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Robinson v. Napolitano

June 4, 2009

EUGENE R. ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Veronica L. Duffy United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL

INTRODUCTION

This case is before the court on pro se plaintiff Eugene R. Robinson's employment discrimination claim against defendant, Janet Napolitano, as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (hereinafter "the government"). The government filed a motion seeking to compel Mr. Robinson to provide certain discovery. See Docket No. 24. The district court, the Honorable Karen E. Schreier, Chief Judge, referred that motion to this magistrate judge for a decision. See Docket No. 27.

FACTS

At the outset, the court notes that, although Mr. Robinson appears pro se in this matter, he is a licensed attorney with experience in federal civil cases. Mr. Robinson was the attorney of record for his wife, Carol Robinson, in her employment discrimination claim against the United States Postal Service.

See Robinson v. Potter, Civ. No. 03--4128, 394 F. Supp. 2d 1116, 1127 (D.S.D. 2005), aff'd, 453 F.3d 990 (8th Cir. 2006).

Mr. Robinson also filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the United States Postal Service in his own right and represented himself in that lawsuit. See Robinson v. Potter, Civ. No. 08-4003. That case was dismissed with prejudice on February 13, 2009, on stipulation of both parties.

In addition, Mr. Robinson appears as the attorney of record in one other civil case in federal court, Civ. No. 04-1016, American Prairie Construction Co. v. Hoich, (D.S.D), aff'd in part, rev'd. in part, 560 F.3d 780 (8th Cir. 2009), in which Robinson represented the defendant, John Hoich. Therefore, the court finds that the usual legal rule requiring liberal construction of the pleadings of pro se plaintiffs does not apply to Mr. Robinson in this case. He can be expected to be as knowledgeable as government counsel in the conduct of civil litigation in federal court.

Mr. Robinson alleges in his complaint that the government hired him as a supervisory Transportation Security Administration ("TSA"), employee for the airport at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on November 2, 2002. Robinson asserts that he successfully completed training and on-the-job training, carried out by AIS/Boeing (hereinafter "Boeing"), under contract with TSA. Robinson further alleges that, following his training, the government refused to place him in the supervisory position for which he was hired, instead placing him in one of the lowest-ranking positions at the Sioux Falls airport.

Robinson also asserts that, during training, a TSA employee--trainee named Brent Kress was sexually harassed by a Boeing trainer. Mr. Robinson asserts that he advised Mr. Kress and explained his rights to him, but did not represent Mr. Kress as his attorney. Mr. Robinson asserts that Boeing employees made comments to him that they were "disturbed" by Robinson's involvement with the Kress claim. Mr. Robinson then claims to himself have been the subject of sexual harassment by a Boeing trainer. Eventually, Mr. Robinson asserts, TSA fired him. Although Mr. Robinson never sets forth his separate claims as such in his complaint, he appears to assert claims of age discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation.

The government answered Mr. Robinson's complaint, asserting defenses of failure to state a claim, failure to exhaust administrative remedies, failure to mitigate damages, and failure to timely assert claims. A motion for summary judgment is now pending in which the government argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on many of these grounds.

The instant motion to compel concerns discovery requests that the government served on Mr. Robinson on December 18, 2008. After receiving communication from the government on April 8, 2009, asking that he respond to the outstanding discovery, Mr. Robinson provided initial responses on April 13, 2009. On April 14, 2009, the very next day, the government again communicated with Mr. Robinson that it believed his discovery responses were inadequate and deficient. Mr. Robinson responded by providing additional information on April 20, 2009. After receiving Mr. Robinson's amended discovery answers, the government filed its motion to compel on the next day, April 21, 2009.

The government seeks the court's order compelling Mr. Robinson to provide additional answers to interrogatory numbers 1, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 18. Mr. Robinson opposes the motion to compel on the grounds that the government did not comply with the condition ...


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