Judge recommends granting Fresno police officers’ motion in excessive force allegations case

By Amanda Thomas | Apr 30, 2018

FRESNO – A federal magistrate judge has made a recommendation in favor of two Fresno police officers who a man said used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him.

© Gnagel | Megapixl.com

FRESNO – A federal magistrate judge has made a recommendation in favor of two Fresno police officers who a man said used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him.

In a March 26 filing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean recommended that city of Fresno police officers Mathew Silver and Brian Sturgeon’s motion for terminating sanctions be granted. 

“Because plaintiff has failed to provide initial disclosures for months, even after an extended deadline, the court recommends that defendants’ motion for terminating sanctions be granted,” Grosjean said in her recommendation. 

Grosjean’s recommendation came after Phillip Sanders' second amended complaint (SAC) against the officers. During an informal telephone conference, the court explained Sanders' obligation to provide initial disclosures for his excessive force and unlawful arrest claims.

“You need to say the people who have information about your claims,” the court said during an informal conference. 

While Sanders agreed to provide the disclosures in two weeks, he missed the deadline. In her recommendation, Grosjean cited several factors that “strongly favor dismissal” of the action. Those factors include Sanders' failure to comply with the rules or show any willingness to do so in the future.  

Grosjean noted that Sanders has prosecuted several cases in the district and at least one required him to file initial disclosures. 

“Plaintiff knows what is required of him, but has failed to do so, in violation of the rules of civil procedure and this court’s order,” she said in her recommendation. 

Grosjean also noted that he ignored rules and court orders then lied about it. For example, Sanders was dishonest when he told the court he had already provided initial disclosures and when he called the defense counsel’s office and represented himself as Doug Jones, a false name.

“The court takes the sanction of dismissal very seriously and would not recommend it lightly,” she said in her recommendation. “However, the court believes that it is appropriate here.”

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City of Fresno U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

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