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​ABC agents file motion for compliance from Martese Johnson in lawsuit

Defense claims Johnson did not submit all requested information

<p>According to the motion, the defendants responded in full to requests for information and documents from the plaintiff while&nbsp;Johnson and his attorneys, on the contrary failed to supply certain pieces of information.</p>

According to the motion, the defendants responded in full to requests for information and documents from the plaintiff while Johnson and his attorneys, on the contrary failed to supply certain pieces of information.

University alumnus Martese Johnson’s lawsuit against the former Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control director of enforcement and two ABC agents underwent a new development Feb. 14 when the defense filed a motion for compliance from the plaintiff to provide adequate information for the trial.

The lawsuit was filed following the brutal arrest of Johnson, then a third-year College student, by ABC agents on March 18, 2015, outside of Trinity Irish Pub on the Corner. Johnson filed the $3 million civil lawsuit in 2015 against the ABC, then-ABC Director of Enforcement Shawn Walker and ABC law enforcement agents Jared Miller, Thomas Custer and John Cielakie on allegations of negligence, assault and battery.

In December 2016, the court ruled to remove the ABC and Cielakie from the case. The remaining defendants are Miller, Custer and Walker with counts of excessive force, gross negligence, assault and battery filed against Miller and Custer and a count of supervisor liability against Walker.

Both sides of the case also issued discovery requests in December — an action calling for each side to submit information and respond to questions from the opposite party prior to the trial.

Lawyers for Miller and Custer submitted a motion Feb. 14 to compel answers to interrogatories and responses to requests for production of documents from Johnson and his attorneys Johnson’s team allegedly failed to fully comply with the discovery requests.

According to a brief supporting the motion, the defendants responded in full to requests for information and documents from the plaintiff. However, the brief alleges Johnson and his attorneys failed to supply certain pieces of information.

The defense produced over 2,100 pages of paper documents, multiple flash-drives and discs Jan. 20 containing records from subpoenas and over 80 pages of written objections and responses, the brief reads.

The same day, the defendants claim Johnson provided responses to only a limited number of the defendants’ discovery requests and objected to all interrogatories and requests for proposals. The plaintiff produced zero documents and did not respond adequately to interrogatories, the brief states.

According to the motion, the defendants requested “full and complete” responses to their discovery requests Feb. 3. Johnson and his attorneys responded four days later with 112 pages of documents. The defense claims these documents failed to answer or satisfy their request.

The defense listed a series of instances where they say Johnson and his attorneys refused to fully comply with requests for information. The claims included an alleged failure to respond to interrogatories regarding Johnson’s history of criminal charges or convictions and alcohol consumption or drug use in the days surrounding the incident. Johnson and his attorneys, according to the defense’s brief in support of the motion, said such requests were not relevant to the case.

“[The interrogatory] seeks information that is not relevant to any party’s claims or defenses, and is not proportional to the needs of the case,” the plaintiff said in documents included as an exhibit in the defense’s brief.

The motion also includes “requests for production,” which call for the provision of any documents or files that may be related to the case.

For certain requests, such as all documents received by Johnson or his attorney related to subpoena requests during the litigation, Johnson responded he would “produce documents responsive to this Request to the extent such documents exist,” according to an exhibit included in the brief.

Other requests the ABC agents and their attorneys sent to Johnson included copies of all postings on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, he made from March 18, 2015, to the present day and all text messages he sent or received from March 23, 2015, to the present date concerning or related to the events alleged in the case.

Additional requests for production included Johnson’s academic file from the University, all documents showing any correspondence between Johnson and people employed by or affiliated with Trinity, documents related but not limited to credit card statements and receipts showing his purchase activity from March 16, 2015, to March 19, 2015 and copies of every identification cards he has held in any and all states.

According to the brief, Johnson objected to these requests on the grounds that they seek information protected by the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work-product doctrine.

“Mr. Johnson further objects that this request is overbroad, lacks specificity, and is not proportional to the needs of this case,” court documents said.

According to the brief, on Feb. 10 the defense held a conference call with the plaintiff seeking full compliance to all discovery requests by Feb. 13. The brief said Johnson and his attorneys said they would submit relevant information, but not by a specified date.

A trial on the matter is scheduled to begin July 25 in Charlottesville. Attorneys for both sides did not respond to request for comment.


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