.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed this action on January 3, 2006 under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting claims against a number of MDOC employees at Southeast Correctional Center (“SECC”). The case was assigned to United States Magistrate Judge Frederick R. Buckles, who is now retired. Plaintiff was granted leave to file an amended complaint on February 20, 2007 and ordered the Clerk to issue process thereon (Doc. 82).

         The amended complaint added a number of defendants to the case, including Tamara Cobbs (Doc. 83). In the amended complaint, plaintiff alleged that on June 6, 2005, Cobbs approached his cell and began harassing him because he had reported conduct of Cobbs' friend, defendant Green. Plaintiff alleged that Cobbs called him a “snitch” in front of other offenders and told offenders in adjoining cells that he was a snitch, and scratched plaintiff's shoulder with her fingernails. (Doc. 83 at 11, ¶¶ 53). Plaintiff alleged that on June 16, 2005, Cobbs began harassing him, again calling him a “snitch” in the presence of other offenders, in an attempt to cause the other offenders to become angry and violent towards him, and inflicted numerous scratches on his underarm and chest area. (Id., ¶ 54.)

         The Clerk sent a waiver of service letter concerning the new defendants to the Deputy Chief Counsel of the Missouri Attorney General's Office (“AG”). (Doc. 84.) On April 20, 2007, the AG waived service and entered an appearance for all of the new defendants except for Tamara Cobbs and Laura Vance, stating that Cobbs and Vance “have not been identified as current employees with the” MDOC. (Doc. 112.) The Clerk then sent a letter to plaintiff, stating that he must provide an address at which service could be made on Cobbs and Vance. (Doc. 115.) Plaintiff responded by providing the address of SECC. (Doc. 116.) Judge Buckles ordered the Clerk to prepare summons and deliver them to the U.S. Marshal for service on Cobbs and Vance. (Doc. 117.) The summons were returned unexecuted; the one for Cobbs stated, “Per [] Personnel Clerk, Cobbs is no longer employed by the D.O.C.” (Doc. 120.)

         Judge Buckles then ordered counsel for the MDOC defendants to provide to the Court, in camera and under seal, the last known address of Cobbs and Vance. (Doc. 124.) On June 29, 2007, MDOC's counsel filed a Notice of Filing Document Under Seal (Doc. 125), which stated that counsel certified he would submit the last known addresses of Cobbs and Vance to the Court in camera and under seal. (Doc. 125.) Because the addresses were provided in camera, the information was provided to Judge Buckles in chambers and maintained there, and was likely shredded with Judge Buckles' work files when he retired in November 2013. It is certain that the addresses for Cobbs and Vance that MDOC counsel provided to the Court were never made part of the Court file.

         On July 5, 2007, summons were reissued to Cobbs and Vance. On August 22, 2007, the U.S. Marshal filed a return of service which states that Tamara Cobbs was personally served on August 8, 2007, at an address which was “under seal.” (Doc. 127.) The undersigned does not know where Cobbs was served.

         On September 26, 2007, Judge Buckles issued an Order that recited the procedural history of the case and stated that defendants Cobbs and Vance had been served with process but neither had answered or otherwise appeared in the case, and that other defendants had filed motions to dismiss. The Order stated that a magistrate judge cannot proceed to determine dispositive matters unless and until all parties to a case have entered and consented to the magistrate judge's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and because Cobbs and Vance had been served but failed to appear, Judge Buckles could not obtain the full consent required to proceed in the case. The Order directed the Clerk to randomly reassign the case to a district judge for all further proceedings. (Doc. 130.) The case was randomly reassigned to the undersigned.

         Plaintiff's motion for clerk's entry of default against Cobbs and Vance was granted on October 11, 2007 (Doc. 135). On January 25, 2008, the undersigned denied without prejudice plaintiff's motion for a default judgment against Cobbs and Vance. (Doc. 170.)[1] On July 28, 2008, the undersigned denied without prejudice plaintiff's second motion for default judgment against defendant Cobbs. (Doc. 248.)

         On September 11, 2008, the Court granted the remaining defendants' motion for summary judgment, leaving only defaulting defendant Cobbs in the case. (Doc. 255.) The Court ordered plaintiff to file a motion for default judgment against Cobbs. (Doc. 257.) On October 20, 2008, the Court granted plaintiff's motion for default judgment against Cobbs and entered judgment in plaintiff's favor in the total amount of $1, 000, consisting of $500 actual and $500 punitive damages, and the case was closed.

         Plaintiff subsequently attempted to collect the default judgment against Cobbs, including by filing multiple motions for garnishment and writs of sequestration, but these attempts were unsuccessful. The Court denied plaintiff's motion to obtain Cobbs' Social Security number from the AG. (See Mem. and Order of May 10, 2011 (Doc. 313)). The Court denied plaintiff's motion to compel the “defendants” to produce certain information concerning Cobbs, including her employment application, employment record, marriage certificate, driver's license number, and Social Security number. (Mem. and ...

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