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Martin v. Woodford

April 1, 2010

CLAUDELL EARL MARTIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WOODFORD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO COMPEL

(Doc. 61)

Order

I. Background

Plaintiff Claudell Earl Martin ("Plaintiff") 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 complaint, filed March 21, 2008, against Defendants McGuinness, Patel Ismail, R. Fisher, R. Thomas, E. Henry, and J. Flory.*fn1 Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel further response to Plaintiff's discovery requests, filed November 23, 2009. (Doc. 61.) On January 14, 2010 Defendants filed their opposition. (Doc. 67.) On January 15, 2010, Defendants filed an amended document to their opposition. (Doc. 68.) Plaintiff did not file a reply. The matter is deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

II. Analysis

A. Admissions

Plaintiff moves to compel further response to the request for admissions addressed to Defendant Thomas. (Doc. 61, Pl.'s Mot. To Compel ¶¶ 3-5.) Defendants contend that Plaintiff's admission requests are all in the form of questions, which makes them interrogatories. Defendants contend that Defendant Thomas did not have to respond. However, Defendant Thomas did attempt to respond where Plaintiff's request contained a material fact, by converting the question into an admission and responding as fully as possible. Defendant responded to Requests Nos. 1 through 4. (Doc. 62, pp. 32-38.)

Defendants are correct that Plaintiff's requests for admission are in the form of a question. The purpose of a request for admission is to eliminate issues that are not in dispute between the parties. Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pacific Transport Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 245 (9th Cir. 1981). Thus, requests for admissions are not principally discovery devices and should not be used as a substitute for other discovery processes to uncover evidence. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 445 (C.D. Cal. 1998). Defendants responded to Requests for Admissions Nos. 1 through 4. Accordingly, the Court finds Defendants' responses to be sufficient and will not compel a further response.

Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to re-submit requests for admission Nos. 5 through 9 as to Defendant Thomas and extend the discovery deadline for this purpose. Plaintiff must style the request in the form of an admission, and not an interrogatory. The admission request should be short and concise, for the purpose of eliminating issues that are not in dispute between the parties. Plaintiff is granted thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order in which to re-submit his requests for admission Nos. 5 through 9, Set one, to Defendant Thomas. Defendant Thomas will then have twenty (20) days from the date of service of the admission requests in which to serve his response. A motion to compel, if any, is due within (20) days after the responses are served.

B. Interrogatories

Plaintiff moves to compel further responses from Defendant Patel to Interrogatories Nos. 5 through 7, Set One.

Interrogatory 5: What is the policy with in CDC; the state and federal law; where it concern inmates right to immediate medial treatment"?

Response: Defendants object to this interrogatory on the grounds that it is compound, calls for a legal opinion, and is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Without waiving their objections, Defendant responds as follows: see Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15 §§ 3350-3369.5.

Defendant responded to Plaintiff's interrogatory by referring him to the relevant sections of the California Code of Regulations. The Court finds this to be a sufficient response to Plaintiff's interrogatory and will not require Defendant Patel to provide a further response. Interrogatory 6: Explain in detail how you made every effort to see Plaintiff receive his medications and routine check ups from 2005-2006?

Response: Defendant objects to this interrogatory on the grounds that it lacks foundation. Without waiving their objections, Defendant responds as follows: I do not recall Plaintiff and his medical records are not available to me because he is no longer housed at North Kern State Prison. Plaintiff's medical records are available for review through institutional procedures at California State Prison - Corcoran.

Defendant responded to Plaintiff's interrogatory by stating that Defendant has no personal recollection of Plaintiff. Defendant also referred Plaintiff to review his medical records through institutional procedures at CSP-Corcoran. The Court finds this to be a sufficient response and will not require Defendant Patel to provide a further response.

However, Defendant Patel will be limited by this response in offering evidence to support any contention that he provided adequate medical care to Plaintiff or to counter any evidence or contention by Plaintiff that Patel's care was inadequate.

Interrogatory 7: Describe how you believe this situation could have happin where you did not "evaluate" a heart patient in over a years time?

Response: Defendant objects to this interrogatory on the grounds that it lacks foundation and is incomprehensible.

Defendant contends that this interrogatory is incomprehensible and Plaintiff makes no attempt to explain what information he is seeking. Plaintiff generally contends that his discovery requests are relevant. However, Plaintiff does not explain what he means by this interrogatory. Because Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, the Court will grant Plaintiff leave to re-serve Interrogatory No. 7, Set One, on Defendant Patel. Plaintiff is granted thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order in which to re-submit Interrogatory No. 7, Set One, on Defendant Patel. Defendant Patel will then have twenty (20) days from the date of service of the interrogatory in which to serve a response. A motion to compel, if any, is due within twenty (20) days after the response is served.

C. Production Of Documents

In responding to discovery requests, Defendants must produce documents which are in their "possession, custody or control." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a). Actual possession, custody or control is not required, however. "A party may be ordered to produce a document in the possession of a non-party entity if that party has a legal right to obtain the document or has control over the entity who is in possession of the document. Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 620 (N.D. Cal. 1995). As this Court explained in Allen v. Woodford, 2007, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11026, *4-6, 2007 WL 309945, *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted):

Property is deemed within a party's possession, custody, or control if the party has actual possession, custody, or control thereof or the legal right to obtain the property on demand. A party having actual possession of documents must allow discovery even if the documents belong to someone else; legal ownership of the documents is not determinative. Control need not be actual control; courts construe it broadly as the legal right to obtain documents upon demand. Legal right is evaluated in the context of the facts of each case. The determination of control is often fact specific. Central to each case is the relationship between the party and the person or entity having actual possession of the document. The requisite relationship is one where a party can order the person or entity in actual possession of the documents to release them. This position of control is usually the result of statute, affiliation or employment. Control may be established by the existence of a principal-agent relationship.

Plaintiff seeks to compel further response to his requests for Production of Documents (POD) Nos. 1 through 12. Plaintiff again generally contends that his requests are relevant.

1. POD No. 1

Request: The full name of each of the eight (8) defendants still apart of this complaint; and their present whereabouts - whether that be work place of home address: K. ...


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