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Martinez v. City of Fresno

January 20, 2009

LUPE E. MARTINEZ, IN BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL SIMILARLY SITUATED, AND RALPH C. RENDON, IN BEHALF OF HIMSELF AND ALL SIMILARLY SITUATED. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF FRESNO; JERRY DYER, CHIEF OF THE FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT; SGT. MICHAEL MANFREDI; OFFICER MARCUS K. TAFOYA; OFFICER BELINDA ANAYA, AND DOES 1-20, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER RE MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES BY DEFENDANT MICHAEL MANFREDI TO PLAINTIFFS' SPECIAL INTERROGATORIES, SET No. ONE (Document 135)

INTRODUCTION

On December 9, 2008, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to compel responses by Defendant Michael Manfredi to Plaintiffs' Special Interrogatories, Set No. One. The parties filed a Joint Statement of Discovery Disagreements Re: Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel on January 13, 2009. Finding the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument, the Court vacated the January 16, 2009 hearing. As discussed more fully below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Lupe E. Martinez and Ralph C. Rendon, initially proceeding pro se, filed the present civil rights action on March 1, 2006. In September 2006, Plaintiffs retained counsel. Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint on January 30, 2007. Plaintiffs alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (unreasonable search and seizure and unreasonable use of force via the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments), false imprisonment, California Civil Code § 52, California Civil Code § 52.1 and malicious prosecution against the City of Fresno, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, Sgt. Michael Manfredi, Officer Marcus Tafoya and Officer Belinda Anaya.

The action arises out of an incident on March 5, 2005. According to the complaint, Plaintiffs were at a welcome home party for their relative, Plaintiff George Rendon, who had returned from the war in Iraq. At the party, two men exchanged words and family members separated them. During the restraining of the two men, twelve to fifteen police officers from the Fresno Police Department arrived. The police officers began hitting people with batons and using unreasonable force. Defendants Tafoya, Anaya and Manfredi, along with other police officers, entered the home, hitting people with batons and throwing people to the floor. Several people were hospitalized as a result of the injuries. In addition, Plaintiffs and several other people were arrested. Defendants allegedly used excessive force in seizing and arresting Plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs claimed that Defendants Manfredi, Tafoya and Anaya wrote police reports regarding the incident that contained false and misleading information. Plaintiffs further alleged that both Defendant Manfredi and Tafoya had previous histories of extensive force and illegal police conduct, which was well documented and known by the Fresno Police Department. Plaintiffs also alleged that Defendant Dyer and Defendant City were well aware of Defendant Manfredi and Defendant Tafoya's history of excessive force and illegal police conduct, tolerated said conduct, retained these officers, covered up the illegal activity and encouraged the conduct.

In November 2007, the matter was consolidated with Claudia Rendon et al. v. City of Fresno, 1:06-cv-1851 OWW GSA, which arises out of the same incident of March 5, 2005.

On October 3, 2008, Plaintiffs Ralph C. Rendon, Claudia Rendon, Lawrence Rendon, Ricardo Rendon, John Nunez, Jr., Alfred Hernandez and Vivian Centeno served Special Interrogatories to Defendant Michael Manfredi, Set No. One. Exhibit B to Joint Statement. Defendant Manfredi responded to the Special Interrogatories, Set One, on November 21, 2008. Exhibit D to Joint Statement.

On October 3, 2008, Plaintiffs served their Demand for Production of Documents, Set No. One, on Defendant Manfredi. Exhibit C to Joint Statement. On November 21, 2008, Defendant Manfredi responded to the Demand for Production of Documents, Set No. One. Exhibit E to Joint Statement.

On December 9, 2008, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to compel responses by Defendant Manfredi to Plaintiffs' Special Interrogatories, Set No. One. (Doc. 125). Plaintiffs also seek Rule 11 sanctions. The parties filed a Joint Statement of Discovery Disagreements Re: Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel on January 13, 2009. (Doc. 138).

DISCUSSION

I. Discovery Requests

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides as follows:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery

(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. The motion must include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action. . . .

(5) Payment of Expenses; Protective Orders.

(A) If the Motion Is Granted (or Disclosure or Discovery Is Provided After Filing). If the motion is granted--or if the disclosure or requested discovery is provided after the motion was filed-the court must, after giving an opportunity to be heard, require the party or deponent whose conduct necessitated the motion, the party or attorney advising that conduct, or both to pay the movant's reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees. But the court must not order this payment if:

(i) the movant filed the motion before attempting in good faith to obtain the disclosure or ...


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