The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Nita L. Stormes U.S. Magistrate Judge United States District Court
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCLOSURE OF SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSES TO DISCOVERY REQUESTS [Doc. No. 25]
Plaintiff Cesar Uribe filed a motion to compel Defendants Tuzon and J. McKesson (Defendants) to disclose responses to certain interrogatories, requests for admission and requests for production of documents. He argues that interrogatories nos. 6, 8 and 9 in his First Set of Interrogatories (ROGs), requests no. 2, 3 and 4 in his Requests for Admission (RFAs) and requests no. 18, 19, 20 and 21 in his Requests for Production of Documents (RFPs) are proper and relevant to show that Defendants violated his right of access to the court. Defendants oppose all the requests.
Plaintiff declares he has made every reasonable effort to secure the discovery of the information and documents. Uribe Decl. ¶ 7. Having considered both parties' arguments, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to compel.
Plaintiff asserts these relevant facts in the Complaint. On February 22, 2007, while housed at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison (SATF), Plaintiff attempted to mail out his legal documents. Compl. ¶ 9. Following correction officers J. McKesson's, Martinez's and Zaragosa's instructions, Plaintiff arrived at the floor office after the evening meal with his legal documents. Compl. ¶ 9. Upon arriving, J. McKesson, Martinez and Zaragosa told Plaintiff he should have delivered the documents before the evening meal, cursed at Plaintiff and refused to send Plaintiff's legal documents. Compl. ¶ 12. Martinez, following J. McKesson's orders, slammed the door and smashed Plaintiff's foot. Compl. ¶ 14. Plaintiff left the floor office to try and speak with the Sergeant, but instead, was stopped by correctional officer, Tuzon, who ordered Plaintiff back to his cell. Compl. ¶ 15, 16. Soon after, Plaintiff was brought back to the floor office after again requesting that his legal documents be mailed out. Compl. ¶ 17. J. McKesson, Martinez and Zaragosa agreed to process Plaintiff's legal mail. Compl. ¶ 18. They then followed Plaintiff back to his cell, locked Plaintiff and his cell mate in a shower cage and ransacked Plaintiff's cell. Compl. ¶ 18. Plaintiff's personal belongings were either confiscated or destroyed. Compl. ¶ 21. J. McKesson and Martinez made separate statements to Plaintiff, implying that the actions taken against Plaintiff were in retaliation for Plaintiff's attempt to mail out his legal documents. Compl. ¶ 19.
Plaintiff sues for violations of his: (1) federal constitutional right to be free from retaliation when engaged in a protected action, and (2) state tort right for personal injury. Compl. ¶¶ 25-26. On June 18, 2009, Plaintiff propounded on Defendants J. McKesson, Tuzon, Martinez and Zaragosa ROGs, RFAs and RFPs, to which Defendants responded on August 29, 2009. Mot. to Compel 3:14-18. On September 10, 2009, Plaintiff sent Defendants' counsel a letter, attempting to resolve what he asserts to be non-compliance with his discovery requests. Mot. to Compel 3:21-22. On October 13, 2009, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel. Mot. to Compel (date stamped on November 2, 2009.). Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion to compel. Opp'n to Mot. to Compel.
"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). A party may serve on another party interrogatories that "ask for an opinion or contention that [is] related to fact or the application of law to fact . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(2). "The grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity." Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(4). "A party may [also] serve on any other party a written request to admit . . . facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(1). An "answering party may assert lack of knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or deny only if the party states that it has made reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily obtain is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny" the request. Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4).
Additionally, "[a] party may serve on any other party a request . . . to produce . . . [any designated documents] in the responding party's possession, custody, or control." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a)(1). The party responding to a request for production of documents has an obligation to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the factual basis of its responses to the request to produce documents. Fed. R. Civ. P. 34.
Lack of Personal Knowledge
ROG no. 6, directed to Tuzon, asks for all facts to support Tuzon's contention that Plaintiff did not exhaust his administrative remedies. Defendants object, stating Tuzon did not make such a contention. Instead, Defendants assert Tuzon was not personally involved in Plaintiff's administrative appeal process and has no knowledge of whether such procedures occurred. Plaintiff argues that because Defendants raised failure to exhaust administrative remedies as an affirmative defense, it is reasonable to require Defendants to contact the appeals coordinator to seek an answer. However, Defendants argue that Plaintiff should have all the relevant information regarding exhaustion of administrative remedies because Plaintiff alleged exhaustion in his complaint. Compl. ¶ 23.
As a responding party, Tuzon is only required to answer interrogatories based on his personal knowledge and information that is available to him. See Mehl v. Blanas, 241 F.R.D. 653, 661 (E.D. Cal. 2007). Plaintiff does not contend that Tuzon was personally involved in Plaintiff's administrative appeal or otherwise privy to such information. See Morris v. Hickinson, No. 06-2936 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 15, 2009). ...