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Williams v. Adams

May 1, 2009

MARCUS R. WILLIAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DERRAL G. ADAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL (Docs. 66, 69, and 70) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF LEAVE TO PROPOUND TWENTY ADDITIONAL INTERROGATORIES (Doc. 68)

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR ISSUANCE OF SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM (Doc. 72) ORDER GRANTING MOTION, AND EXTENDING DISCOVERY DEADLINE ONE-HUNDRED FIVE DAYS

(Doc. 67)

Order on Plaintiff's Pending Discovery Motions

Plaintiff Marcus R. Williams is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's second amended complaint, filed October 13, 2006, against Defendants Adams, Hansen, Wan, and Beeler for violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff's claim against Defendants arises out of the alleged denial of adequate outdoor exercise and confinement to a cell for twenty-three and one half to twenty-four hours a day from January 2004 to June 2005 at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California.

Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's three motions to compel, motion for an extension of time to serve discovery requests, motion for leave to propound additional interrogatories, and motion for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum.

I. Motion to Compel Responses to Interrogatories, Set One

On October 9, 2008, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel responses to his interrogatories, set one. (Doc. 66.) Defendants filed an opposition to the motion on October 27, 2008, and Plaintiff filed a reply on November 10, 2008. (Docs. 71, 74.)

"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). The responding party is obligated to respond to the interrogatories to the fullest extent possible, Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3), and any objections must be stated with specificity, Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(4). The responding party shall use common sense and reason. E.g., Collins v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 06-2466-CM-DJW, 2008 WL 1924935, *8 (D. Kan. Apr. 30, 2008). A responding party is not generally required to conduct extensive research in order to answer an interrogatory, but a reasonable effort to respond must be made. L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, No. S-06-2042 LKK GGH, 2007 WL 2781132, *2 (E.D. Cal. Sep. 21, 2007). Further, the responding party has a duty to supplement any responses if the information sought is later obtained or the response provided needs correction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(A).

If Defendants object to one of Plaintiff's discovery requests, it is Plaintiff's burden on his motion to compel to demonstrate why the objection is not justified. Ordinarily, Plaintiff must inform the Court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, inform the Court why the information sought is relevant and why Defendants' objections are not justified.

In this instance, however, while there are deficiencies with respect to Plaintiff's motion to compel, the Court also has concerns with Defendants' objections. Given these deficiencies and concerns, the extent of discovery conducting by the parties, and in the interest of conservation of the Court's and the parties' resources, the Court opts to reach the merits of Plaintiff's motion to compel, to the extent it is able to do so, rather than deny the motion without prejudice to refiling. Although Plaintiff failed to submit the discovery requests and Defendants' responses with his motion, those documents were submitted by Plaintiff with his motion for an extension of time, filed July 22, 2008, and maintained in paper. By separate order, the Clerk's Office will be directed to scan the documents.

A. Defendant Adams - Interrogatories 3-20

Plaintiff's motion to compel could be clearer as to which interrogatories are the subject of the motion. However, it appears that the interrogatories subject to dispute are listed on page two of Plaintiff's motion to compel (court record page five), and it is those interrogatories the Court addresses. Plaintiff seeks to compel responses to interrogatories 3 through 20, served on Defendant Adams. (Doc. 66, Motion to Compel, court record p. 5:4.)

ROG 3: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. At issue in this action is whether Defendants violated Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment by failing to provide him adequate outdoor exercise. Plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating the relevance of Defendant Adam's qualifications, education, special skills, experience, etc. to Plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff has not done so, and the relevance is not readily apparent to the Court.

ROG 4: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. Knowledge of state law regulations is not obviously relevant to Plaintiff's federal denial of exercise claim, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary. Further, this interrogatory inappropriately asks Defendant Adams to engage in speculation on the importance of exercise, fresh air, and sunlight to prisoners' health and well being.*fn1

ROG 5: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. The interrogatory is overly broad, vague, and ambiguous, and is not comprehensible as written. To the extent Plaintiff is seeking identification of other rules, regulations, statutes, etc. governing minimum exercise requirements, Plaintiff has made no showing that this information is relevant to his constitutional claim.

ROG 6: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. The relevance of the availability of rehabilitative programs such as job training, education, drug and alcohol counseling, etc. to Plaintiff's denial of exercise claim is not readily apparent to the Court, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary.

ROG 7: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. The differences between 180 and 270 degree prison designs do not appear to be relevant to Plaintiff's claim, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary.

ROG 8: Plaintiff's motion to compel a further response is denied. Plaintiff sought the number of main exercise yards on Facility C at CSATF. Although Defendant Adams objected, he provided what appears to be a complete response: two. Plaintiff has proffered no explanation why this response is deficient.

ROG 9: Plaintiff's motion to compel a further response is denied. Plaintiff sought the number of mini exercise yards on Facility C at CSATF. Although Defendant Adams objected, he provided what appears to be a complete response: four. Plaintiff has proffered no explanation why the response is deficient.

