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Parks v. Tait

December 4, 2009

CHARLES AUSTIN PARKS, CDCR #K-72151, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. TAIT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jan M. Adler U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO DOCUMENT REQUESTS AND DENYING REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS [Doc. 31]

This matter comes before the Court on a Motion to Compel Responses to Demands for Production and Request for Sanctions filed by Plaintiff Charles Austin Parks [Doc. 31]. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. CASE BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a pro se, is an inmate currently incarcerated at California State Prison, Sacramento. The named defendants include Correctional Officer R. Tait, Correctional Officer R. Huff, Correctional Officer A. Rendon, Licensed Vocational Nurse T. Davis, Licensed Vocational Nurse M. Flores, Licensed Vocational Nurse A. Berry, and Licensed Vocational Nurse S. Moreno. All defendants were employed at California State Prison, Corcoran ("Corcoran") at the time the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims allegedly occurred. Plaintiff asserts the following claims in his First Amended Complaint ("FAC"):

(1) Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Defendant Tait: Plaintiff alleges that on November 8, 2007, Defendants Tait and Rendon came to his cell to escort him to the law library. Tait allegedly placed Plaintiff's handcuffs on too tight and, when Plaintiff complained, made them even tighter. When Plaintiff complained again, Tait allegedly pulled Plaintiff to the side and threatened to make the handcuffs even tighter. Plaintiff states that Tait then yanked the chain in between the handcuffs, causing excruciating pain. Plaintiff subsequently brought the matter to the attention of a sergeant. FAC at 4-6, ¶¶ 14-23.

(2) Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against Defendant Rendon: Plaintiff alleges that Rendon failed to protect him during the above incident, and instead laughed and told Plaintiff to "shut the fuck up." Id. at 7, ¶¶ 24-25.

(3) Retaliation in violation of the First and Eighth Amendments against Defendants Tait and Huff: Plaintiff alleges that on November 8, 2007, Tait and Huff conducted a search of his cell as a punitive measure to retaliate against him for speaking out about the above incidents. Id. at 7-9, ¶¶ 26-30.

(4) Deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendants Tait and Rendon: Plaintiff alleges that the tight handcuffs caused bruises to his wrist bone. Id. at 9, ¶ 31.

(5) Deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendants Davis and Flores: Plaintiff alleges that Davis and Flores covered up Tait's deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Plaintiff further asserts that Davis falsified a state document by stating that she did not view any injuries to Plaintiff's wrist. Id. at 9-10, ¶¶ 32-33.

(6) Deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendants Huff and Tait: Plaintiff alleges that on November 8, 2007, Huff and Tait interfered with his medical treatment by confiscating his medical supplies, including his asthma inhaler, when they conducted a search of his cell. Plaintiff further alleges that Tait denied him the opportunity to soak his infected toe. Id. at 10-12, ¶¶ 34-40.

(7) Deliberate indifference to medical needs against Defendants Berry and Moreno:*fn1 On October 12, 2007, Dr. Wilson, a non-party, ordered Plaintiff to soak his foot, due to an infected toe following minor surgery, in warm water and Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes per day. On October 13, 2007, Berry allegedly refused to allow Plaintiff to soak his toe and did not provide him with a clean bandage. Plaintiff asserts that Berry suggested that he soak his toe in an unsanitary toilet. On October 14, 2007, Moreno refused to allow Plaintiff to soak his toe and instead offered him a small white cup to soak his toe in as a joke. Id. at 12-14, ¶¶ 41-46.

Plaintiff served three sets of document requests on August 3, 5, and 12, 2009 containing a total of sixty-five (65) requests.*fn2 Defendants served responses on September 2, 3, and 11, 2009, respectively. The parties met and conferred by telephone during the Case Management Conference held on September 10, 2009. Plaintiff then sent meet and confer correspondence to Defendants' counsel on or around September 13, 2009, to which counsel for Defendants responded on or around October 6, 2009. Plaintiff now moves to compel further responses to his document requests on the basis that Defendants' responses were "evasive, vague, incomplete . . . as well as repetitive." Pl.'s Affidavit in Supp. of Mot. at 4, ¶ 4. Defendants have filed an opposition, to which Plaintiff has filed a reply.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

Under the Federal Rules, "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) (emphasis added). The intention of Rule 26(b)(1) is to focus the parties and the court on the actual claims and defenses involved in the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 Advisory Committee Notes, 2000 Amendment. "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). A district court has the authority to define the actual scope of discovery to the reasonable needs of the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 Advisory Committee Notes, 2000 Amendment.

"The Supreme Court has instructed the federal courts to liberally construe the inartful pleading of pro se litigants." Eldridge v. Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and internal quotations omitted). The rule of liberal construction is "particularly important in civil rights cases." Ferdik v. Bonzelet, 963 F.2d 1258, 1261 (9th Cir. 1992). This principle also applies to discovery propounded by pro se litigants. See Draper v. Coombs, 792 F.2d 915, 924 (9th Cir. 1986) ...


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