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Liggins v. Clarke County School Board

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

November 17, 2014

KENNETH D. LIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CLARKE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, et a1., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GLEN E. CONRAD, District Judge.

This case is presently before the court on the plaintiff's motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the court concludes that it is clear from the record that the plaintiff is not entitled to relief under this rule. Accordingly, the court will deny the plaintiff's motion and his request for a hearing.

Procedural History

Kenneth D. Liggins, proceeding pro se, filed this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 on September 30, 2009. Liggins asserted that his rights to equal protection and free speech were violated when defendant Robina R. Bouffault, then-chairman of the Clarke County School Board ("school Board'), stopped him from speaking at a School Board meeting on April 14, 2008.

Following the completion of discovery, the defendants moved for summary judgment on the claims asserted against Bouffault. On September 17, 2010, the motion was granted in part and denied in part. To the extent Liggins' equal protection claim was premised on the assertion that he was subjected to race discrimination, the court held that Bouffault was entitled to summary judgment.[1] However, the court denied the defendants' motion to the extent that Liggins asserted a "class of one" equal protection claim against Bouffault. The court also denied the defendants' motion with respect to the First Amendment claim asserted against Bouffault. See Liggins v. Clarke County Sch. Bd., 5:09CV00077, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97741 (W.D. Va. Sept. 17, 2010).

By subsequent agreement of the parties, the case proceeded to trial solely on Liggins' First Amendment claim. On October 1, 2010, a jury returned a verdict in Bouffault's favor. Liggins moved to set aside the verdict and for a new trial. The court denied the motions on October 28, 2010, and entered final judgment in favor of Bouffault. Liggins then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which found no reversible error. Liggins v. Bouffault, 434 F.Appx. 237 (4th Cir. 2011).

Nearly four years after final judgment was entered in Bouffault's favor, Liggins filed the instant motion to set aside the judgment, pursuant to Rule 60(d)(1) and (3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Liggins claims that Bouffault and her attorney "perpetrat[ed] a fraud" on the court by withholding evidence during discovery, specifically the minutes from the School Board's April 21, 2008 meeting and an audio recording of that meeting. Docket No. 137 at 8.

Summary of the Relevant Facts

During the course of the litigation, Liggins actively participated in the discovery process. On February 12, 2010, Liggins issued a subpoena directly to Bouffault's attorney, Stacy Haney, seeking "a copy of [the] DVD from [the] April 14, 2008 public hearing, " and "a copy of [the] DVD from [the] April 21, 2008 public hearing." Docket No. 137-1 at 2. On March 1, 2010, Haney sent Ligginsa disk containing an audio recording of the April 14, 2008 meeting. She advised him that the School Board did not have a recording of the April 21, 2008 meeting.

Liggins subsequently moved to have the defendants held in contempt of court for "providing false and misleading information." Docket No.44. Liggins claimed that he was unable to play the disk in his DVD player, and that Haney had intentionally sent him a "blank disk." ld.

Liggins' motion was heard by former United States Magistrate Judge B.Waugh Crigler on April 6, 2010. During the hearing, Haney explained that the disk provided to Liggins contained an audio recording of the April 14, 2008 meeting, and that the disk had to be played on a computer rather than a DVD player. Docket No. 136 at 5. When asked if there was any video recording of the meeting, Haney advised Judge Crigler that there was "no video all of the proceedings." Id . Additionally, Haney confirmed that the defendants did not possess any audio or video recording of the April 21, 2008 meeting. Id. at 8.

On April 7, 2008, the defendants responded to Liggins' first requests for production of documents. Liggins again sought copies of the "DVD[S]" from the School Board meetings held on April 14, 2008 and April 21, 2008. Docket No.139-3 at 3. The defendants responded that there was no video recording of the April 14, 2008 meeting, that the audio recording of that meeting had already been produced to Liggins, and that there was no recording of the April 21, 2008 meeting. Liggins did not request copies of the minutes from either meeting.

The defendants responded to Liggins' second request for production of documents on May 12, 2010. Liggins once again requested a copy of the "DISK taken on April 21st 2008 Public meeting, " and was told that the defendants "d[id] not have any recording or disk' of the April 21, 2008 meeting." Docket No.139-4 at 3. Liggins did not request copies of the minutes from that meeting.

Liggins then served a third request for production of documents, to which the defendants responded on May 24, 2010. Liggins requested the sign-in sheet for the April 14, 2008 meeting, but did not request School Board minutes for any meetings. On July 19, 2010, the defendants responded to Liggins' fourth request for production of documents, in which he made no request for any documents ...


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