ROG 10: Plaintiff's motion to compel a further response is denied. Plaintiff sought the number of "state of emergency" lockdowns on Facility C at CSATF between January 2004 and February 2005. Although Defendant Adams objected, he provided what appears to be a complete response: none. Plaintiff has proffered no explanation why the response is deficient.

ROG 11: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. Plaintiff sought an explanation of the proper procedures for imposing an emergency lockdown. Plaintiff has provided no explanation as to the relevance of this interrogatory given the previous response stated that the facility was not on emergency lockdown.

ROG 12: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. Plaintiff sought an explanation of what serious incidents would warrant an emergency lockdown. Plaintiff has provided no explanation as to the relevance of this interrogatory.

ROG 13: Plaintiff's motion to compel a further response is denied. Plaintiff asked if Defendant recalled any appeals or letters of complaint submitted to Defendant's office by Plaintiff. Defendant provided a response: he does not recall any appeals or letters filed by Plaintiff.

ROG 14: Plaintiff's motion to compel is denied. Plaintiff asked, "With respect to the daily operations of 'C' Facility at CSATF from January 2004 to April 2005 who was responsible for ensuring that the prison programs, services and activities complied with departmental, State and, or Federal Guidelines and Standards to see that minimum requirements of out of the cell exercise were being meet. If any identify and state the name(s), title(s), duties, responsibilities, qualifications, etc., of said individual(s)." This interrogatory is incomprehensible as written, and is compound. Some of the information sought also appears to be irrelevant.

To the extent that Plaintiff is seeking to know who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the minimum out-of-cell exercise requirements set forth in section 3343(h) of Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations, he should simply ask that. Phrasing questions so broadly that they become confusing, convoluted, and compound is does not serve Plaintiff well in the end. Simple and direct questions should be asked.

ROG 15: Plaintiff's motion to compel is granted in part. Plaintiff asked, "With respect to the 'C' Facility rotating yard schedule in effect at relevant times to the time frame in question (ie Jan. 04-Apr. 05) who was responsible for writing and implementing that rotating yard schedule. If any, identify and state the title, names, duties, responsibilities, qualifications, etc., of the party(s) so involved."

This interrogatory is compound, and some of the information sought also appears to be irrelevant. However, Defendant's objections are not well-taken overall. Plaintiff claims he was denied adequate outdoor exercise. Who was responsible for yard schedule during this time is clearly relevant. Defendant's unsupported assertion of confidentiality and privacy concerns is unpersuasive. Defendant is ordered to identify by name and title the individual(s) who drafted and/or implemented the exercise yard schedule on Facility C at CSATF during the time period relevant to Plaintiff's claim.

ROG 16: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. This interrogatory inappropriately seeks from Defendant an expert opinion on the temporary or permanent effects of isolation on prisoners.

ROG 17: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. Plaintiff seeks to know if modifications or restrictions to programs, services, and/or activities which result in the failure to meet the minimum requirements are used as direct punishment. Even as rephrased by the Court, this interrogatory is confusing and incomprehensible. Further, it is overly broad, and the relevance is not apparent to the Court.

ROG 18: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. This interrogatory seeks to know whether the rotating yard schedule was being used as a form of punishment. The relevance of this interrogatory is not apparent to the Court, and Plaintiff has not shown its relevance.

ROG 19: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. This interrogatory, which seeks the number of complaints on record from January 2004 to April 2005 concerning Facility C programs, services, and activities, is overly broad in that it is not limited to complaints about lack of outdoor exercise. Further, given the nature of the claim at issue in this action, the relevance of other inmate' complaints and grievances is not apparent to the Court, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary.

ROG 20: Plaintiff's motion to compel a further response is denied. This interrogatory, which seeks the number of complaints and grievances in Defendant's personnel file that gave rise to legal action, is overly broad in that it is not limited to complaints and grievances about lack of outdoor exercise, and there is no time period limitation. Further, given the nature of the claim at issue in this action, the relevance of other inmate' complaints and grievances is not apparent to the Court, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary.

B. Defendant Hansen - Interrogatories 3-15

Plaintiff seeks to compel responses to interrogatories 3 through 15, served on Defendant Hansen. (Doc. 66, 5:8.)

ROG 3: Plaintiff's motion to compel a response is denied. The Court cannot discern the relevance of Defendant Hansen's qualifications, education, special skills, etc. to Plaintiff's claim, and Plaintiff has not shown the relevance.

ROG 4: Plaintiff's motion to compel is denied. The relevance of what type of additional training and education might benefit Defendant in his job duties is not clear.

ROG 5: Plaintiff's motion to compel is denied. Knowledge of state law regulations and other provisions is not obviously relevant to this claim, and Plaintiff has made no showing to the contrary. Further, this interrogatory inappropriately and without any parameters asks Defendant Hansen for his "understanding" of section 3343(h) of Title 15.

ROG 6: Plaintiff's motion to compel is granted. This interrogatory is not limited to the time period at issue in this action, as it should have been, and is somewhat overly broad as drafted. However, the interrogatory is clearly aimed at finding out Defendant's job duties, and Defendant could have crafted an answer. Defendant's objection that responding calls for an expert opinion is wholly without merit. Defendant is ordered to respond to the following question: describe ...


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